Altimeter: Career Path of the Corporate Social Media Strategist

Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang recently completed research into the role of client-side social media strategists. Timely, as many Dachis Group clients are determining how to best organize for social business. Related: Jive’s Gia Lyons considers the report from the E2.0/IT/internal side.

Jeremiah offers ten guidelines for hiring a social media lead:

  1. Hire a program manager rather than a social media “hot shot.”
  2. Seek candidates with a track record of early technology adoption in their careers.
  3. Scrutinize how they have used social media in the past.
  4. Seek backgrounds that demonstrate the ability to manage dotted-line resources and agency partners.
  5. Look for a corporate entrepreneur, comfortable with “calculated risks.”
  6. Ensure a culture fit – as the Social Strategist will tackle change management.
  7. Find a natural born connector – both internally and externally.
  8. Celebrate those risks by enabling them to “fail forward,” while clearing their obstacles.
  9. Enable them to connect to peers and invest in their knowledge and career growth.
  10. Protect your investment by providing new challenges and compensate well – they are highly coveted.

Altimeter has made the research publicly available; you can access the full report here and charts & graphs here.


In my experience, social business efforts are still nascent, making the use of terms like “career” and “strategist” a bit premature. Companies need help finding professionals who will put corporate brand before personal brand. They need agile managers who can respond quickly to emerging opportunities in rapidly changing platforms. Most importantly, an organization structure needs to be in place to govern “social” investments – technology, media, headcount – to drive value back to the business.

Don’t get me wrong; I think this is a useful report. It’s a highly useful guide for individuals who are currently in or aspire to hold social media management positions.

My advice to executives with the scope and span of control to impact the enterprise: focus on hiring social business executives who are interested in building corporate brands and bottom lines first, personal careers and ego after.

0 thoughts on “Altimeter: Career Path of the Corporate Social Media Strategist”

  1. Hi Peter:

    One more thing. Don’t even think about this hire unless you have C-level support. Scott Monty has had the full support of Ford CMO Jim Farley for radical programs like the Fiesta Movement.

    That is unusual.

    @tomob

  2. Great Post, and I agree! That ‘C-level’ support is critical to the success of the position. If they don’t ‘get it’ the strategist doesn’t stand a chance at achieving real results!

    @Tracy_Iglesias

  3. Great Post, and I agree! That ‘C-level’ support is critical to the success of the position. If they don’t ‘get it’ the strategist doesn’t stand a chance at achieving real results!

    @Tracy_Iglesias

  4. To Tim’s point on C-level support – we have found that it is also critical that this social strategist have strong business competency. Long after the “special project” excitement fades, the social strategist has to be able to integrate their strategies into the business and align value to the values that matter most.

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