My SAS colleague Margo Stutesman forwarded me a blog post from Sasha Dichter, director of business development at Acumen Fund. (I'm assuming she sent it because she likes the way he quantifies what he's looking for in a social media marketer, as opposed to trying to get me to move on.) I've spent a lot of time either writing or reading job descriptions and help wanted ads. Writing a good one is not easy. I like the way Sasha lays out what he's looking for:
I’m looking for a great marketer — a storyteller, a tribe-builder, someone who knows how to connect with people in a real and genuine way and help them to be part of something big…and who at the same time is ready to roll up their sleeves with data and numbers and analytics and web 2.0 tools.
Great stuff, and it immediately gives you a sense of what the job will be like and what it would be like to work with Sasha.
Social media gives us so many opportunities to rewrite the rules of corporate communications - not the fundamentals, but the stodgy old stuff that isn't working anymore, like some of the language we use. I've read dozens, possibly hundreds, of job descriptions that told me the company was looking for a proactive, customer-focused self-starter, but not what the person would actually, you know, do. (My favorite line in a job description was obviously a placeholder that never got edited before publication: "Works closely with Harriett.")
Knowing you're being stodgy isn't always enough. I'm working on our Social Media Guidelines & Recommendations to give to SAS employees who want to know how (and indeed if) they can participate in social media. (The short answer is yes, with more to come.) I'm a pretty informal person and often find myself struggling to maintain a professional demeanor in meetings when what I really want to do is sneak jokes into the minutes to see if anyone reads them. Even so, it's hard to break the habit. I just looked at a sentence I wrote in the draft guidelines for podcasting:
Our intention as we develop podcasting practices at SAS is to identify podcast-worthy topics that support overall SAS messaging and create a unified podcasting strategy that supports multiple marketing efforts and maximizes the content and production resources.
Not the most inspiring of manifestos. But it's so easy to slip back into stuffy mode. That's one reason I appreciate Intel's social media guidelines, and why they've gotten a lot of attention. They sound like they were written by real people, for real people. (And in my own defense, the sentence I picked out above is one of my stuffiest.)
The larger, more important message of all this is one I hope our bloggers at SAS will continue to recognize and feel comfortable with: not every post has to be a white paper. That email you just dashed off to ten colleagues about an important development in your field could be a blog post with a few minor tweaks, and maybe just a spell check.
Social media may be encouraging some to become too personal and informal (I'm still a fan of good grammar and spelling), but if it convinces the corporate world it's okay to talk like people instead of committees, that will be a wondrous thing.