The Need For the Social Media Manager

Update: Constantin has created a new wiki of Social Media Managers and Strategists at the New PR Wiki.

I stand by my research, personal experience, and industry monitoring that the need for social media managers will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

This post is a direct response, refuting and correcting Steve’s post that the Social Media Manager will go extinct.

While I enjoy Steve’s predictions (as well as a peer) that the Social Media Manager will be extinct, I’m here to respectfully correct him and leaning on my research findings from my recent Forrester report: How to Staff for Social Computing. In fact, we’ve found that there are two roles to be found in corporations serious about online communities.

Steve comes from the PR agency perspective and from his view, this makes sense. Yet, I come from where demand actually happens: in corporate enterprise marketing, where I was a social media manager at Hitachi.

Currently, in large corporations, specialized marketing managers, are found often sorted by industries, but also sorted by mediums and channels. For example, there are corporate marketers that focus on Web Marketing (my background) Advertising, Direct Marketing (email, mail) Search Marketing, Event Marketing, and even Print Marketing.

While I agree that social media skills will eventually become a normal bullet point in nearly every marketing resume in the future, today, and the foreseeable, we’re needed specializing for the following two reasons: 1) The specific duties are foreign to most other marketers 2) Online communities (like the support team) require a dedicated role.

In our recent report, we indicated that there are two distinct roles appearing within corporations, the social media strategist (I gave the example of VP of Social Media, Ed Terpening at Wells Fargo) and the community manager, who is responsible for being an online face to the community (Lionel Menchaca is a great example).

So, until the roles of medium based marketers (like direct marketer, web marketer, event marketer) go extinct or this skillset completely normalizes or the role of communities (another way of saying customers) go by the wayside, we’ll continue to see the growth of these dedicated and specialized roles.

Steve is wise to assert that the blur between social media and traditional media as we know it is correct –from a PR perspective. But when it comes to corporate communities, developing social media programs, these are skills that the majority of traditional marketers have –nor understand.

As an analyst, many of my clients (at Fortune 5000 companies) consult with us for social media guidance, I’m increasingly on more and more concalls where these individuals have a dedicated role in this new medium.

Lastly, to drive my point home, I’ve been publishing a series of blog posts called “On the move” that list out (in groups of 5-6) individuals that have been hired to fulfill this specific job. If you notice, the rate has been increasing, not decreasing over the past weeks. Looking at actual job movements is a more accurate –and telling—way of looking at social media jobs than keywords from a job site.