Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Conductor

Companies currently planning their future social media initiatives are weighing the pros and cons of utilizing an in-house team, their agency of record, a social media consultant or a combination of all three – a hybrid approach. Regardless, all successful social media movements will need a conductor.

Read On:
I am still exploring the new world of social media. Based on what I have experienced, I would like to share with you what I believe are the key character traits of a good social media conductor:

Strategic Thinker – A good conductor has been classically trained, thus recognizes that social media is another marketing tool that will be integrated with the company’s current strategic initiatives to enhance its overall business. As a strategic thinker, a good conductor understands social media accord – the value of establishing rules of engagement, identifying the proper resources and messaging needed to clearly broadcast the company’s voice amongst all the social media clutter.

Leadership – A good conductor orchestrates all the company’s social media players to collaborate effectively and create harmony. In addition, the conductor leads by example, thus engages with the company’s audience (a.k.a. community).

Analytical – All social media movements must be measured. Consequently, a good conductor understands how to interpret the data, like reading a newspaper review the day after a performance and recognizes what is working, what is not working.

Intellectual Curiosity – A good conductor stays informed because we live in a world dominated by technology and information that changes in nanoseconds.

Improvises – A good conductor understands improvisation. Conductors play to their audience, they are flexible, thus able to switch gears when necessary.

I have named five character traits of a good social media conductor. Do you have any additional suggestions?


  1. Great post. I would add Humility as a complement to Analytical. As much as a conductor knows, he/she also benefits from learning from mistakes, listening to others and redirecting the course as needed.

    No one likes a know it all.

  2. Great post, Jimmy. My only addition is the obvious: A company's social media plan is but one tool in the organization's toolbox. It needs to integral part --- not a stand-alone entity ---in a company's brand efforts. I suspect this factor was assumed in your list, but it bears pointing out.

  3. I really like the analogy of a conductor. This is very true. All your points are right on.
    I would add that the size of the company has something to do with this mix as well. Very large companies will need more than the conductor- they will need a customer service agent and a monitor of inbound data as two examples. Each has its own initiative and the conductor needs to see the large picture of all to guide the business accordingly.

  4. Jimmy,

    Great post. I would add that the Conductor must also be willing to experiment, to try new things and to risk failure.

    With the speed and relatively low cost of social media, experimentation is part of the marketing mix.


  5. Interesting stream of comments. Thank you everyone. The analogy resonated for a lot of people that commented here and via email. Once again thank you for your input, but more importantly for your continued readership.

  6. Like everyone else, I agree with the analogy wholeheartedly. I think one trait to be added to the is empathy. Being able to relate to upset customers complaining through social media or customers in general is critical to responding in a way that has meaning (at least in my humble opinion).

  7. Hi Jimmy,

    An excellent summation of the traits needed to manage an organization's social media 'face'.

    As for whether a company would want to do this in-house or hand it off to a marketing firm to manage, one issue that will weigh heavily in that is the recent number of SM gaffes made by non-employees at marketing firms mistakenly using the wrong accounts to post certain updates online.

  8. Jimmy -

    I'm not going to add anything or weigh in with my thoughts. It's late and I just drove 400 miles up to Vermont. What I will say is that after the trip up here, me being completely spent, I am so glad I took the time to read this article. Spot on. Amazing insight. I feel smarter after reading it.


    Ryan T