The Four Hats Your Social Media Team Should be Wearing

By March 3, 2011Social Media

When someone manages several job responsibilities, we often say that the person “wears a lot of hats.”

When social media became the responsibility of various people within companies, that was a hat that was added, for some, on top of a lot of other, already ill-fitting hats.

The idea, of course, is that we all each only have one head — how many hats can we wear, really?

In an ideal situation, you can parcel some of the social media activities out to several team members. I recommend four roles, contributed to by four individuals. I also strongly recommend cross-training or “switching hats” periodically so that each member of the team is well-versed in all the elements of a good social media plan.

The Four Hats of Social Media

  1. The first is the listening hat — no earflaps on this one. In this role, the team member is responsible for creating, maintaining and monitoring alerts and feeds that capture mention of the business or brand name, industry news and other related content. This person will spend about an hour a day scrolling through a feed reader, flagging mentions to share or follow up and thinking about trends in online conversation.
  2. The second hat is the connecting hat — I like to think of this hat as the sorting hat as in Harry Potter. For some people this role will come naturally; this is often the person who leaps at the chance to go to networking events and as soon as she has business cards, is reaching out to new acquaintances to connect with them and follow up online. This person keeps an eye on the social networks of the leaders in the organization and facilitates and encourages connections among community members.
  3. The third hat is not unlike those crazy things the Queen wears — real conversation starters. This is the engagement hat — and the role of the person wearing this getup is responsible for asking questions, making offers, responding, replying and generally keeping the community conversation rolling. 
  4. The fourth hat I picture as an old newsroom fedora with the press card displayed prominently in the brim. This is the publisher’s hat, the one responsible for gathering or creating content, for taking existing content, breaking it into bite-sized pieces and posting it on the Internet, representing the company, its services and its people.

Clearly smaller businesses or organizations will need to have one or two people wear all four hats — but the good news is that some can easily be worn simultaneously. It’s even possible to wear all four (I do, and man does my head get hot!) It’s important, though, if you do try to segment the activities, that a regular schedule of switching, or covering roles for one another occurs, so the entire team is comprehensively cross-trained.

How does your team manage multiple roles?


  • Jane Kulow says:

    Excellent metaphor, Marijean. This will be especially helpful in explaining the necessary tasks and roles — and the time involved to do it well — for real social engagement. Thank you!

  • Ken Mueller says:

    I love this analogy. We get so caught up in the silos of job descriptions and forget that we all need to wear many hats.

    Now if only I could find one of those crazy hats the Queen wears…

  • Just shared this with the some folks who were asking me about how to balance it all. Thanks as always for the good insights.