The next evolution of the social media manager position may very well focus on a puzzle piece that is largely missing in the social media strategy of news companies: monetization.
Cox Media Group digital posted an opening Wednesday for a “Social Monetization Manager (SMM)” — someone who will focus on a strategy and implementation that will drive revenue to the company’s 100+ TV, radio and newspaper properties.
Although Cox is one of the first news media companies to hire for a position of its kind, this may signal a larger shift for news companies experimenting with ways to monetize social media. In some ways, Cox is making a big bet that social media will play a big role in its revenue strategy — at least one big enough to require such a position. The position is part of a further shift in company strategy to invest in digital, and includes a recent structure shift that unified its digital and corporate business strategy groups to one team.
According to the LinkedIn listing, the person will have a blend of digital savvy and sales expertise:
“The right candidate will have a blend of digital media savvy, social media knowledge and first hand sales experience. While social will be the primary focus, the SMM will also have working knowledge regarding email/permission marketing and mobile/SMS packages. A sense of experimentation is a must for this individual as this segment of the business is relatively new, underdeveloped and without a prior history to build upon. To be successful, they will work with the product managers for the three platforms (social media, mobile, email) to guide development to ensure a sustainable business model and sales strategy. They will work across the entire organization to support both local sales teams and corporate strategy work.”
Alan Segal, senior manager of business intelligence and platforms at Cox Media Group digital, said for the last couple of years, social media has had a clear place of value in editorial, customer service and marketing. Many of Cox’s properties had people who would focus on these areas with Cox’s Social Media Manager Mathilde Piard helping facilitate best practices to individuals that manage social at individual properties.
In the last year, Piard began fielding more questions around monetizing social media from individual properties. More were interested in experimenting with different ways to use social to boost revenue. But because Piard was already managing social media implementation across editorial and other channels, Segal said it wasn’t feasible for her to also be responsible for monetization efforts, at which point it made sense to add someone to focus on monetization.
Though the company has done some experiments thus far, Segal expects the social media monetization manager to rethink the current approach and strategy.
“We need to get beyond the idea that a sponsored tweet is going to cut it and get many different tests in the field to see what will work,” Segal said. “Social has the potential to be really creative in the approach and we need to take advantage of that.”
Segal said more media companies will start to hire for such a position because social offers are different from what companies are used to selling in the digital space. Everything from the available inventory to the package has to be rethought and often tailored for each advertiser, he said, and that requires a specialist who thinks about how to leverage the space.
“Not everyone will do it, but I’d predict those that make the investment will get a much greater return,” he said.
Allen Klosowski, the social/mobile business manager at The Denver Post, has been at his post with similar responsibilities for a year now.
“A formal structure and strategy for a media company’s business approach to social media is critical,” Klosowski said.
As a business, any such efforts should have goals and accountability to determine what value the efforts are providing to the business, he said.
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His day-to-day activity varies from consulting with potential advertisers to designing programs that enable the advertisers to get the most exposure on social media. This month, the company is working with a local University to provide a free tuition for a semester of college through a Facebook promotion. In turn, the University is getting a exposure to their program through The Post’s Twitter & Facebook audience.