Last week, I published an article on LinkedIn about the evolution of the social media manager role.
The inspiration for the post was another LinkedIn article—one that was published by Hootsuite Founder Ryan Holmes:
Last year, Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes proclaimed the role of social media manager dead. He cited a study that found that the growth in positions with the title “social media manager” has slowed down by 50% between 2012 and 2013.
While people have generally agreed with my points, some thought that my claim that the role of social media manager is dying is problematic.
And they do have a point. For instance, take this insightful comment from Moe Rubenzahl, a marketing consultant from San Francisco:
Gahh! I hate sloppy logic and modern marketers should know better. Growth that has slowed down is still growth. Just not as fast. The role of social media manager is not in imminent danger of obsolescence.
That aside, the advice is still good: “I have to evolve from a social media specialist to a marketing leader.” But it’s not unique to social.
I’d expand that advice: “I have to evolve from a specialist to a marketing leader.”
Wen Minkoff, a marketing director also from San Francisco, agreed with Moe:
I think one reason for the “decline” (which really isn’t a decline at all, but rather a slowing of growth from 100% growth to 50% growth) is that it was a new role; as companies large and small added these positions to their marketing teams, we saw a large number of opportunities with that title become available. If you click through above, you’ll see that the supporting article states, “Overall, jobs with social media in the title grew by 50% over the last year, a much slower rate than in the recent past. Meanwhile, jobs that mention social media in the description but not the title gained 89%, according to Indeed, the big jobs site. The data covers jobs listed from end of August 2012 to end of August 2013.” That doesn’t sound like a death knell – there was 50% growth, and that skill set was integrated into general marketing job descriptions at a much higher rate as well (89% growth). I like those odds.
What these comments highlighted for me is the fact that I’m not immune to salacious headlines—especially ones that are backed by data. In fact, re-reading the original Quartz article that Ryan linked to, I’ve noticed this bit:
The biggest gain within social media jobs: “social media expert”—yes that’s really a title—which Indeed says experienced a 1,600% growth in the last year. Many of the jobs show up on staffing sites or oDesk, or are found at auto dealers and direct marketing firms.
So really, the point is that social media management roles are still growing—but they’re not growing at the same rate as they were a couple of years ago. That’s a very important nuance that, I must admit, I didn’t really consider when writing the post.
This is somewhat of a good news for someone like me who enjoys my role in social media. But most of my tips on my LinkedIn post still apply. If we want to move up the corporate ladder, we still need to evolve as social media managers. Very few companies have roles such as VP of Social Media or Chief Social Officer. For many companies, social media manager is as far as you can take your role.
Becoming a marketing leader requires acquiring new skills that are outside of (but complementary to) social media. That’s really the reason why social media managers need to evolve.
What do you think? Is the social media manager a dying breed? Let me know in the comments.