July 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

Help wanted: visionary marketing directors with Twitter skills

Marketing job hunters seeking new employment opportunities with Top 500 retailers better know how to Tweet. More Top 500 retailers, including Best Buy Co. and Urban Outfitters Inc., are creating a new position: director of social marketing.

Marketing job hunters seeking new employment opportunities with Top 500 retailers better know how to Tweet.

Increasingly, as more Top 500 retailers, including Best Buy Co., No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, and Urban Outfitters Inc. (No. 57), supplement their traditional e-mail, search and affiliate marketing programs with new forms of social media they are creating a new position: director of social marketing.

Best Buy recently advertised an opening for a senior manager, emerging media marketing. In addition to a graduate degree, four years of management experience and two years of mobile or social marketing experience at an outside agency, the job also required applicants to have one year of active blogging expertise and a demonstrated ability to build a Twitter account with at least 250 followers.

To build up social marketing programs at Anthropologie.com, Urban Outfitters is seeking an aggressive marketing executive for its director of social media position. The best applicants will have an undergraduate degree and experience as an active blogger. But more importantly, Urban Outfitters is also looking for aggressive candidates that know how – or can figure out – the best way to build successful marketing programs on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. “You are a digital native. User-generated content, social bookmarking and RSS are a part of your everyday vernacular,” Urban Outfitters says in a job posting on SimplyHired.com “You know the ins and outs of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, but let’s call a spade a spade-you’re dabbling in a few other innovative applications that have yet to hit the big time.”

Today most web retailers rely on pay-per-click advertising, site optimization, e-mail and affiliate marketing to drive traffic and sales. But Top 500 retailers aren’t ignoring social networks. A study of social networking for Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide shows that 56.8% of all retailers, or 284 companies, have a presence on Facebook.com. Research conducted from late 2008 through early April also shows that 207 of Top 500 e-retailers, or 41.4%, have placed a video or are mentioned in one on online video community YouTube.com. A total of 143 Top 500 merchants, or 28.6%, are on MySpace.com and 102 – 20.4% – are linked to followers on Twitter.com.

Most web retailers still see social marketing as a brand-building tool. But the fact that some big chains are now hiring social marketing and media directors is an indicator that they see the medium as a potentially lucrative new business opportunity. Those retailers are hiring talented employees to develop a viable strategy, says Harry Joiner, president of EcommerceRecruiter.com, a web retailing search firm based in Roswell, GA. "How a candidate has impacted traditional metrics like monthly unique visits, average order value and conversion rate still matters to hiring managers,” says Joiner. “But increasingly, hiring managers also want to know if candidates can use social media to provide strategic lift to their multichannel branding efforts. For now, there`s still more heat than light around this issue."

The typical annual salary for a social marketing director at a big Top 500 retailing company can range from $80,000 to $90,000 with the potential for a bonus of up to 20% of the base pay, says Joiner. “These are basically research and development positions because nobody really understands the payoff of social marketing yet,” says Joiner. “But even in a recession, some retailers are funding these jobs now because they want a competitive edge and a viable strategy as social marketing becomes even more mainstream.”

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