According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, more than 50% of consumers now use Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media tools such as to contact companies with questions or complaints. Yet, according to Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, the Social Media jobs market has undergone a marked decline behind which the slowdown ‘in Social Media managers is a sea change in the way that Social Media itself is used within organisations’.
The paradox however is that integrating Social Media in the workplace is hampered by a skills shortage. Social Media as a phenomenon and marketing skill hasn’t been around long enough for that. In other words, the demand for Social Media managers is there but as part of another role for which there aren’t yet many candidates. Companies more and more are expecting job applicants to already possess the skills, perhaps because of a misconception of how Social Media is and/or should be used for business. Whilst I have always been an advocate of the premise that websites are about a business and Social Media gives you an insight into the people behind the business, there’s a big difference between being a regular user of Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, and using language and vocabulary effectively to communicate your business’ marketing messages and brand awareness through a Facebook Business Page, for example.
“The notion of a single person who spends their entire day on Twitter creating hashtags is dead”, says GigaOM. Being social is “part of everyone’s jot, or soon will be”. So much so that it could almost be seen as the people’s platform in that Twitter, Facebook and the like are no longer the almost exclusive domain of online pundits, rather they are gradually becoming everybody’s responsibility.
One could argue the positives of this, in that it means organisations are finally seeing the integral role Social Media plays in an organisation’s overarching communications and marketing strategy rather than an obligatory annoyance that gets in the way of the day job but which they either haven’t got the funds to finance somebody else’s management of or they lack the time and inclination and instead offer a lacklustre and ill-thought out series of messages and communication to their followers. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review survey revealed that just 12% of companies using Social Media felt that they actually use it effectively *.
This is why, if are considering your business’ Social Media in-house, is to source the right training provider. And it may not be as simple as just hiring a specialist who is ‘good at Social Media’ or seeing one or more of your employees on a workshops in how to use Social media, but perhaps thinking about engaging with a niche specialist. Somebody who say, specialises in Social Media for accountants or solicitors if that’s what your business is, who has the testimonials and the case studies to back up this specialism. Using Social Media does not equate to using it well.
This can however be attributed to what I like to term the problem with Social Media being Social Media. In that it is an umbrella term many feel is not attributable to their line of work, i.e. the words Social Media are for them not synonymous with business. People like to put labels on things and perhaps a rethink of the job description ‘Social Media manager’ is also now necessary to ensure that whilst the role itself remains of paramount importance and vital to many businesses, it does not become obsolete or extinct because the terminology has got lost in translation.
Katherine Hanson is Owner & Managing Director of Soci@lite who provide Social Media Management & Training solutions for businesses.
- 3 Tips for Remote Social Media Managers (socialmediaclub.org)
- Ryan Holmes: The Social Media Manager is Dead. Long live Social Media (fortune.cnn)
- Infographic: The Social Media Facts of 2013 (mobilemarketingwatch.com)
- NO Social Media? (q104.cbslocal.com)
- HootSuite job fair attracts hundreds of Vancouver hopefuls (theprovince.com)