Last month, my South African colleague David Graham asked me for typical skills and traits to describe a true social media manager. In my opinion, a social media manager isn’t someone who is responsible for managing a company’s social media accounts, like a LinkedIn group, Facebook page, or Twitter account. A social media manager helps a company transition into a social business; a people oriented organization, that creates value (and profit) for and together with the stakeholders within their own network. Maybe that’s why, I prefer the term social business strategist.

What makes a true social business strategist?

A true social business strategist is someone who is…

Social! If you’re not interested in other people, their behavior, and the things that motivate them, you have no business being a social (!!!) business strategist.

Curious about new technologies. The world has changed rapidly in the past couple of years. It’s pretty much impossible, to imagine what’s going to happen next. If you’re not curious about new technologies, staying up to speed and in touch with thought leaders through blogs, podcasts, or social media, you’re not meant to be a social business strategist.

Persistent and patient. Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight. People are creatures of habit, and only few of them are open to change. Focus all your energy and effort on these early adopters and work towards a tipping point (around 16% of the people within an organization according to the innovation adoption curve).

A player. Yes, organizations are strange places. Your CEO might be the highest paid individual within your company. This doesn’t mean he or she is willing and able to call all the shots. A social business strategist is able to use this knowledge to his/her advantage, by knowing who are the true influencers and decision makers within a company. Playing the game sometimes means taking a step back, to leap forward later on.

A social media heavy weight. Why would you take driving lessons from someone that never drives a car? Exactly, you don’t. If your aspiring social business strategists don’t use social media themselves, don’t expect them to understand the underlying mechanisms, let alone teach other people how to use these networks.

A positive source of inspiration. A true social business strategist is able to transfer his/her knowledge and enthusiasm to other people within your organization. This requires quite some energy. Especially, when you keep in mind, (initial) responses might not always be positive. Some training, educational, and presentation skills come in handy.

Truly adding value to the organization. This addition by Clive Roach pretty much sums up my thesis. The days that money was invested in a nice looking Facbook or LinkedIn campaign, are long gone. A true social business strategist will make sure that his/her activities eventually contribute to the business goals of the organization; these being more income, less expenses, and/or greater customer satisfaction.

This article was initially published in Dutch on