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Building a Social Media Team: The Project Manager

As the use and expectations of social media grow in the enterprise, so does the amount of work that’s necessary to realize goals. Somebody has to manage that work or it will quickly spiral into uncoordinated threads that consume time and resources. In our series, Building a Social Media Team, we have looked at the community manager and social strategist. Now we will examine a role that exists to ensure what the community manager and social strategist envision actually happens — on time and on budget.

Getting Things Done

Many businesses that decide to invest in social underestimate the amount of work required for their social programs to be successful. Even modest social efforts focused on marketing often require coordinating several people, departments, external vendors and dates. The increasing use of social media and growing realization that more than a few Facebook posts are necessary to achieve business goals has caused the number of opportunities for social media project managers to increase dramatically in the last few years.
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Although this role may have different titles across organizations:

  • Social media manager
  • Social media program manager
  • Social media project manager
  • Social media program lead
  • Social program coordinator

the responsibilities are similar. Social media program managers must understand business goals, be able to run multi-campaign and project programs, measure social media impacts against business objectives, and perhaps most importantly, effectively communicate.

Communication skills are essential for all project management, but it is especially vital for those people that manage social media teams. The very nature of social media is “social.” Project managers that don’t understand the importance of two-way communication and working collaboratively will not be successful.

This doesn't mean the technical aspects of project management are not important. A report by the Altimeter Group found that most companies lack formalized social media processes. A lack of process makes it more difficult to respond in a crisis, manage employee behavior and consistently implement social initiatives. Project managers with an ability to establish formal processes can play an important role in helping create, implement, monitor and measure the performance of social programs.

What organizations want to accomplish when it comes to social media can vary and so can their needs. However, social media project managers should possess several core characteristics:

  • A passion for social media — If a candidate believes the term tweet is just a sound birds make, look elsewhere for someone to manage your social media program.
  • Friendly, patient and responsive.
  • Detail oriented and timely.
  • Comfortable working with creative and technical personalities that may be neither detail oriented or timely.
  • Not overly confident in his or her social media skills — This can lead to the project manager attempting to control the shape of social media programs instead of managing them.
  • Excellent team builder — Listens to team member concerns, resolves conflicts, encourages feedback.

Great social media project managers may possess many additional qualities, but having this core set of attributes provide a solid foundation for success.

The Circle of Success

No matter what type of social program an organization is pursuing, a strong, competent social media program manager is critical.

It is interesting to note that the relationship between social media and project management is not just one-way. Social media can also make it easier to manage projects. Vendors have introduced a new breed of social project management platforms that leverage social mechanisms to improve project communication, information sharing and collaboration. These tools allow team members to interact more naturally and provide more visibility into the actual work that’s occurring in the project. 

Does your organization have a social media project manager? What did you learn filling the role? We would love to hear your feedback.

 
 
 
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