Five Essential Qualities of a Social Business Champion

January 25, 2013 Comments
Five Essential Qualities of a Social Business Champion

Recently I wrote about the crucial role the Social Business Champion plays in scaling social media, and discussed some of the things that they do. But what kind of person do they have to be?

As ‘Social Business Champion’ is rarely a role in its own right, it does take a particular type of person to relish and succeed at transforming their organisation into a social business.

So what qualities should a Social Business Champion possess?

1. Passionate

Above all, a Social Business Champion needs to have fire in their belly. They should be passionate not only about social media, but its potential to change the way we work, live, play. This should be the driving force behind the many internal conversations the Social Business Champion needs to have across departments and levels of seniority in order to make things happen.

However, as social media is often not even in their job description (to begin with), they often need to make things happen for themselves first to make it happen for the business.

To get things really moving in the organisation, at some stage you’re going to need internal buy-in – people need to trust that your “crazy initiatives” will work. This trust is easier gained if comes from an engaging, compelling individual, with results and experience from their own tests, pilots, experiments behind them.

2. Innovative

Being a Social Business Champion means doing things differently, and the ability to look at existing processes and approaches from a different angle is essential to social business transformation. The best Social Business Champions have an intrapreneurial streak, and relish being on the forefront of change. The foresight and invention these Social Business Champions bring is a key driver of social business in the organisation.

3. Collaborative

Social Business Champions not only bridge the gap between the consumer and brand; they also need to be the bridge between different departments across the organisation. They need to be able to translate and appeal to people with completely different business objectives and languages. Being open to collaboration with such a varied team is what stops social media being dealt with in a silo.

4. Flexible

Social business can’t always move at the pace of the Social Business Champion (and rarely does!). As social business moves instead at the pace of the organisation, it’s important that Social Business Champions are blessed with the qualities of patience and perseverance.

They also need to have the miraculous flexibility to be both a specialist and a generalist. What this means is that they need to be completely passionate and geeky about their own field (social business) as well as possessing enough knowledge and understanding of every other field that social media will touch within the organisation (lots!).

5. Courageous

Finally, a Social Business Champion needs to be completely comfortable in putting themselves out there and entering the unknown. We’re learning all the time, and the best way to learn is by testing things out. This can be really hard to do in a risk-averse organisation, so a Social Business Champion needs to have the courage to take risks, test and learn.

It’s really not easy being a Social Business Champion, and the type of people matching the qualities listed above are pretty hard to find. But they’re also the type of people who’ll get the biggest sense of satisfaction from leading the change and transforming their organisation.

Social Business Champions – I’d love to hear from you. Any other qualities you think should be included in this list?


  • max st john

    Hey Laura, great article – the one big thing that’s missing for me is ‘honest’ or ‘authentic’ (which requires courage, I guess). I think it also depends on what your definition of a social business is – if it’s just one that is more flexible and collaborative because it fully embeds social technologies and their principles, then there are fewer competencies required. If ‘social business’ means a true connection to purpose and meaning, more radical ways of organising and where empowerment really means empowerment – I’d propose that there are a whole new set of deeper leadership qualities needed and a lot more value that can be unlocked. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Laura Dinneen

      Hi Max, thanks very much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. You’re right – ‘honesty and authenticity’ is a biggie! It’s really important for soc biz champs to display this quality so that:

      a) People don’t feel that they’re being sold to

      b) They develop trust and buy-in internally

      c) Champs across the organisation can learn from each other by openly discussing successes and failures (but mainly failures – let’s be honest!!)

      Leadership qualities are certainly a whole different kettle of fish that definitely shouldn’t be ignored (I smell another blog post!). As well as depending on the definition of social business, it also depends on the definition of a social business champion. When I was writing this I saw the social business champion as the operational “do-er” and activator of social business. I guess I’m assuming that these guys already have a connection to purpose and meaning, and have leaders who are also working hard to transform the business from this perspective. But you’ve made me realise that’s a huge assumption to make, and that the role and qualities of the “Social Business Leader” (?) needs a lot of thought too. Huge thanks!

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