The Future Career of the Corporate Social Strategist

Over the past few years, I’ve tracked the emergence, rise, and growth of this new role within corporations. I see some interesting career opportunities for this powerful role within a corporation. First of all, about this role, while we’ve published a detailed research report on their demographics, psychographics, challenges and aspirations, this role is a major influencer within the corporation, and has a small but growing budget, typically stemming under the CMO or head of corporate communications functions.

Without a doubt, this role is in high demand:  few are qualified, those that are are easily found by recruiters and I’ve heard of some positions with a total comp beyond 200k+ in regulated financial services.  I’ve also been tracking how some folks are switching jobs to respond to the demand, although I’ve cautioned a few to put in a few years before doing this, as it could set a bad record on one’s resume.   Despite the intense demand for this role right now, it’s always important to look towards the future on what’s on the horizon for this talented bunch:

Three Future Career Opportunities for the Corporate Social Strategist:

  • Rise into the Head of Customer Experience. That’s right, we’re going to return to customer experience and looking at the entire customer journey (what we call at Altimeter the Dynamic Customer Journey). This role is one of the few in the organization at the business level (not infrastructure or operations) that can span multiple business units and see the entire customer journey from awareness, consideration, purchase, support, and beyond. The opportunity? The Corporate Social Strategist is one of the few that could re-create or lead the customer experience group –or even become a Chief Customer Officer.
  • Foster or Lead a New Role in Content Strategy: Working closely with my colleague Rebecca Lieb, she’s illuminated the path on how a new editorial role is emerging in corporations which we’re calling the “Content Strategist” which is part editor-in-chief, orchestra conductor, and herder of pregnant cats (buy the book Content Marketing to get a headstart in your career). With so many business units adopting social, we’ve found the average enterprise corporation has a whopping 178 social media accounts, the number of opportunities –and risks that come with it– are requiring a company to need a new role to tell a consistent story across all channels, all voices, and all tools, in fact Rebecca tells me “It’s critical to note that while this role certainly encompasses social, its purview goes way beyond it: web sites, white papers, events – content is much broader than just social”
  • Move into Program Coordination –Or Dissolve The Role Competely: Much like the ‘web master’ role if the late 90s has now become a business function or dedicated social or digital strategist, this role knows that if they can get orginization on board to conduct social in a safe and systamatic way, they’re role becomes more of a coordinator. We’ve discussed at length when this role could potentially go away. The opportunity? Help the company norm to social, and eventually move on to the next technology and help the company re-invent and change, just as they likely helped with the adoption of web, and before that digital communications.

Like all change agents in corporations, sometimes called ‘intra-preneurs’ for their willingness to stick their neck out to advance the company, these folks will certainly find new opportunities in business and lead this wave and the next. Don’t expect this group of calculated risk takers to sit still.

Related Resources

  • http://twitter.com/SteveKoss Steve Koss

    Jeremiah,

     

    I was wondering if you can provide answers to:

     

    Do you find that Corporate Social Strategists actually get,
    understand the emotional cycle of people?

     

    Have they charted their own?

     

    Look forward to the responses.

     

    Thanks.

     

    Steve

     

  • http://twitter.com/VinceBerthelot Vincent Berthelot

    I Was a little disapointed to don’t read anything about the digital board, the link between internal & external digital strategy and the way to work with HR, com or marketing to make the 360 digital vision.

  • Matt Gentile

    Great post Jeremiah.

    As the social strategist for Century 21 Real Estate, I direct strategy and implementation from the brand level.  I am fortunate to see the progress that we’ve made as an organization as we drive new media initiatives through the enterprise.

    I believe there are more than three career possibilities for the role.  Specifically, I believe the opportunity to integrate with digital is key and will lead to a role that crosses CRM and Content Strategy with Bus / Dev.  Your recent article, Social Media Agencies Turn to Advertising drives this point home.  I believe there is a huge opportunity for corporate strategists to fill the void between interactive and content strategy that blends the skill sets of PR, digital advertising and Bus/Dev.  

    Understanding how to develop a marketable narrative is more than display advertising. It requires a deeper understanding of the brand value proposition and how to market that proposition via condensed, consumable media nuggets that are consumed and acted upon via the emerging Social Advertising space.  Consumers want more than ads, they want a story to connect with brands.  

    I would argue that no one is better positioned to capitalize on this shift than the current Social Strategist.  Call it VP Social Business Development…yeah…I like the sound of that!

    Keep up the great work.

