Social Media Jobs Outlook

I woke up thinking about the future of jobs in social media, and I have some thoughts on the matter. I’m not an expert in these matters, and this is coming all from observation and anecdotal gathering of information, and not from stats. All that said, I think things will be interesting in the next few years.

Self and Entrepreneur Level Work – I think people doing social media for their own projects will continue growing. Same with entrepreneurial social media (meaning as part of something else). People making projects that make them money will continue to use social media to produce these projects. Also, people who are using social media just for fun will continue to grow (but also shift away from those avenues that take time and effort to create).

Small Business Social Media – I believe the biggest growth potential for social media is in small business, but it will be had through a shift out of consulting/education and into service products. In other words, small business owners will pay people for the benefits granted from social media. For instance, a small chain of restaurants might pay for someone to build them a campaign manager for Foursquare, and/or perhaps a managed Facebook presence. I think it’ll be less about the small business people wanting to engage themselves (in the majority) and more about them wanting services that emulate those results.

Midsized and Large Business Social Media – Here’s where the biggest changes happen. I think that smaller social media consulting opportunities will dry up fast over the rest of 2011 and into 2012. I think that existing agencies have enough of the DNA figured out, and that they’ve hired in enough of the rockstar players from 2008 and 2009, so that the little guys courting the big guys is going to be a much harder sell. I think that as businesses (especially B2C) all pursue “influencers” and try to better understand what that will really do (and not do) for their businesses), that we’ll see a push even further into sexy data, into using the marketing data that unstructured data gathering has brought to us all, and that analytics tools and people who know how to drive them will be the next sexy thing.

I Could Be Wrong

I could be wrong, but that’s the sounds I hear from my travels and conversations with the industry. You’re still finding plenty of people interested in what you’re talking about, and you’re still finding smaller contracts all around, but I think that some of the biggest movements in these areas has happened, and that what’s left is primarily the straggler opportunities, at least insofar as how we’ve been practicing social media to date.

I’m looking out into the future to see where I’m going to fit and how I can best help people. This information above is what I see.

Now, could you go and do it a totally different way? Hell yes. And I hope that you do.

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • http://amandamagee.com amandamagee

    The approach of “I’m looking out into the future to see where I’m going to fit and how I can best help people,” is where it’s at! The rapid evolution of the tools and the hunger demand that we anticipate where we fit, because what you dish out today will have to be force-fed 6 months from now and that doesn’t do a client, consultant or company any good.

  • http://amandamagee.com amandamagee

    The approach of “I’m looking out into the future to see where I’m going to fit and how I can best help people,” is where it’s at! The rapid evolution of the tools and the hunger demand that we anticipate where we fit, because what you dish out today will have to be force-fed 6 months from now and that doesn’t do a client, consultant or company any good.

  • http://www.joshuagarity.com/ Joshua Garity

    Interesting take on the Social landscape. I agree that larger companies, and sometimes even small, locally owned shops, will continue to learn what it takes to be successful via Social Media. It’s not rocket science. It’s about building relationships. Just like in your brick and mortar establishments. But it gives you a wider net to listen to and engage.

    Consultants will truly need to be a thought leader, or valid influencer, to garner the paycheck that it takes to navigate an adequate Social Media campaign from start to finish. Everyone today is a self titled “guru” without the true experience it takes to be respected. And companies are becoming privvy to this. Thankfully.

  • http://www.joshuagarity.com/ Joshua Garity

    Interesting take on the Social landscape. I agree that larger companies, and sometimes even small, locally owned shops, will continue to learn what it takes to be successful via Social Media. It’s not rocket science. It’s about building relationships. Just like in your brick and mortar establishments. But it gives you a wider net to listen to and engage.

    Consultants will truly need to be a thought leader, or valid influencer, to garner the paycheck that it takes to navigate an adequate Social Media campaign from start to finish. Everyone today is a self titled “guru” without the true experience it takes to be respected. And companies are becoming privvy to this. Thankfully.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    i think it is interesting to see as well people who are looking for others to do it for them first so then they can go out and do it themselves. Almost like looking for permission from others to be successful.

    I am working with bands and management companies and all of them want to know who has done it well and been successful? I simply say, very few. In response they say they need more time to see if it would work out. I think they are missing out on a huge opportunity to be there first and set the market instead of letting the market define what they do.

