Not long ago, Vault spoke with Wendy Soucie, the global head of social media at motion and control technologies manufacturer Parker Hannifin. Soucie discussed with us how she became a social media manager, what the best and worst parts of her job are, and the advice she has for anyone looking to work in the booming social media management field. Below is an excerpt from that conversation.
VAULT: How long have you worked in the field?
SOUCIE: I’ve been working in the online and digital space since late 1999. My first related experience with Internet marketing was during my time working with IT (hardware and software), Web application development, and the hosted software space. As the market shifted to Web-based transactions and marketing, I rode the wave with it and went to work for a digital marketing agency (Web sites, online and offline marketing). While we built Web sites and provided online media development, I began to use social media channels on behalf of the agency to share thought leadership, extend our brand, and help people find us using local search.
VAULT: What made you want to enter this career?
SOUCIE: In 2005, when I was researching social media, I found that the possibilities for using it creatively for business were immense. I felt so strongly about where social would be going that I left the digital marketing agency in 2009 and started my own consulting practice to concentrate on social media integration across business-to-business organizations. In 2012, the opportunity to work for a global manufacturing enterprise in the technical product and service area was presented and ideal based on my prior career experience.
VAULT: What are the most important personal and professional qualities for people in your career?
SOUCIE: I think some of the key personal qualities are ethical behavior, friendliness, openness, and helpfulness. Actual skills are a core understanding of business strategy, communications strategy, and actual use of the various social platforms (blogging, social networking, video, image sharing, etc.). Professionally, understanding the short-term and long-term implications of your activities across a brand and across local, regional, national, and global organizations is huge. In larger organizations, manager and higher positions really need deep and varied business experiences to balance activities across departments. Crisis management skills for both public relations, as well as customer service areas, are a real plus. At an administrative level, understanding how to share various content formats (video, images, text, and audio), search engine marketing strategy, social media optimization, along with excellent writing and editing skills, are very important.
VAULT: What are some of the pros and cons of your job?
SOUCIE: The pros are working with all areas of the company—from strategic global marketing to product development. It’s fun to be helpful and to engage customers and prospects in conversations that we hope will help them better understand the organizations, our culture, and our capabilities. Ultimately, we will have accomplished a lot if, by using the social ecosystem, we can solve problems in the areas of motion and control technologies, alert prospects about our capabilities, and showcase our thought leadership. The cons are managing the risks to a global brand that you might expect with working for a decentralized brand in this space.
VAULT: What advice would you give to social media job seekers in terms of applying to and interviewing for jobs?
SOUCIE: Before you apply for a social media position, you should do everything you can to build a strategic social media presence in the core platforms that the company or type of organization you want to work for is in. Make your profiles connection worthy, clean up photographs, and adjust your privacy and security settings to protect yourself. Be wary of sharing social media strategies you have done for others since that work is providing them a competitive advantage and you must be very careful of disclosing that strategic advantage even in a job interview. If you know that blogging or blog editing will be a part of your responsibilities, begin to blog on topics that can showcase your writing and editing skills. Write articles and post and share in other sites. Show your prospective employer that you know the strategy behind using social for good.
This post was adapted from the new Vault Career Guide to Social Media.