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8 Qualities of a Social Media Expert
September 27, 2011 - 8:45pm

A diversity of skills in our units and our departments is necessary to ensure productivity and innovation. Amongst the skills and expertise that every unit or division or department should include is someone who is proficient and passionate with social media.

I'm not talking about people who like to scribble scribble on a blog (like me), or who are mad Twitterers. People who are active social media creators and participants may not be experts in social media. We often confuse passion with expertise, a particular danger with a domain as new as social media.

Social media expertise is not an "add-on" to a another professional identity, but a central element of the portfolio of skills on offer.

An expert in social media will have, I think, the following characteristics:

1) Be Part of a Community of Practice: This community might converge online via specific blogs, Twitter accounts, or social sites - or might take the form of conferences and professional organizations.

2) Invests Time in Continuous Learning: Reads the literature on social media, from books to articles to sites to blogs to tweets. Participates in webinars and specialist conference / training opportunities.

3) Inspires Colleagues to Experiment: Paints a compelling narrative for colleagues about the benefits of participation in social media. Influences the local team / dept culture to see investment of time, energy and resources to be active in social media as aligned with the larger goals of the unit and organization.

4) Models Best Practices: Talks the talk and walks the walk. Participation in social media from the team social media expert is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition of leadership in this area.

5) Creates Platforms, Tools and Opportunities for Colleagues: Understanding and eliminating the barriers for team participation in social media is a key task. Barriers might involve available platforms for participation, the need for education and training, or a fear of failure.

6) Is Focused on Team and Department Metrics and Objectives: Understands the larger objectives of the unit / team / department - and is able to translate social media practices into meeting these larger goals. Does the work to aggregate, synthesize, and communicate the social media contributions of team members to leadership and across the institution / company.

7) Pushes A Social Media Agenda Outside of Department or Unit: The unit / dept / team social media expert should be recognized for her / his expertise in the larger institution or company. The leadership in social media demonstrated within the department needs to be extended and diffused throughout the organization.

8) Makes Lots of Mistakes: A big reason that our colleagues do not take advantage of the opportunities for communication, collaboration and learning through social media is fear. We worry about saying something that will make a boss, a colleague, or a customer upset. A leader in social media will make mistakes and say things that make people unhappy, but they will demonstrate that this is survivable and an opportunity for learning.

What characteristics, skills and experiences for social media expertise would you add to this list?

Does your department, unit or team contain an expert in social media?


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