    But I always appreciate your thoughts on this stuff Chris. Thanks

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    i think it is interesting to see as well people who are looking for others to do it for them first so then they can go out and do it themselves. Almost like looking for permission from others to be successful.

    I am working with bands and management companies and all of them want to know who has done it well and been successful? I simply say, very few. In response they say they need more time to see if it would work out. I think they are missing out on a huge opportunity to be there first and set the market instead of letting the market define what they do.

    But I always appreciate your thoughts on this stuff Chris. Thanks

  • http://www.themurr.com/ David Murray

    I would add the the future of social media jobs will include education. I’ve recently been speaking to audiences mostly made up of soon to be communication/PR graduates. Most of the feedback I receive is that what they are learning in their courses is irrelevant and out of date. There are few resources and educators who know how to effectively teach social media ethics and methodologies. Most, if not all, focus on tactics and tools. This is what students tell me anyway.

  • http://www.themurr.com/ David Murray

    I would add the the future of social media jobs will include education. I’ve recently been speaking to audiences mostly made up of soon to be communication/PR graduates. Most of the feedback I receive is that what they are learning in their courses is irrelevant and out of date. There are few resources and educators who know how to effectively teach social media ethics and methodologies. Most, if not all, focus on tactics and tools. This is what students tell me anyway.

    • http://mandeewidrick.com Mandee Widrick

      I do believe you raise a valid point, Dave. As an owner of a social media consulting biz myself, having spoken at colleges and planning to have students interning with me this summer, I see the hunger for it in the schools. College students are very interested in making social media a big part of their career.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Chris,

    That’s a good list of opportunities. I especially agree with analytics being the next big thing. Most of my conversations with clients and prospects are all about the numbers.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Chris,

    That’s a good list of opportunities. I especially agree with analytics being the next big thing. Most of my conversations with clients and prospects are all about the numbers.

  • http://www.mediapizzabox.com Drew

    With regards to small business, I think you’re right about the next couple of years, but only the next couple of years.

    As older small business owners retire and/or hand over the reigns to younger management, who will already be actively engaged in social media on some level, you’ll see more of a trend towards those small businesses acting like people online.

    I know that in my business, local advertising, the line between older and younger small business owners is even more distinct that you’d think. It’s like talking to two different worlds that are going on at the same time.

  • http://www.mediapizzabox.com Drew

    With regards to small business, I think you’re right about the next couple of years, but only the next couple of years.

    As older small business owners retire and/or hand over the reigns to younger management, who will already be actively engaged in social media on some level, you’ll see more of a trend towards those small businesses acting like people online.

    I know that in my business, local advertising, the line between older and younger small business owners is even more distinct that you’d think. It’s like talking to two different worlds that are going on at the same time.

  • http://www.mediapizzabox.com Drew

    With regards to small business, I think you’re right about the next couple of years, but only the next couple of years.

    As older small business owners retire and/or hand over the reigns to younger management, who will already be actively engaged in social media on some level, you’ll see more of a trend towards those small businesses acting like people online.

    I know that in my business, local advertising, the line between older and younger small business owners is even more distinct that you’d think. It’s like talking to two different worlds that are going on at the same time.

  • http://www.mediapizzabox.com Drew

    With regards to small business, I think you’re right about the next couple of years, but only the next couple of years.

    As older small business owners retire and/or hand over the reigns to younger management, who will already be actively engaged in social media on some level, you’ll see more of a trend towards those small businesses acting like people online.

    I know that in my business, local advertising, the line between older and younger small business owners is even more distinct that you’d think. It’s like talking to two different worlds that are going on at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/Michael_Mekler San Diego Mortgages

    Hello Chris,
    I had a similar thought yesterday. My challenge to this growth is that as more medium to large corporations decide to jump into the social media arena, and they employ social media entrepreneurs, how would these entrepreneurs translate their followings or their audience into the company they want to work for? Most companies that are new to social media expect, in some cases, immediate ROIs. If you have established an organic growth on twitter, for example, you are destitute to create a new twitter account and start all over. Is there and easier way?

    • http://kevinekmark.com/blog Kevin Ekmark

      I love with Beth Harte has to say about Social Media and ROIs… I think that perhaps helping a company remold what social media is as a whole could help you do things organically, and help build/manage a brand the right way.

