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Are Social Media Careers On The Road To Nowhere?

May 7, 2014 10:44:42 AM

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Will social media ever die? What platforms are here to stay? Which ones should we invest time and money into? These are the type of questions pondered everyday by big businesses when considering marketing budgets. It doesn’t help that last year’s big thing ‘Facebook’ is now reporting declines in reach and engagement.

It makes you stop and think? Is social media a viable career? Are you pigeonholing your career by focusing on just social media?

 

In a recent post on Forbes.com, 34-year-old entrepreneur Jason Nazar, shared 20 lessons aimed at today’s generation of 20 year olds. While many of the pointers offered were hard to argue with – “Time is not a limitless commodity” and “Spend 25% less than you earn” for example – one of the tips got us thinking.

Social Media is NOT a Career. These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both. Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue. It’s not an end in itself. I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.”

While it’s true that social media is an increasingly crucial element within any modern marketing effort, his post struck a raw nerve with many readers. Is social media really just a fad? No of course not, even if a platform dies out social communication is so ingrained within our culture that there will always be some form of social media available to us, whether it’s MySpace, Facebook, etc.

In little more than a decade, social media has moved firmly into the mainstream of modern life. The explosive growth of networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat (plus international networks such as China’s Webo or Russia’s Vkontakte) has given rise to a social media industry which directly employs hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people worldwide in a wide variety of specialist roles.

Not that you need to actually work for a social network to have a career in social media. As well as generating an entire sector of associated businesses (for example, social media consultancies, digital marketing agencies, social games developers and social analytics tools such as SocialBro), social media has also been embraced by practically every business or organisation with a message to communicate.

 

Social media as a career is here to stay. In light of these questions we’ve looked into the different careers that are available due to the social media boom and here are some career paths you can take...

 

Software / UX developers

Whether it the Social platforms themselves, the apps and games distributed on social, or the sites that social accounts promote and link to, all these things require software developers to put them together in the first place and to continuous redevelop them in line with user expectations. The vital importance of a good User Experience to the success of such develops means that UX specialist will continue to be in high demand.

 

Social Media SEO Specialists

In order to be visible to potential and current customers, search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists are essential and will continue to be so in the future as the leading search algorithms continue to evolve. Social channels have become a vital component in most organisations SEO strategy and this shows no sign of changing any time soon.

 

Community managers

Having attracted an audience on social media it’s important to ensure that they are engaged and feel part of a community. A social media community manager encourages active engagement, moderates the day-to-day conversations, measures performance using various social media analytics tools and recommends/commissions content in line with user demand.

 

Data Analysts

Social media produces an incredible amount of real time data every second of every day. Until recently the processing power required to successfully analyse this data to discover meaningful trends put such insight beyond the reach of most organisations. Technological developments accompanied by falling computing costs have ushered in an age of Big Data, where data analysts are the gatekeepers to the gold hidden in real-time social signals.

 

Personal Customer Service managers

Social media gives businesses and brands the opportunity to create and maintain a genuine one-to-one relationship with their customers. Of course, actually delivering this in the real world takes time, effort and resources, namely an army of customer service managers skilled in nurturing relationships via social channels. Expect demand for this type of position to grow rapidly over the next few years.

 

Digital Marketers/Media Buyers

Advertising is by far the largest component of the social media industry’s revenue growth. The flexibility, cost-efficiency and effectiveness of social media ads mean that digital marketing agencies will continue to require a high volume of digitally-savvy marketing consultants. Likewise, navigating the complex media buying environment created by social channels will continue to require specialist support.

 

Content creators

In 2014, it is understood that a steady stream of fresh, engaging, timely and relevant content is the lifeblood of social media success, which is great news for creatives of all kinds: writers, designers, artists, musicians and video makers. As new platforms emerge and become popular, new types of creativity will be required, e.g. the short-form videos popular on Vine and Instagram.

Of course, social media is still an evolving industry, so what sort of jobs can we expect the social arena to create in the near future. What about these?

Social Channel Scout – With new social channels emerging every month, who’ll be the person to discover, research and recommend which new social platforms to embrace? The ‘Social Channel Scout’ of course.

Corporate Games Master – With businesses keen to harness the type of engagement created by social games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds, the ‘gamification’ of business processes will require in-house leaders.

Social Media Personal Trainer – Whether your end goal is a new job or a new romance, are your social media profiles fit for purpose? The age of the social media fitness coach is almost upon us!

Perhaps you have some suggestions of your own as to the next big trends in social media careers. If so, we’d love to hear your ideas.

 

Of course, social media has also become firmly embedded into traditional industries including journalism, marketing, HR, TV & film, catering, retail and leisure, making Jason Nazar’s claim that most social media job titles will not exist in five years time unlikely in the extreme.

While it’s obviously possible that the job titles themselves will evolve and adapt, social channels (including those that haven’t even been created yet) will continue to play a significant role in our lives and our futures and support literally millions of careers in the process.

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