Using MBTI® to Build Effective Social Media Teams

by Mark Smiciklas |

As social media starts to weave itself into the fiber of corporate culture, companies are beginning to recognize the need to make organizational changes in order to evolve as social businesses. One area where this is gaining importance is Human Resources. The emergence of new social media roles and how they are integrated into the structure of an organization can have a huge impact on the success of social business initiatives.

As businesses begin to experiment with assembling social media teams some will leverage existing employees, using a corner of the desk approach to gradually embed learning and build capacity, while others will look to hire new staff. Either way, how do you know which employees are best suited for these new roles?

It would seem logical to attach social media responsibilities to existing departments i.e. Marketing, Communication, Web Team, etc. But is this silo approach the most effective? It might make more sense to organize social media teams based on employee personality and the nature of the role vs. physical location or departmental boundaries.

One tool that could be helpful in maximizing human resources potential around social media is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). The MBTI categorizes personality preferences across four primary activities, providing an effective method for understanding people and the way they behave. Here are the basic characteristics of the four areas (and the letter used to define each behaviour preference):

Energizing – How a person gets energized or re-energized.

  • Extraversion (E) – Prefer to get their energy from spending time with people and doing things.
  • Introversion (I) – Prefer to get their energy from spending time alone and reflecting on ideas.

Perceiving – How a person processes information.

  • Sensing (S) – Trust tangible, fact based information that can be processed using the 5 senses. They like to work within actual here and now scenarios.
  • Intuition (N) – Comfortable with intangible, theoretical information that is more abstract and processed through thought and tend to trust insight/intuition. They like to think of the future possibilities.

Deciding – How a person makes decisions.

  • Thinking (T) – Tend to make decisions in an objective manner based on reason, logic and rules.
  • Feeling (F) – Tend to make decisions in a more subjective way based on empathy and consensus.

Living – The lifestyle a person adopts.

  • Judging (J) – Prefer a lifestyle that is planned.
  • Perceiving (P) – Prefer a lifestyle that is spontaneous.

By combining one preference from each of the above you arrive at an individual “type” (for example, my type is ENFP) – there are a total of 16 MBTI types. For the purpose of this post let’s take a high level look at how this could be implemented using the main MBTI quadrants. Introduction to Type® in Organizations by Sandra Krebs Hirsh and Jean M. Kummerow explains the four quadrants as follows:

“One combination often used to describe personality type relates to the quadrants of the type table. These quadrants combine the energizing preferences (E-I) and the perceiving preferences (S-N) and result in IS, ES, IN and EN quadrants. The quadrants are often used to describe leadership, learning, and work styles as well as corporate culture and ways of handling change.”

By connecting employee MBTI personality preferences to responsibilities you get a better understanding of which employees across the organization might be best suited for specific social media tasks. Here is an example that maps characteristics from the four quadrants mentioned above to emerging social media roles (as highlighted by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund in the Now Revolution):

MBTI Benefits

Using MBTI during the social media team building process allows organizations to:

  1. Identify different employee strengths
  2. Help employees develop their careers within the organization
  3. Build more effective teams by matching roles to the most suitable employees
  4. Increase employee retention and reduce costs related to turnover

What are your experiences with MBTI in an organizational setting? Do you think it would be useful in helping build more effective social media teams? The comments are yours.

About the Author

Mark Smiciklas

Mark Smiciklas is a Digital Strategist, author and President of Intersection Consulting; a Vancouver based digital marketing agency that teaches organizations how to leverage the dynamics of the web to achieve business goals. Mark is also the managing editor at and is an established marketing and social media practitioner recognized for his visual thinking and practical strategic approach. You can connect with him on Google+.