All morning I have been reading updates about Google’s new job search for Head of Social. Being an avid Google user in many regards, my initial reaction was: Yes, Finally! Then I began to read the job description and the further comments and blogposts from other techies and social media experts. I’m afraid Google has missed their mark. Indeed they need someone with social media experience, management and strategic thinking, entrepreneurialism and competence, a leader, and so on. But as long as they understand the capability and potential of the technology, their understanding of human behavior in social and global marketplaces is more important in order for them to succeed at social.
We are talking about “social” here. And what is social? People. When I work with clients on social strategy, they have been caught up in the technology and forgotten about the people element. “Needing” the latest social platforms and tools, referring to people as users, not looking at the human potential or needs, understanding how their own strategy fits in the social strategy are all challenges they share. I am just surprised to see a colossal like Google making the same mistake. Fix it by making it more applications or gadgets or going away from the mission itself will not solve the problem, in fact it will make it worse. Buzz and Wave have great functionality, but who needs yet another thing to add to their list of places to check in order to be sure you are up on the latest information.
Head of Social at Google is being positioned under Director of Product Management, Social. To solve the problem their needs to be a more social emphasis that is not simply product based (although this role is also needed). I agree with some of the point brought up by Mehendra in 10 questions presented for the Google Head of Social on Skeptic Geek blog. Mostly I think he captured the point of where is the strategy overall. If Google is to succeed in the social marketplace, they need to re-evaluate their social strategy and integrate it into their business strategy overall. They need to look for a Director of Social Strategy who understands the big picture. Hiring just a product manager when the overall strategy is missing a critical component is set up for failure. Look at sociology or community experts to add to the mix. Just because they are big doesn’t mean they don’t have the same challenges as everyone else adapting to the social economy. Fortunately for them they have the capacity and the resources to do something about it.