Currently social media jobs are quite a rarity – at least in India. Such profiles are primarily in the marketing agencies, from PR to advertising and digital marketing firms to specialty social media firms. However there are indications that social media outsourcing is poised to become big with a lot of third party customer engagement work from the western world being outsourced to India.
But not just third party service providers – a lot of Indian firms – mostly Business to Consumer firms are realising that social media is slowly becoming a key component of their marketing mix and are either creating separate jobs for the same or making it a large part of Digital Marketing profiles.
However in my view, the future is going to be different. Sure specialist social media positions will not go away – however social will become a key component of jobs that interface with the external world. Like recruitment for instance. It will also become a key component of jobs that are internal in nature as slowly organizations leverage social tools internally to connect employees to employees and employees to activities using tools like SocialText, Yammer, Chatter, Telligent, Qontext and Socialcast.
So what parts of the organization apart from Corporate Communications and Marketing will be poised to be impacted :
- Customer Care : As mentioned earlier this is the big growth area and while might be done operationally by third part service providers , the person internally responsible would have to build expertise in social media. In fact for smaller firms competing with larger firms customer care would be marketing and the ability to respond to a customer complaint , as well as acknowledging kudos would become table stakes. The next step would be to empower customers to connect with and solve other customers’ problems. Customer care would be a “social facilitator”
- Product and Service Innovation – This would be in two ways. One would be to actively listen to what prospective and current users are saying about their experiences as well as their needs and use that insight to offer new or improved service or products. The other would be to actively engage users to co-create products and services. See how Philips (my employer) is crowdsourcing new product ideas.
- CSR – An example of how corporate branding and CSR is being linked using “movement marketing” and leveraging social media is Mahindra’s Rise. We’ll see more and more such initiatives and CSR people would need to move away from “funding” to people who focus on inviting others to contribute (money, resources, time and ideas)
- HR – Have already talked about external roles like social recruiting, but HR folks can leverage the concept of listening and inviting feedback by applying the same principles of participation internally to drive employee engagement. Services like Rypple is letting people set “social goals” and invite feedback from peers – changing the very nature of how to drive employee engagement. Rewards and recognition is also poised to become social – backed by data analytics. Some more thoughts here
- Knowledge Management and Learning – The earlier concept of “extracting” knowledge from employees never caught on and nobody willingly added documents to traditional Knowledge Repositories. Erstwhile KM leaders need to facilitate employee to employee knowledge sharing leveraging social principles of gamification and social recognition.
So, forget about becoming a "social media expert". That role is going to be redundant in 3-4 years. Focus on building social skills in a subject/ domain. That would give you a headstart over your peers who only have domain skills. Social media skills are like “public speaking” – it would not be a entry criteria to the future career in the future workplace – but would surely be the criteria for future growth.