  • http://www.dogwalkblog.com/ Rufus Dogg

    You are dead on accurate with the caveat 90% of LOCAL small business will still not care about social media. They will stick to “answering phones, making pizza.” (would link to the post that explains, but that spam control-moderated-stuff is too tedious. Not complaining…)

  • http://twitter.com/derekbarney Derek Barney

    I think you will see more unique and creative development on top of the platforms.

  • http://twitter.com/derekbarney Derek Barney

    I think you will see more unique and creative development on top of the platforms.

  • http://twitter.com/derekbarney Derek Barney

    I think you will see more unique and creative development on top of the platforms.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    I can’t speak to your first two points but to your third point I think you’re spot on and is something that started happening last year but you’re right in that the effect will really be felt this year.

  • http://twitter.com/Vicki_Kunkel Vicki Kunkel

    As always, Chris, a very insightful post! I think you are right on target with your assessments/predictions–especially on the small business front.

    One growth area I see (especially for programmers) is to create in-house, proprietary social media platforms. For example, one of my high-tech energy clients recently started a proprietary, in-house service for their employees where they can “check in” via a platform similar to Foursquare when they go to the lab, or attend a special innovation meeting, or attend a retirement party, or welcome a new employee. (One recent post: Just checked in at John W____’s cube in Communications. Come welcome the new dude with the funky hair on the 4th floor!) They then follow up with posts on their in-house “Facebook” with pics, videos, and comments about the meetings.

    So, although the focus on such in-house platforms isn’t monetization, but rather productivity and collaboration, I definitely see this as a growth area, too.

  • http://twitter.com/TranqJones Tranq Jones

    Your 2nd point I think is spot on. Many small businesses have difficulty even learning social media engagement through a consultant–enough to consistently execute. It’s outside their normal realm of expertise and even with education, it’s still hard to master. I can definitely see small businesses paying for a managed presence (if it’s affordable.)

  • http://twitter.com/TranqJones Tranq Jones

    Your 2nd point I think is spot on. Many small businesses have difficulty even learning social media engagement through a consultant–enough to consistently execute. It’s outside their normal realm of expertise and even with education, it’s still hard to master. I can definitely see small businesses paying for a managed presence (if it’s affordable.)

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Shoot, I woke up thinking about breakfast.

    Of course, I have to interject that what I am really hoping is that Social Media will evolve into something that can be considered another tool in the toolbox rather than a be-all, end-all. I am hopeful that in the coming months and years, people will begin to reflect on how to enhance their Social Media marketing/services/products by pulling on older methodologies while keeping the new.

    For example, how could a company go to a trade show and tie that in to their Facebook page? How could a restaurant tie Foursquare into an ad campaign? I’m not seeing a whole lot of action in the hybrid space as of yet (although some companies are going there), but there is a whole universe of innovation yet to be explored there. I think everything is up for redefining – an ad may not really be an ad, but rather a bridge to a series of videos. A press release may not really be a press release so much as an invite into a super cool, interactive portion of your website.

    And maybe, and this is the really exciting type of thing I think about – maybe Social Media could be a pathway to an ad in the not too distant future.

    Everything is up for grabs.

    Thanks for sharing, Chris. As always :)

  • Dasnyder1

    How do you think undergrad and grad school curriculum will evolve around the duties required by social media practitioners, and do you think that over the course of the next few years we will see a more tailored educational path for students interested in those tools??

    Thanks for the post Chris!

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    I agree with you and Marjorie, the above list covers the future based on *how we use social media now*…but we’re not near using it for the potential it truly has. There’s a lot of looking to the right and left, checking out how others are making it work for them, leaving lots of creative ways to rock the socks off of consumers and profits unexplored. I know this is hard stuff to sell, but once everyone is doing the same thing, it just devolves into noise that no one notices, which is why late adopters get easily frustrated. They’re often right that no one is really listening to them. Their ears are elsewhere. The job I want in the future is to work with/for someone who’s willing to take social media somewhere new and profit.

  • http://www.wevival.com Jason Stambaugh

    I work with small businesses in the social web space. You are spot on. They are going to continue to need help in the coming years with more than just building a fan page. From my perspective, they need a lot of coaching and training to bake social media and tools into their existing workflows and marketing plans. For many small businesses, social media is going to be their primary marketing focus.

  • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

    I’m personally hoping to enter the world of small business social media management (focusing on church and para-church organizations) in the next few months. Glad to see that this looks to be a growing field!

  • http://twitter.com/jnoche John Knight

    I agree for the most part. I think small biz will get better at spotting the “snake oil sellers” and really look at what the professional had done in the past (real results). I think that is what is putting a small damper on some things moving forward. Talk is great, but execution is golden. Just my thoughts…love your stuff man…

  • http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-qa-matchmaker-amy-laurent-on-starting-her-on-biz-and-helping-folks-find/ Amy Laurent

    The job I want in the future is to work with/for someone who’s willing to take social media somewhere new, measure process/outcomes and profit.

  • http://bizzbeginnings.com Sean Sweeney

    Personally, I agree with what you have said but I feel it is going to be a longer process than a couple of years where Small Businesses are concerned.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XSYW2CH4K77CES4EGLGUUN42ZQ PeterM

    These predictions are spot on. Being a Social Media Strategist myself, I can say that there are A LOT of SMBs that need help with social media. I have been working with a few and they have told me that they can think of 5 other SMBs that could benefit from social media. Obviously, this is great for me because I will have more opportunities to help SMBs. It is also great for the social media universe because more businesses and people online means more possibilities.

  • Stacey Battenberg

    I completely agree with your insight about small businesses. My dad is a small business owner and is just starting to realize the importance of social media marketing. I have been trying to help him use Facebook to drive traffic to his website, which I have learned is a key function for virtually all forms of social media.

    -Stacey Battenberg, PR undergraduate student

  • http://joshmuirhead.ca Josh Muirhead

    Chris Brogan, I feel you hit the nail on the head with this one – and I’m not just saying that to be nice.

    However, one area that I personally feel might have been missed, and could be a huge potential are businesses offer social media within targeted industries. Currently, most people attack Social Media Business with a big brush. They offer their services to all who wish to pay them. I feel this is going to change dramatically, to people offering their services to only select target markets.

    Why? Because to carry on a great conversation, or to build relationships and all the other stuff that is supposed to happen with social media, you also need to know what it is you’re talking about. For me personally, I can’t talk about the Financial industry much better than the next guy. But I can talk Tourism, College/University systems, or Events with easy. I know where these people hang out, and I can carry on a conversation with them.

    As the need for sexy data grows, we’ll also see a need for people who know what they hell they talking about (not from a social media perspective, but from their clients perspective) grow as well.

    Excellent post

    Josh

    • http://www.americansahara.com/about/ J Brandon

      Josh makes a key point.

      Social media is just one of our tools for telling a story to influence behavior. Those who are very comfortable and knowledgeable in a particular segment will be able to offer substantial value. We can let our clients focus on their core strengths while we help them talk with their customers in the language they understand.

      I work with companies in the outdoor recreation and adventure travel segments. I choose that area because I have extensive, on the ground experience. I’m not a PR guy trying to talk about outdoor equipment. I’m an enthusiast who also knows how to use social media. That is something a client can understand.

      Social media is following a similar trajectory to the early days of the web. In the late 90s, companies knew they had to get on the web or get left behind. They hired people who called themselves “webmasters,” although no one knew what that really meant. Just a few years later it was obvious that having a sexy website was worthless if you didn’t have a great story to tell. So the web industry fell apart.

      I think a similar thing will happen in the social media industry.As soon as the clients, and their customers, figure out that Facebook and Twitter are not magic bullets the weakest players will begin to fade away. Eventually, those who can tell a good story and influence behavior will remain. They’ll use social media; but they won’t pitch themselves as masters of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reputationmanagers Reputation Managers

    This is great for me because I will have more opportunities to help SMBs. It is also great for the social media universe because more businesses and people online means more possibilities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reputationmanagers Reputation Managers

    This is great for me because I will have more opportunities to help SMBs. It is also great for the social media universe because more businesses and people online means more possibilities.

  • http://flatratebiz.com Genuine Chris Johnson

    Service products. That’s exactly what we’ve been building at FlatRateBiz. Great phrase. “What to do + doing it for you + holding you acountable” = win for the customers.

    I don’t think that the opportunities are dry though- for “social mediocrities” they are, but for people that have something to give, a service to render, true insight, and helpfullness, then things are just beginning.

