“Head of Social Media”

Ogilvy’s head of social media in the UK has left because he “found the agency model challenging”. Here’s his quote –

“I wanted to look for a new challenge where I can be a little bit more involved. Agencies with a lot of clients which focus on a head of social media – it’s a great move forward, but I can be spread very thin. I end up where I’m not being used to my best abilities.

“You come across the same thing at lots of agencies. It will take a bit of time with training before agencies have more specialists in this area. The expectation can be a little high for any individual to cover,” he told PR Week

Reading more of the article shows that Maz was working across 10 of the Ogilvy agency brands which is intense, especially in a market the size of the UK.

The title “head of social media” definitely comes with its own baggage but in my experience, it seems as if there are two types of heads.

The first is the big thinker, someone who can be the inspirational figurehead to the organisation, parachuting into client engagements and doing the up front consulting or hand-holding to make the client feel as comfortable as possible. Typically these are the easiest to find. They generally do a lot of public speaking, have a tonne of Twitter followers and are often quoted in the trade rags. Some have strong real-world experience in executing their work but, based on what colleagues have told me, most do not.

The problem with the first type of social media head is that he or she is not scalable. At some point you have to hand off the execution to…someone. You can’t do it all by yourself. But to hand a project off once the strategy and planning is baked means you have to have a team otherwise you end up executing and its not the best use of your time, abilities or experience. Especially if you’re being pulled across multiple agency brands and clients.

The second is lower profile and more focused on getting stuff done. On building a book of business and then a team around that business. Cindy Gallop says that the future belongs to those who make stuff – produce ideas, build teams and win business. She’s right.

Somewhere you have to make the choice – do you want to be inspiring or do you want to build a business. Because building a business is like social media. It isn’t about the grand vision. Ultimately it is about being in the trenches, winning on a day-to-day basis on every interaction you have with your community and your clients.

via Ogilvy’s head of social media Maz Nadjm leaves casting doubt on agency roles | The Wall Blog.


5 Responses to “Head of Social Media”

  1. Joe Boughner says:

    This is right in line with Altimeter’s social strategist career path report, though more favorably inclined towards the doers rather than the thinkers/talkers.


    I guess my question, Ed, is how does the vision of an embedded, in-the-trenches, team-focused head of social media jive with the agency model? It seems more like an in-house position than an agency one, doesn’t it?

    • Ed Lee says:

      i think different horses for different courses, to be honest. some agencies can get away with thinkers and support them with business people who can grow a business and the in-the-trenches guy can always look to others in the agency for that inspiration…I feel closer to the second group and look to our senior planners to create that spark, especially those who are more emotive.

      as i said in my post, i’m on Cindy Gallop’s side – ideas and thinking are a commodity now. you need to deliver on those ideas and, to paraphrase TS Eliot, move from the idea to the reality, transcending the shadow. the rubber has to meet the road. ideally, you have a hybrid of the two but if you can’t, it’s probably best, when build a practice, to start with the doers and then layer in some big thinkers who are less inclined to roll up their sleeves.

  2. Hi Ed,

    Do you think that most businesses have wised up to this distinction between the two and are more focused on hiring doers, or are they still taken in by those who can talk a good game and have lots of Twitter followers and friends on Facebook?

    My second question is: when looking to hire someone to fill a social media position, how important is the individuals identity in social media compared to the brand identities they’ve represented in similiar roles?

    • Ed Lee says:

      Hi morebiggervideo (if that is really your real name),

      I’m not sure if businesses have wised up. I know a lot of senior folk I talk to express their frustration at the number of applicants they have for social media jobs from people who have a high-profile within social media but no real-world experience. but not knowing the businesses or, indeed the applicants, its hard to say.

      i think that the fit between the individual’s personal persona and the brand’s is key – fit beween an employee and the organisation is always important, from both perspectives – and it’s no different in social media.


    • Mark McKay says:

      Thanks for the response Ed. I blame Chrome autofill for the name thing.


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