flowing motion

Be a social media star: a menu board of 5 competences

Posted on: September 22, 2009

We are in social media because we really have fun

Most of us who get into social media because we love it.  We like computers and we are fairly sociable, though curiously, often introverted too.

We do what we love, and we do it happily all day long.

It’s only when we start to think about making money, that we start to think about monetizing. And then we start to think a lot about money. And we start to talk about it too.

Have you ever noticed that people in other industries don’t talk about money nearly as much as we do?

That’s because they have more than us.

Why other people make money

My ‘day job’, or at least my day-job in years gone by, was as a psychologist to commerce and industry. We put in systems – pay, performance appraisal, selection. Hell, even pensions.

Most social media firms are much too small to be bothered with such systems. That’s lucky. These systems tend to be rather dull.

The guiding principles behind the systems are another matter though.

Take competencies, for example.

We try to understand a job in terms of its essential skill base. What do we get done? What are the main clusters of tasks?

I’ve been edging toward a model for social media and this is what I’ve come up with.

Menu board of 5 competencies in social media

Competence 1: Customers

Who are our customers? If they used our service, what would they use it for? How do they satisfy that need without us?

Once we’ve introduced our service, how do they use it? What tweaks do they introduce?

This isn’t a customer-service role. It’s a strategic-role where our expertise is watching the people we serve.

Clay Shirky is the best example of a person who is expert in this role He works at the role of macro-strategy. What affects all of us?

We also need mavens working at the level of micro-strategy – our own industry, our own locality, our specific demographic. Anthropology and sociology are good foundations for this expertise.

Competence 2: Technology

Today, Seth Sternberg, founder of Meebo, posted his thoughts on managing startups over on Techcrunch.

He believes that the core team needs at least two technical people: the pixelator (design of the front end) and the person who makes the servers fly (backend).

That’s a useful framework to start with. Where is design and processing going? What is likely to break onto the scene in the next five years? What is flair and what is competence in the field?

In the social media world of south-east England, many of us rely on LoudMouthMan to give us an overview of what is happening.

I suspect many geeks are very specialized and are micro-micro, so to speak.  What are the slightly broader ‘chunks’ that match clusters or groups of apps who compete with each other?

Competence 3: Marketing

Now we get to looking after customers.  Marketers in the social media space are quite competent technically.  They use social media to find customers, respond to customers, and tweak the system to manage the % ROI.

This space is very noisy. But I perceive most people are chasing the business of big traditional companies who are perceived to be flush with cash.

I haven’t met too many social media marketers who will manage a startup.  The closest that I know of is Julius Solaris who is his own startup, so to speak.  He arrived in UK less than 18 months ago and has built an extensive network of entrepreneurs in London.

I’ve done a little work on the broad mega-picture of Facebook & Twitter and Linkedin users in UK

To work our own space – to go from zero customers to 1000’s of customers, we need to copy Julius.

Competence 4: Keeping it all together.

I have met some accountants at Julius’ meetups. Accountants who specialize in social media are as rare as hens’ teeth though.

Lawyers are a little more common, but not common at all. Omar Ha-Redeye, reading for his JD in Canada is the closest I know.

This post is my contribution to this competence ‘Keeping it all together’ by thinking ahead about our skill base.

Competence 5: Emergence

And lastly, who is Hannibal of the A team?

We sometimes bring ‘old world’ attitudes to social media. We want to be in-charge, largely because we don’t trust each other and we are terrified of losing control of the ‘rent’ – the unusual profits.

In reality, of course, we barely have any profit at all. This is part of the creative sector and few people get rich.

Hannibal doesn’t play this old fashioned role. Hannibal thinks up the game plan. Hannibal builds the missing trust and gets out some fair and cast iron contracts (that the lawyers, accountants and psychologists will make happen in their detail).

Hannibal coordinates. Hannibal sizes up the progress we make in our distinct arenas and passes information between us to help us stay together.

And second only to building trust, Hannibal senses the emergence of new understanding, clarity and more finely tuned goals. Hannibal represents the group to itself . . . represents the group to itself.

Hannibal must love the group, seriously love it.

We are Hannibal in our own lives. We think up our game plan. We help all the people who help us to trust each other. We pass information between them when they cannot do it themselves. We sense what we can do together and we represent this possibility so everyone can imagine a future that includes us . Universities have started to offer full semester courses to start students developing personal leadership.

Five competencies for managing a social media business

  • We need them all in part
  • It’s great when we find a maven who will keep us informed of broad changes
  • It seems to me that there are many opportunities to become experts at “industry” level (between niche and the broader picture).
  • “Keeping it all together” is calling for people with professional skills to specialize in social media.
  • We are all Hannibals in our own life.
  • Some people play the role of Hannibal in project teams and get very good at it.

Any use to you? Has this list helped you to check off your strengths and the strengths of your network?

Can you start a project team in the next month?  Who is missing from your team?

When you next go to a meetup, who are you hoping to find, probably standing somewhere quietly?

Any thoughts?

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1 Response to "Be a social media star: a menu board of 5 competences"

[…] Be a social media star: a menu board of 5 competences (flowingmotion.wordpress.com) […]

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