Why the decline in social media managers is a good thing

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deathsocialmediaAlongside the rapid rise of social media as a cultural phenomenon has been the equally rapid rise of the social media manager.  With many organisations struggling to really grasp the new landscape within which they found themselves, the role of social media manager allowed them to assign the job of ‘being social’ to an individual or a department (usually within marketing).

So I must say, it’s incredibly pleasing to see a new study by recruitment website Indeed.com showing that growth in the number of social media manager roles slowed faster than ever before over the past year.  Now of course, some context is good here, and it has to be said that social media manager jobs still grew by 50% over the past year, so it’s not like the role is going away.

But maybe, just maybe, organisations are beginning to appreciate that being a social business involves everyone.  It requires that everyone gets involved in crafting the strategy for the organisation or in providing input into new products or giving great customer support or providing performance appraisals.

These things all require social skills, but they are all things that we should each be taking on board, wherever we sit within the org chart.

“We are seeing an increased demand for social savvy candidates across the business — from human resources to product to customer service,” Amy Crow, Indeed’s communication director said upon release of the study.

I’ve written previously about the need for employees in a social business to look beyond their job description and look to apply their skills and abilities wherever they’re best suited.

The social media manager role by contrast was created out of the belief that the various social networks and tools on the market were so popular with users that someone had to be employed to do something on them.  Very seldom were these appointments made out of a pressing business need, which is a major reason why so many companies still struggle so much with the ROI of social media.

It seems unlikely that people place telephone or email skills on their CVs now, and there certainly aren’t many jobs dedicated to those tasks.  Rather organisations have grown to appreciate that these technologies are merely tools they can use to do work more effectively, and as such they should be something all employees are skilled in.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that we are at this stage with social yet, but hopefully as each month skips past, we get closer and closer to the very notion of a social business merging into just ‘business’.

12 thoughts on “Why the decline in social media managers is a good thing

  1. Amen, Adi! Yet while I also agree the whole social media aspect should be integrated across the business, I don't feel as strongly about this as I did a year ago, when I would adamantly state that community managers was a temporary position. I think most companies will need a specialist, or someone who understands the new platforms that come up and hold potential, or not, for various departments within the company. And with constant changes occurring to Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, it's hard for anyone to always keep on top, so it's perhaps not a bad thing to have an internal resource, call it a community manager or specialist, that team leaders can refer to. I have seen this implemented in various companies and it seems to work.
    We'll see how things evolve in coming months and year, but I don't believe CM will grow out of fashion, yet perhaps their role will evolve into a more strategic position, rather than merely executing. Time will tell.

    • Yes, good point Frederic. I wonder if the nature of that role will change however, from the very operational focus that such people have today to a more strategic focus whereby they are managing the efforts of people inside and outside the organiastion?

  2. It's undoubtedly the case that social stuff is now the responsibility of more and more people, but I suspect there will still be people for whom it is their principle responsibility. You'll need people to do marketing stuff for instance or community manage internal conversations, even though many people might participate in both.

  3. I'm inclined to think there's still a very long way to go, purely because so few organisations really get that social media can encompass a whole range of things. As long as it remains largely a marketing thing then there will be someone for whom it's their job to do 'social'.

  4. It's kinda what you said the other day about working beyond your job description isn't it and applying your skills wherever they may be of use?

  5. Great perspective. I tend to agree. When social was all the rage early on and nobody knew what they were doing, a number of our clients asked us to manage their accounts. But there are limitations to that – we aren't immersed in their culture, we don't know what's going on from day to day, so we miss a lot of the "social" stuff that would make social really worthwhile. The good news is that someone was monitoring instead of ignoring. So maybe we need to redefine the role to "social media monitors" – basically someone who knows who's interacting and what kind of response are needed. Then it can be up to the company to craft a response. Now we prefer not to fully manage someone else's account but rather to serve as support. There is definitely a set of skills you need to be social online so maybe we need more educators and fewer managers!

  6. Thought provoking article, as usual, Adi. I actually think that having an in-house person to handle social media and SEO are important considerations for any business. I also agree with you that it's hard for them to prove ROI, but because these fields are constantly evolving, you need one person on hand to constantly keep on top of it. In fact, with SEO and social integrating together, it would be good to have one person with both those skill sets.

    • That's the question I guess Gazalla, should that person lead the social efforts of the organisation, or should they actually be doing it all themselves? I see that as a key distinction.

  7. I also think most companies will need a specialist, or someone who understands the new platforms that come up and hold for various departments. But its not the everything, you need a expert who can keep you on top.

  8. Hey Adi,

    Great share I agree and I would think for any businesses venturing into social media that you definitely have to have someone monitoring your accounts. I sometimes wish I had someone helping me with mine but I'm an individual and no one can correspond with my friends and followers quite like I can. But for corporations, this really isn't their area of expertise so having someone take the reins with that I would think would just be a necessity.

    I think that would really be a pretty cool job to have and I'm glad that they're around now. We are definitely moving up.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    ~Adrienne

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