14 September 2009

ISO Chief Commuity Officer

I've been pondering the idea of where social media does/should live in the organization lately.

Pizza Hut, as we all know, had decided that an intern would fit the bill for them just fine - and (according to Idealware) they're not the only ones (although Social Media Answers does NOT recommend the practice).

A lot of associations seem to be operating in the middle management space (as a matter of fact, Maddie Grant has an article coming out soon for Associations Now in which she'll be interviewing a few of these folks).

And Maggie McGary references Jim Durbin in wondering if social media manager = career suicide. I quote: "A social media doer is not a position with career advancement." (She's also expressed misgivings about this before.)

I think we're focusing on the wrong level. I think associations in particular given our role in creating and supporting community in our professions/industries need to elevate our thinking on this topic. I think sssociations need a C-suite executive - a Chief Community Officer - to take charge of all community building initiatives. This is too important and too central to what we're supposed to be all about to leave it to some $10/hour intern or to a middle manager who doesn't have much actual power or authority.

So what would a Chief Community Officer look like and do?
  • A CCO would need to know both old and new media and how they relate to, compete with, and support each other. Engagement requires both.
  • A CCO would need to be a visionary, strategic thinker, because, as Groundswell documents, the best uses of new media are those that see the potential inherent in the technologies and platforms to support whole new kinds of participation.
  • A CCO would need to be able to identify clear goals that may not have a direct financial measure, be able to discern what data is relevant to track, and understand how to measure and report it to assess the success of the interaction of old and new media efforts.
  • A CCO would need to be conversant in the technologies and geeky enough to find "this stuff" interesting and useful enough to stay up to date.
  • A CCO would need to be someone who can talk to everyone, sit at all the relevant tables, and muster the troops, because this involves all departments in an organization.
So what do you think? Have I lost my mind? What did I miss?


Kelly Flowers said...

I agree Elizabeth. This should be the same caliber of individual that you would want to represent your org at a tv press conference--I think breaking it down in comparison to traditional media is one way to get this point across...Would you put a $10/hr intern at a podium in front of tv cameras to represent your org? Somehow, I doubt it...

Kristi Donovan said...

I don't think you're totally crazy. But I do think that community building fits well with membership - and with many of the potential job duties you describe, probably supercedes a "Chief Membership Officer" or whatever those folks call themselves.

Jeff Hurt said...

I like where you're going with this and agree with you.

I think the challenge lies in the fact that associations have created silos and the Chief Community Officer crosses those silos. It's a position that covers more than just membership, marketing, research, education or government relations departments. Associations should ultimately be about community. Unfortunately, many associations have forgotten the core principle that they exist for their community and have divided their tasks related to that community into nice, neat silos. Too bad our members don't fit into those nice neat silos as well. ;) Community is so much more than our association departments.

Maggie McGary said...

Thanks for linking to my post! I think you are totally spot-on with this. The thing is that no matter the title, the job duties remain the same: you can call the person an intern or you can call them the president of all things community; the reality is that the person needs to look like and do exactly what you describe. The rub lies with that person being empowered to do the stuff.

As Jeff says, silos are the huge obstacle that will ultimately prevent associations from being able to fully embrace social media and harness the power of their communities. In order for an association's social media initiatives to be successful, the social media "doer" must have the power to deconstruct silos and get staff to function as a whole rather than separate little parts each independent of the other. He/she must also understand how associations function because there is a big difference between association communities and for profit company communities. There are plenty of resources out there about building and managing community if you work at Sony or IBM or whatever; if you work at an association, you're pretty much on your own in a lot of respects.

I think that associations would do well to think of a Chief Community Officer as more than just a shiny new tool user; community management is about social media but it's also about member service and retention, new product development, events, governance, engagement, media relations, PR, marketing, etc; the same things association executives are concerned with and are, by virtue of their positions, empowered to manage and grow.

Anonymous said...

@Kelly - love the imagery of the press conference. A public rep is a public rep.

@Kristi - I could see it being a membership department function assuming you have someone who's capable of thinking beyond renewal notices and recruitment.

@Jeff - PREACH!

@Maggie - You, too!

Kristi Donovan said...

Guess I should clarify Elizabeth... this is what I think the membership function *should* be about... not about dues and renewals. Yeah, someone in membership probably needs to be tasked with processing... but no membership director out there should be wasting time on that stuff. They should be focused on community building.

Kristi Donovan said...

Or maybe, dump the "membership" title altogether, and put "dues, renewals, etc.," under Community. Yeah, maybe that's it.

Maybe that's much closer to what you are saying anyway.