  • http://flatratebiz.com Genuine Chris Johnson

    Service products. That’s exactly what we’ve been building at FlatRateBiz. Great phrase. “What to do + doing it for you + holding you acountable” = win for the customers.

    I don’t think that the opportunities are dry though- for “social mediocrities” they are, but for people that have something to give, a service to render, true insight, and helpfullness, then things are just beginning.

  • http://ajleon.me ajleon

    Totally agree. I think that your second point is where people should pay particular attention. Developing and publishing information products that empower small business (or non-profits) for that matter) is a huge opportunity. Melissa and I have started making this shift over a year ago, and its really paid off for us. :)

  • http://twitter.com/mktgcopywriter Debra Jason

    Chris, good points across the board. I’m finding that small businesses are still trying to “wrap their arms” around social media and what it entails. Many of them say “social media,” when what they’re really referring to is social networking – basically Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter. I’m offering an introductory course next month and have had calls from folks saying they have a Fan Page, but don’t really know what to do with it or they have a Twitter account but didn’t know how to reply to someone’s Tweet.

    So there are those who still need basics. As you said, I think the “big boys” may already have social media managers or social ambassadors in place, but I have heard of one here & there that are still trying to “wrap their arms” around it.
    Thanks as always for your comments on the subject. Have a great day :)

  • http://kirantarun.com/blog Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    I think social media would make a difference in small businesses.

  • http://kirantarun.com/blog Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    I think social media would make a difference in small businesses.

  • http://twitter.com/Verilliance Verilliance

    Hmmm, interesting.

    One area of potential growth I foresee is the “on-call” consultant who helps guide businesses through social media/PR crises as well as consulting as-needed on various proposed campaigns.

    Additionally, someone in comments mentioned the divide between older business owners and younger ones, and I think the older generation of business owners are those most likely to pay for a social media presence, but not without seeing some numbers first.

    I also hope to see a trend toward social media being absorbed into overall company marketing culture. In other words, rather than it being a distinct silo, that there is more fluid integration between PR/marketing/advertising/social media/customer service. All one voice, just different channels. If anything will move this trend forward, it WILL be social media. Why? Because social media has allowed the consumer to talk back and talk to each other. Companies are quickly learning how important a unified message is, and it has to start with the inner culture.

    Finally, I agree that analytics will be the next sexy thing as the industry matures. Now that businesses have seen “followers” don’t always equal sales, they’ll push harder for hard data and strategies that drive towards specific goals.

  • Barbara

    II work with start-UPS and small established businesses who have been leading the way with social media. I have a client who joined Facebook in January and now has a thriving business. All of her orders come through Facebook.(0;

  • Barbara

    I tend to act as a facilitator. I show clients how to use social media tools and putting together a plan to get the most out of it. For me the toughest bit is staying ahead and advising of the best tools. Speaking of which have you any experience of xing?

  • Barbara

    I tend to act as a facilitator. I show clients how to use social media tools and putting together a plan to get the most out of it. For me the toughest bit is staying ahead and advising of the best tools. Speaking of which have you any experience of xing?

  • http://www.youintegrate.com Kneale Mann

    Thanks for the happy news.

  • http://kirktaylor.com Kirk Taylor

    Before I say anything, I’m not an expert on social media. I’m an entrepreneur who is used to cutting deals as the “little guy” with the billion dollar companies. I’ve always done it by having a product that is superior to what anyone else has to offer and I get the job done.

    The industry is moving towards people who can show they can put up the goods. I’m not convinced that the big marketing firms are able to put up the goods yet. The industry is moving too fast and I just don’t see them being fluid enough. They’re coming, but still have a long way to go.

    To me, this is perfect timing for someone who does as opposed to talks. If you have the goods, and you can demonstrate, the sky is the limit. If you have to BS your way through, time is running out, you’re almost finished.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Me thinks you are right.

  • http://twitter.com/tracysestili Tracy Sestili

    I think you’re wrong to predict that so soon and part of my argument is similar to Barbara’s below in that the social landscape is changing weekly, and to keep up with that is the trend. That’s not going to change. With digital marketing, we had email, digital ad space, Google Adwords. That was it. Social media is a bit of a different animal. I think you’re on to something, but it will be more than next year, I am thinking more like 4 or 5 years from now.