    Sender – Message – Channel – Receiver (same as it ever was)

    Regards,

    @mattgentile:twitter , Director, PR and Social
    Century 21 Real Estate LLC

  • http://twitter.com/paolojr Paolo Mottola

    I agree with your thoughts, Jeremiah. All three directions dictate that people currently sitting in corporate strategist positions need to plan to evolve their roles — now. With regards to “filling in the gaps” that the other commenters have brought up, I’d argue that we should also consider how agencies and other business disciplines will see the opportunities to fill in the gaps and grow their budgets as well, especially as social marketing skills become more common. I’d always aim to elevate!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Paolo, everyone must constantly plan their career, not just this role.  

    With that said, there’s still a few more years for this role to establish then manage this program. 

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Matt, thanks, it’s great to hear from you.  I agree there’s many routes, as social integrates as a ‘horizontal’ across many business units (CRM and biz dev too)

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Can you explain more Vincent?  I’d like to know more about what you’re seeing.  

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Some of these strategists have ‘socialgraphics’ research done of their customer base to understand where they are on social networks, and how they use it.  They don’t always have psyhographics (what they care about) and rarely have self-identified what they’re going through. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelbyj Kelby Johnson

    Smart assessment of the role of the social strategist. I think the most important evolution pillar  you highlighted is the customer experience role. Knowing how to apply the social lens to listen, understand and craft relevant engagement strategies across the marketing/comms mix is vitally important to brands. I’d also suggest that the role of the analytics teams within organizations and their agencies is also ripe for a growth spurt. afterall we’re all striving for data-driven engagements, right! Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  • http://twitter.com/jowyang Jeremiah Owyang

    Kelby, Thanks.  I’ve seen (and have the data to back it) the first department to deploy in most corporations is Marketing, followed by Customer Service and support.  This is a natural evolution and grows the scope of both Social Strategist and the CMO. 

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/ tacanderson

    Fortunately you have a ton of data in your “on the move” posts. It would be interesting to chart all that data and see the growth over the years as well as the career paths of those you’ve mentioned through their many changes.

  • http://twitter.com/zoros1976 Jani Sjölund

    As always you bring good content and context to social media industry, thank you. 

    I agree that we are seeing a shift towards Customer Experience Program Management for Social Media Strategist, leading the life-cycle management of customer with “walking in the shoes of a customer” but also by creating WOW (Consumer Experience-term) and one example upon combining Customer Experience with Storytelling 

    Consumer Experience aims to lead to further experiences i.e. strengthen the relationship between customer/company and this is where storytelling can help us, because people relate to stories, fire (read get excited i.e. WOW-feeling) at similar experiences and help to remember their experiences.

     
    Storytelling, in Consumer Experience methology, is not a substitute, but a complementary of reaching to consumers and creating a “wonderful consumer experience” by matching our selling process with how consumer approaches and enabling friction-free sharing to social and digital channelsI will with delight follow your insights on this development

  • http://me.h0us3.com/ Louis House

    Excellent post! you got it right between the eyes. A definite shit towards embracing, or rather harnessing those  ”intra-preneurs” is in the works. Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/VSDieguez Vanessa Sain-Dieguez

    Fantastic post Jeremiah. I definitely agree with the customer experience POV. Social media has allowed us to truly see the full customer experience through their viewpoint and understand where overlaps and gaps are. There’s huge potential for the companies that value these insights and apply them appropriately. Their customers will surely thank them. Thanks for a great read!  

  • http://writespeaksell.com/ Jeannette Paladino

    Those of us who are immersed in social media on a daily basis need to understand that even many of the largest companies are struggling with how social media fits into their business model. Don’t think that everyone is “getting it,” as I’ve discovered in conversations with some of the people charged with organizing their company’s digital strategy. Jeremiah, you’re already looking to the day when the social media strategist as a role/title will disappear when some companies aren’t even at the starting gate yet. We don’t even know what to call this function — PR, advertising, sales promotion? I say it falls under the umbrella term “communications.” These old terms don’t work anymore. Social media is just another communications channel.

  • http://brunogebarski.wordpress.com/ Bruno Pierre Gebarski

    Thanks Jeremiah for sharing the veracity of this short article with us: CSS is a responsibility I have been wondering about for quite a while now! May I suggest to add the following overseer tasks’ if I may suggest: the disruptive IT cloud transformation and the full integration of mobile technology and BYOD. Greetings from over the pond Hamburg GER!     

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  • http://www.iMediaAvenue.com/ Michelle Batten

    I would add one more to your list, Jeremiah – I think corporate social strategy lends itself well to a broader Chief Innovation Role. These individuals will have laid the foundation for strong social networks inside and out their organizations, which are the real backbone to successful corporate innovation. I think the other points you made about Customer Experience and Content Strategy would come together well with an innovation mandate.

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