(At least about this one thing.)
I wrote this post on a plane to Germany, where I was headed to present at our annual Global Web Summit, where all (or most) of the folks at SAS setting our web direction met to talk about SEO and web analytics and other cool stuff I should know more about. They also said they wanted to talk about our social media strategy, and that's where I came in.
I set my new netbook up to use Google Reader offline with Google Gears, in an attempt to whittle away at that “1000+” unread posts notice that shows up whenever I open it. That's why I was late getting to the post where Chris Brogan, reigning social media marketing rock star, called me a doofus.
Well, not me specifically, nor did he use the word “doofus,” but he asks why anybody would want the title Social Media Manager.
"What are people doing taking titles like 'Social Media Manager?' To me, this is a scary thing. Why? Because it’s like being the fax manager or the email manager. You’re naming yourself after a tool."
He thinks people in jobs like mine should use the titles that already exist in the PR and marketing departments.
It made me think, hard actually, and not just because I've become a slavering Brogan fanboy after meeting him in San Francisco.
I debated that title for a long time. I've only had the job for about seven months, and when I started, the backlash against self-proclaimed social media experts was well under way. I think of what I do, what I've been doing for the last 20 years or so, as marketing communications. In other companies I've had titles like Marketing Communications Manager and Product Marketing Manager and Director of Web Sales and Marketing.
I firmly believe that social media are an element of marketing communications. They provide new tools to include in your mix, to support your established marketing goals and objectives. That's the way I've been talking about social media to folks at SAS. I suppose I could have chosen Marketing Communications Manager.
But putting “Social Media Manager” on my (now hideously quaint) business cards sends a message that SAS is making social media a priority. “We have a social media manager. We are dedicating time and resources to this, because we think it's important.”
But it's not just a perception thing. My job is as inward-facing as it is outward. I'm not creating social media marketing campaigns for individual groups and products; I'm working with the marketers and the sales folks and the communicators to help them understand which social media tools might help them meet their established objectives.
I'm also trying to collect and disseminate best practices so that we can learn from one another. And I'm trying to perform a coordination function, so that we all know what one another is doing, and we don't duplicate efforts, or worse, contradict ourselves.
So, I'm managing how we use social media. Make sense?
Right now my title might sound odd to people on the cutting edge, but it sounds pretty forward-looking to the people I most need to influence. By the time it starts sounding odd to them, I'll probably be out of business cards anyway. Plus, I've been saying since before I got the job that if I do it right, I will eventually make my current position irrelevant.
What do you think? Is Social Media Manager a red flag, or a green light?