Everybody’s looking for a social media director
Yet another winery has hired a social media marketing manager. This time, it’s V. Sattui, known to generations of Napa Valley visitors for its picnic facilities right on Highway 29.
I don’t know how many wineries have created social media manager jobs. It all started with Murphy-Goode, of course. St. Supery jumped on the bandwagon soon after. Gallo recently posted a job offer for someone to “Utilize social media technologies/networks to listen, engage with, and converse with brand consumers in the digital space.”
But even if a winery doesn’t have a full-time social media director job opening, chances are that proficiency in social media is part of the job description for an administrative assistant or marketing manager or some similar title. For example, at winejob.com, Saddleback is looking for a sales associate who is “Proficient with social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In) and the Internet.” Another winery, which wouldn’t name itself, is hiring a P.R. person who “Must be extremely proficient with social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In) and the Internet.” Boisset Family Estates is looking for a wine club manager with a social media background, Opus One wants a marketing manager with “a strong understanding of…web conversation monitoring tools (social media etc.),” and an unnamed winery in Santa Rosa is seeking a winery operations person to manage “social media development.”
Surely the words “social media” would not have existed in a winery job description one year ago. You’ll forgive me for noting that there’s a sense of frantic catching up here, as though the managers responsible for pushing these job openings through are thinking, “OMG, I don’t know what to do, but I have to do something or else I’ll get fired, so let me hire someone who…” etc. etc. Of course, wineries aren’t the only companies looking for social media directors. Wrigley, the chewing gum and candy company, is seeking a social media manager, a “Self starter with an entrepreneurial spirit,” which most social media hounds I know seem to be. Right here in my home town of Oakland, Clorox is hiring a “Corporate Counsel- Social Media/Talent Rights” to protect the company’s advertising. Sutter Health, the giant health insurer, is looking for a communications coordinator for news and social media, someone who can raise “awareness, understanding, acceptance and/or preference of the Sutter Health network through high-quality strategic communications plans and activities.” (That person will have his or her work cut out for him; Sutter is frequently under attack by consumer groups.)
Most of these jobs envision social media as part of the company’s P.R., media relations and external communications divisions, and that’s exactly what makes me wonder if the successful applicants may not be setting themselves up for failure. After all, the essence of social media is transparent authenticity, right? People read my blog and Facebook postings because they know Steve has no reason to post things except for a desire to express himself, with no hope of gain. But if you’re blogging, Facebooking and tweeting about a company that employs you, the inference can surely be made that you’re not being particularly authentic, but are saying what the company, through your direct supervisor, wants you to say, or not saying what they don’t want you to say. I don’t see how a company can get around that inescapable conclusion.
Now, I hope people won’t interpret my remarks as social media bashing, although I expect some will. I am just making a very common sense point. Everybody knows that P.R. is never neutral. A paid spokesperson, whether it be the President’s press secretary, a celebrity endorser in an advertisement, or a blogger who gets a cut of the profits off products she plugs, never can have total credibility. If I owned a winery, I’m sure I would also hire a social media manager. I’m not blaming anyone who does; it’s the right thing to do, now; they’re all making a necessary move. But I’d like to know if, in 2, 3 or 5 years, these dedicated positions are going to exist. I have a hunch that social media managers are going to see their jobs morph into more conventional areas, and that tweeting, blogging and Facebooking will be incidental, not central, to their everyday work. And some of them will be laid off.