As promised in a previous post “Why are clients still scratching their heads about Social Media?” I wanted to look at the additional skills that marketing leaders will need to possess from now on to understand the new world of social media and drive real benefit from it.

This post has been prompted by some research by recruitment firm Major Players covered by Revolution Magazine that claims online marketing growth “may be stunted by a sheer lack of social media knowledge in the talent pool.”

I’m not suggesting that we need to have a “Head of Social Media” AND a “Head of Marketing Communications”, because marketing leaders of the future will need to be multi skilled and be able to utilise all available channels – old and new.

In my opinion, companies wishing to appoint a new marketing director or leader will require an individual with a broad set of start-up as well as commercial experience, demonstrated leadership, influence and familiarity with social media and new technology.

Specifically, my view is the right candidate should have experience in 4 key areas:

Start-up experience

  • Launched and grown multiple tech start-ups from standing start
  • Delivered $M revenues in year 1
  • Managed all aspects of the business from tech, sales & marketing, branding, PR & staff

You need to be nimble and flexible in this new space, and also able to make money (provide a return on investment) early.  You may be on your own (in a real start-up or starting inside an established corporate) for a while so need to have experience in getting things going from a standing start.

Corporate experience

  • Worked in large corporates in operational, strategy or business development role
  • Intimate understanding of the processes and issues surrounding large corporates

This skillset is I believe vital because you need to be aware that big companies move slowly and won’t change overnight.

I would hazard a guess that many “social media experts” do not have a broad appreciation of what it is like to function in a big corporate – you need this from on the ground experience in my opinion.

Indeed when I enter a large corporate and I explain I have worked at senior levels for large organisations they realise straight away that I can “feel their pain”.  A couple of recent clients have been in the financial space and they are bound by a myriad of internal and external compliance processes and procedures.  Telling them to “just stick up a twitter page dude” doesn’t cut the mustard.


  • Respected and sought after influencer in the social media space
  • Regularly asked to share knowledge and views at conferences & events
  • Seen as a “go to” person in the social media apace
  • Well connected across multiple disciplines

You need to be respected in the space – people should want to hear what you have to say, and you should also be generous enough to share other people’s thoughts and credit them on a regular basis so the great ideas get out and start being put into action.

Social media & new technology

  • Active participant across multiple social networks
  • Evidence of early experimentation with new technologies
  • Own blog with established following

Here – you need to walk the talk! If you don’t use the technology and new media, how can you hope to understand it? Why not check out a site that shows you how long they have been using twitter for at

As an aside, there is a brilliant post by Damian Damjanovski (@damjanov) on refinedgeek that shows a graph of your job description “by the date you joined twitter”

Do you agree/disagree with my view?  Would this work in practice?

Leave a comment below or join the debate on twitter @andrewgrill