How to Build a team for Social Business

How big is your team? A simple question — with an increasingly not-so-simple answer. But three years ago the answer was easy: Me.

While not quite a one-man-show (thanks to agency support), I was the only full-time person at McDonald’s dedicated to social media.

Today, our social media team not only has an expanded roster, but the responsibility and execution has become diffused across the organization. I’ll write more about our setup in a future post, but given our recent growth, I’ve begun reflecting on the different skill sets that we have and where we could grow. Allow me to dream a bit about what my dream team would look like.

With the start of baseball season upon us, here are nine positions that would make up a championship caliber social media team.

The Designer: The Photoshop and Indesign slinger who could whip out infographics and meme-worthy food shots in a flash. I’d also want him or her to be able to absolutely crush it on Vine.

The Data Geek: A former boss used to love to say, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” My data geek would help us find the best ways to optimize campaigns and love wading through the mountains of data—fed by a stream of nearly 3 million McD’s related tweets each month—to glean new consumer insights for powering our business.

The Tinkerer: Despite all of the wonderfully simple publishing tools, I will always want someone who can code. The kind of person who lives for hackathons and will show up to the office with sleepy pride and the look of “here is what I built instead of sleeping last night” attitude. My tinkerer would also have an ability to sniff out new platforms and help quickly determine if the latest shiny object might have some business value for our company.

The Gamer: Gaming people simply think differently. I learned that from my friends at the Game Agency. Their ability to add fun and competition to even the most mundane business tasks would be an awesome commodity to have around the office every day. They just can’t be too good at NBA2K13 because I hate losing at hoops on XBox.

The Intern: Every intern that I’ve worked with has been awesome. The ingredients of an amazing intern are: super smarts, raw talent, unencumberance of a permanent job, not being worn down by years of work. I’ll take that combination and enthusiasm around the office every day.

The PR Pro: While this would seem obvious, my ideal PR pro would be someone who is not entirely a social native. He or she would “get” social but what I want from the hack on my team is an old-school skill set. A former journalist, and/or great writer, with a virtual Rolodex that is an embarrassment of rich contacts and a mindset that constantly frames and re-frames what we are saying with how we are saying it, and a perspective on how our key audiences will react.

The Media Buyer (with SEO, etc): While I firmly believe that PR should own social, PR people suck at media buying—PR people—please insert your “hey, that’s not fair” comment here and I will counter with the millions of times I’ve heard “I went into PR because I don’t like math” retort. As social sites get increasingly good at monetizing, smart media buyers will be invaluable to ensure that your company isn’t getting over-monetized. My ideal media buyer will also be able to bring top tier skills in SEO, SEM, PPC, etc to the job and use those insights to make our writing and content stronger.

The Community Manager: Yep. Community Manager(s). Need ‘em. Love ‘em.

The Customer Service Pro: The customer service pros that we have on the McDonald’s team were some of the first and most essential members. Who better to deal with upset customers on Twitter than folks who grew up dealing with the frenetic pace of a call center and who also have the calm demeanor to diffuse almost any situation?

Beyond those specialized skills, there are a few additional traits that everyone on my team must have.

Everyone must be curious: Curious as in always exploring, questioning, testing and willing to try new things. My friend Abby Klanecky has famously said “Scientists are perfect for social media because they are naturally curious.” I want that attitude to be dripping from everyone that I work with.

Everyone must be creative: New ideas are the lifeblood of any brand that wants to be social, so creativity must be core to every person’s psyche. But my ideal creative spirits must be able to work at three different levels:

1. Applying new thinking to new platforms.

2. The “blue sky” thinking that drives the best innovation

3. “In the box” creativity. While “out of the box” thinking is hailed as the driver of creativity, countless hours have been wasted in brainstorms devising ideas that simply won’t work. A truly creative person will develop a sense for what boundaries can be pushed and which are immovable.

Everyone must be a good writer: When it is all said and done, writing is the single most important skill in the social world. From the perfectly witty tweet, to the expert response to soothe an upset customer, to the business case that secures a key budget, good writing is essential.

That’s my dream team. Who is on yours?

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