Re: The Future of the Social Media Strategist

I need Mashable like I need air. It is my source for all things social media and technology, and @mashable is probably my most frequent re-tweet on Twitter. And 99% of the time, I agree with what Cashmore and his team says. This morning I found an article that is borderline in that 1% so I thought I would share.

This morning I read the article on Mashable called “The Future of the Social Media Strategist” which stated:

Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst with digital strategy consulting firm Altimeter Group, interviewed 140 enterprise-class social strategists for a report on the “Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist” that hit the web last November. The report found that most interviewees believe that the social strategist role will ‘fade into the background as social technologies become a ubiquitous communication channel among consumers and companies.’

The article suggests that as people in organizations become more accustomed to and understanding of social media for their business, this skill will be absorbed and used by everyone in these organizations, and ‘social media experts’ won’t be needed anymore. Maybe it’s that I am hoping this isn’t true because I want my next job to be in a social media agency, or maybe it’s because I work in a place where many people still don’t understand or use social media. In any event, although I agree that this will probably happen (and should happen) over time, I do not think this will happen any time soon and here are a couple of reasons why.

1. Many people still aren’t on board.
The experts who are quoted are ones who are well-versed in social media and spend much of their time immersed in it – I know because of their titles. There are still many companies who don’t want to embrace it or don’t know anything about it. I don’t know how many business owners I have spoken with who have said “Yeah, I have a Facebook account. Now what?” and this is still happening, and it is 2011. Personally, I don’t think the idea of social media marketing has fully caught on yet. There is a lot of room for growth. Being immersed in social media blinds you to the reality that the majority of our execs are still too stubborn to understand it or think it is more than just a fad. TRUST me, I am on your side.  I would like to believe that one day everyone will be on board. But I currently work in traditional marketing and PR, and having working in traditional PR firms, marketing agencies, and now in a nonprofit in higher ed, I have found it very difficult to still communicate the need to budget time and money for social media strategy under marketing (and my target market is 18-35, go figure!)

2. There is still a need for a consistent voice representing your brand in social media.
First, this is a basic PR principle. Why in a crisis do we assign a spokesperson with one message, even in large companies that have branches all over the country or world? People need to hear one consistent, clear voice or message.  Second, this is a branding principle. You want your messages to be consistent with your brand that you’ve developed over decades. And this kind of management takes a lot of time — and in my opinion warrants a position or team at many organizations. In my opinion, a major problem with social media work being done today is the inconsistency of voice because marketing managers are throwing interns who are in companies for 6-8 weeks into the social media management and not hiring someone full-time to manage it. Call the position what you want, but it is needed today in business and brand management is needed. Social media is just a new way to communicate, it doesn’t change the basic principles that will always apply.

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