The Various Roles of Social Media in the Enterprise

The Various Roles of Social Media in the Enterprise

I had a short yet interesting twitter discussion the other day with Jim Durbin, a social media recruiter, about social media and commissions. It then evolved into a brief discussion about the different roles in social media. I think Jim was perhaps insinuating that I thought social media was just about community management. It’s not.

At the core, social media is about a direct relationship-conversation-engagement-dialogue-poke-nudge-reciprocal-follow between a brand and a consumer. In my mind which has been wrong many times, community management serves as the execution arm of social media in most cases. I am probably oversimplifying it a bit but I think you catch my drift.

There are several other job functions that also fit beneath the social media center of responsibility. Here is the way I see it:

Social Media Strategist: This person is responsible for defining a global strategy which includes training, corporate blogs, community applications & capabilities, Youtube, etc.  They are responsible for providing guidance to other marketing groups and geographies; specifically to managers who wish to employ a social media program or initiative. They may help execute in some cases.

Community Manager: A community manager usually manages an editorial calendar for a blog/community, a twitter account and various third party social channels. They may also be responsible for managing a social listening platform like Radian6 and filtering/assigning conversations to others in the business unit. Sometimes they may even organize in person events (or Townhalls) to get feedback from the community. They are the face of the brand.  Conversations are at the core of their job responsibility.

Social Media Manager: This is a hybrid role; and may define strategy as well as execute. They own marketing campaigns and probably manage an agency or vendor.  They may also be in charge of buying media within social media channels like Facebook, Digg, etc. They may work closely with community managers to leverage/integrate the conversational elements into each campaign.

Public Relations: In many organizations, PR serves as a pivotal role in social media. They usually blog and use twitter. They also have relationships with external bloggers; and may attempt to seed stories to influencers.

Social Media Metrics: I don’t know what an official title would be; but this person would be responsible for defining a social media metrics framework (both on and off domain) and reporting the results back up to management. They may even make specific, data driven recommendations about a given campaign. In some organizations, metrics may be the responsibility of any of the above positions.

Legal: Usually a lawyer, duh; but the responsibilities of one working to support social media would involve keeping up to date with FTC guidelines related to blogging and user generated content. They may also read/review terms and conditions when employing social media capabilities on a corporate domain.

Privacy/Security: This position is vital and they usually work closely with legal.  At Yahoo!, we called them the Paranoids.  They are interested in not only protecting the privacy of corporate assets, but they also ensure that marketing organizations abide by privacy laws on the Internet.

Customer Support: Depending on the size of the organization, there may or may not be a dedicated resource from the customer support group that manages social media opportunities. Essentially, the role would be to find opportunities on the web that may run a sour situation into a sweet one; and delight customers on the web.

Ad Sales: I am a little torn on this. I am not completely sure if this would be a social media position or a sales position. Nonetheless, if this person is selling ad space at Yahoo, Digg or similar site, they will need to fully understand the dynamics of the communities they represent, which would require some level of participation.

Employees: Some organizations empower their employees to participate in social media on behalf of the company. Of course, this participation is done above and beyond what their normal job responsibilities entail.

Also, in 2009 I wrote a post about how to build a social media team. Much of it is still relevant today.

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About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • jasperblake

    By allowing multiple moderators to access one system online, a tool like Social-smart ( can allow all these players to contribute via one location – what Jeramiah Owyang ( calls the Hub & Spoke model. It can also offset some of the legal issues by allowing moderators to access pre-set message clips that can be inserted into messaging as needed with one click. This can help to offset some of the corporate fears of losing control. In an increasingly fragmented social world companies will need a tool that can integrate not only their social media channels and PR, but also search and email as well.

  • Ryan

    You may also want to read this article on what employers think about social media :

  • AmberNaslund

    Hey Michael,

    This is a really interesting list you've pulled together. Do you think as I do that some of these positions are more likely to get mashed together in some companies? I'm hoping that we don't make social media a “department” per se, but that we have people that are using social media to do their jobs better across the enterprise, no matter their role.

    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community, Radian6

  • Michael Brito

    Hi Amber,

    Yes of course. At smaller companies, these roles can easily be rolled up into one or two people. But I agree with you. Success to me is when employees from every discipline can use social media to communicate directly with consumers.

    Thanks for the comment. Btw, the post I was telling you about on your blog is not this one. Still working on it. Have a great weekend.


  • Urban Conservative

    Awesome post Britopian! You hit this one right on the head! It's definitely hard working in the enterprise versus agency/consulting. We have it easy.

  • thillai


  • Josh

    Hey Michael, good post brother. One department is left out though – staffing. Where's the love man?

    I have to believe that came up in your conversations with Jim. He's a staffing dude of sorts after all. :)

    Good stuff as always, your categorizations and thought process are very useful.



  • landroverspares

    Social media sites play an important role with the online industry.I never thought some of the it and thanks for opening my eyes with some of the situations you mention on your article.

  • leosaraceni

    When you say social media is not all about community management, but about a complete multiple-way communication channel, I think you're being a little redundant.

    As a company engages people in social media, starting, adding to, or monitoring a conversation, they're taking the initial step towards receving reciprocal action – therefore igniting a community. In the end, it all comes down to building a community.

    Leo S.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I think as the whole idea of social media evolves it will spawn many different segments of it. It will be interesting to see how the social aspect evolves over time.

  • Kye Swenson

    I'm seeing more and more companies mash up these social media roles, or require employees to at least be knowledgeable about social media tools. Our marketing department has recently created a Twitter profile, and every employee in the department is at least somewhat involved in maintaining the account and suggesting new tweets etc. It's amazing how Twitter has become more measurable; tools such as TweetBeep and Twitter's local business directory have helped both small and large businesses drive more traffic to their websites and keep better trakc of their customers. I can't wait to see what improvements come next.

  • angelia110
  • keshilla

    well done,

  • onlinebroker

    Looks like social media are the current big thing, when even normal firms pick it up.

  • Eric Rudolf

    I think this is an interesting article, and I'm glad you wrote it–but I think it's a bit ahead of its time. As a career marketing professional (17 years) who is always hiring additional staff, I find it interesting how few of the above titles are actually used on a regular basis. In most cases, these types of positions are listed as “Marketing Coordinators” or “Marketing Managers,” with Social Media listed as a job requirement or function. I wonder when the market will eventually catch up with these designations, if ever. Nice work.

  • Richard Clark Marketing Blog

    Interesting topic. Do you have any view on how many organisations utilise the full breadth of roles you identify?

    I'm sure more will follow this approach in the coming years as social media evolves into a more central component of organisations

  • trauringe


  • Gene De Libero

    I agree with AmberNaslund; there's a definite trend toward grouping various social media roles together. Whether it's about saving money or ignornace of the social space, it's something that needs to be addressed with prospective employers.

    To be effective in any role, you need clear definitions of what the expectations are for that role. Push back on anything that doesn't feel right and educate the folks out there. Now's the time!

  • Blandine Mouren

    I love what you write. It is always accurate and terribly useful. Bravo and thanks.

  • CorporateSocialNetworkSoftware

    Great write up, as more and more businesses are embracing social media this is must have information