Rise of the social media architect: eight jobs you never knew existed

Transport an agency employee or a marketer from before the turn of the century into a similar job today and you can bet a lot of it would seem foreign to them. The use of the word viral, for instance, and why the few people who still leave their desks to take lunch come back after 45 minutes and stone-cold sober.

Many of the new jobs would be unrecognisable too. Few shops or brands had need for a chief growth officer two decades ago, or a chief diversity officer. Asking your time-traveller just to unpack the phrase "social media architect" would be a lost cause.

Rapidly advancing technology, changing social attitudes and the changed economics of marketing have conspired to create new priorities within agencies and brands, and opened up new career paths.

James Swift takes you through some of the most prominent new jobs in the marketing hierarchy, as well as some of the stranger titles that now fly in a professional world less concerned with formality.



Chief diversity officer

The chief diversity officer role is new enough that the first person in the ad industry to hold the position – Interpublic’s Heide Gardner – is still doing it today. Thirteen years after Gardner got her job, the role is enduring its first wobble after Deutsch sacked its CDO earlier this month because the agency did not want one person to absolve everyone else of their responsibility to foster an inclusive atmosphere.

Omnicom’s Tiffany R Warren (the second person in the ad industry to hold the title) has no truck with the view that chief diversity officers are on their way out.

An apparent tipping point in public sentiment has made diversity impossible to ignore as a social issue. That publicly traded companies with a diverse workforce are 70 per cent more like to capture new markets and 45 per cent more likely to improve market share, according to Center For Talent Innovation, also demonstrate diversity’s business case. Indeed, one of Tamara Ingram’s first moves as J Walter Thompson’s global chief executive has been to create a diversity committee (after the incumbent CEO quit amid a harassment lawsuit). It’s a safe bet that the CDO role isn’t disappearing any time soon.

What does a chief diversity officer do?

Warren says: "I report to John Wren [Omnicom’s global chief executive and chairman] and my role is about nurturing talent and creating a culture that’s sustainable for our companies. People leave jobs not because they don’t like their jobs any more but because of other people. Essentially, I’m enhancing Omnicom’s vision to be a world-class company in sustainable diversity. We have CDOs in all of our networks, so I work with network agencies on their initiatives, as well as working with the board of directors."

Executive creative technologist

Grey London’s Perry Nightingale might be the only executive creative technologist in existence – for now. He got the job in 2015 after walking into the agency with "a bag of tricks", as he calls his prototypes.

What does an executive creative technologist do?

Nightingale says: "I produce prototypes for pitches. Essentially, I’m turning people’s ideas into reality – typically in a few days. I’m a software developer and I did that for five years at Dare before I joined Grey. It takes a lot of enthusiasm and also you need to be creative."

Chief growth officer

Time was, growth was a given for almost any competently run business. Not any more. Now, growth must be laboriously mined, precipitating the rise of the chief growth officer. Getting simultaneously gut-punched by declining adspend and undermined by new technology has forced agencies to search out new areas of growth more furiously than other, less-exposed industries and put them at the vanguard of this resurgence.

In fact, agencies have used their product position as a starting point from which to do new things for brands long before the financial meltdown in 2008. Omnicom co-founder Tom Watson was using the title of CGO at least as far back as 2000.

CGOs in FMCG companies first emerged six years ago and have developed into a C-suite role that’s more than just an enhanced chief marketing officer, and is often "a stepping stone" to chief executive, according to Russell Reynolds Associates’ Jo Renea. The CGO combines being an advisor to the CEO with brand-building expertise and the ability to troubleshoot internal conflicting agendas.

What does a chief growth officer do?

Larissa Vince, CGO at Saatchi & Saatchi London, says: "Being in charge of the growth of an agency is not just about new business. You have to try to take a longer-term view – look beyond an individual account or an individual pitch, and try to understand what clients might need in the future. "Add to that the fact that relationships seem to be becoming more – not less – important.

How many account moves have we seen in the last year where an existing relationship has played a big part? "Also, there’s an element of growth across the business into new services.

Clients are genuinely more interested in how we can do more for them than we did in the past, partly because the nature of our creative ideas tend to be broader."

Chief technology officer

Chief technology officers have been around for a while – and their forebears, chief technical officers, even longer. But new technologies now rival storytelling as the lifeblood of marketing departments and ad agencies.

A 2012 Accenture report stated: "Marketing is so inextricably linked to technology that, by 2017, chief marketing officers are projected to spend more on IT and analytics than chief in­formation officers."

What does a chief technology officer do?

Gregory Roekens, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s first CTO, says the job can be fractioned into "one-third of engineering, one-third of visionary outlook to anticipate and prepare for the next big trend, one-third of business and operational acumen, and finally another third of je ne sais quoi that cannot fit into any mathematical equation (clearly); some call it creativity." "Brands are already employing a lot of very smart people who know their internal systems inside out," Roekens adds.

"While their focus is to run and optimise these systems to run their business in the most efficient way possible, they look towards us to make it famous."

Social media architect

Social media architect is the newest title in this list and there are probably lots of people today who would find the job absurd once you explained to them what it was. But with more than two billion people around the world using social media, according to Facebook, it’s no surprise that people are working these sites for commercial gain.

What does a social media architect do?

A spokeswoman for IPG Mediabrands’ Malaysia office – which looks after Malaysia Airlines’ account – describes an SMA as someone who helps brands engage with existing customers or tap into new audiences based on the different social media networks.

"In terms of skillset," she added, "a social architect must be a hybrid talent, combining strategic planning skills, creative flair, content design and planning, client management, campaign conceptualisation and planning, crisis planning and escalation, and analytics and trend understanding."


now for something

completely different…

Chief inspiration officer

Melanie Spring is the founder and chief inspiration officer at Sisarina, a brand strategy agency based in Washington DC.

What does a chief inspiration officer do?

Spring says: "If you’re thinking about things differently than when you first started, then I’m doing my job. Being chief executive is not what I was trying to be. If you don’t have an incredible amount of joy, then you can’t do the job. Also, you have to inspire your self. You have to be able to be someone people look up to that allows people to think outside the box."

Creative evangelist

Simon Gosling was an executive producer at Framestore when he left to join production agency Happy Finish as chief executive in 2013. Since the start of 2016, he has gone by the title of creative evangelist.

What does a creative evangelist do?

Gosling says: "I spread the word of virtual reality, which allows brands to communicate with audiences in ways that they’ve never been able to do before. 

"At Happy Finish, we have business development people who are trying to win VR business and I do that but on a larger scale. I’m looking to win enquires in business but I’m also presenting myself as someone who is inspiring and motivating people now and in the future."

Chief amazement officer

Shep Hyken is chief amazement officer at his own company, Shepard Presentations, which he set up in 1983 to deliver talks on customer service to companies. He has given keynote speeches at conferences for Lexus and IBM, among many others.

What does a chief amazement officer do?

Hyken says: "I run the company, which is built on helping clients create amazing customer
experiences, so that’s where it came from. I started using the title around ten years ago. A title like that doesn’t change a culture, but it adds to it. I’ve always wanted to have fun in my job and I just thought chief executive officer sounded too pretentious."