If you are anything like me (young, about to graduate college, ready to have a career instead of a series of go-nowhere jobs) then you are actively looking for a job in your field of choice. In fact, this is my primary objective for the next 6-12 months – to find a PR/Social media specialist position within the fashion or entertainment sectors, preferably based in New York City. We have all heard horror stories about record unemployment and continued lack of job opportunities for young people (see CBS News report – Lack of jobs spawning the “Lost Generation”) so it is no wonder that me and my classmates exhibit some stress when thinking about our next steps after college. Luckily there are new opportunities being created for social media “experts” spanning many different industries.
Social Media Experts/Specialists –
It is clear that social media has become an integral part of our lives on a global scale. Although mostly used casually as a way to connect with friends and acquaintances, more and more businesses have a presence on social networking sites than ever before. They use these sites not only to connect with customers and promote new products/services, but also to field customer complaints and monitor the blogosphere for negative statements about their brand. Using social media adequately can help a business increase brand awareness and many celebrities have discovered this function and used it often, sometimes to their detriment (Ashton Kutcher anyone?). Having an expert manage your company’s online presence helps ensure that the brand is being represented in all relevant arenas and that politically incorrect and other potentially embarrassing statements do not get made.
There is a growing debate online as to whether social media experts are worth employing or not.
Peter Shankman, author of a blog post entitled Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert” on Business insider.com argues that social media experts are just online marketers that do not see the big picture. He claims that most of their job equates to simple common sense and that an integration of traditional marketing methods with social media and word of mouth is the best formula for success in conveying a client’s message. In an interview on techcrunch.com, all around businessman Gary Vaynerchuk opined that “99.5 percent of social media experts are clowns” which obviously created a big stir.
Many bloggers and businessmen came to the social media expert’s defense, extolling the merits of their work. Rand Fishkin, co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz.org shot back with a lengthy blog post detailing the importance of experts as business consultants. According to Fishkin “Facebook has 600 million users; Twitter’s at nearly 200 million; LinkedIn is over 100 million; Blogs have hundreds of millions of readers and tens of millions of publishers; Tumblr alone has 250 million pageviews in a day and Disqus reaches 500 million visitors each month. Social’s driving an increasing proportion of the web’s traffic, conversions and value. How can anyone logically proclaim that experts are worthless?” He also includes a chart that shows the ‘spheres of social media expertise’ further demonstrating the need for staff that understand the many levels of social media/networking. (Click on the chart for a clearer view)
As part of her blog response to Gary Vaynerchuk’s comments entitled Are Social Media “Experts” Worthless, Sonia Simone, co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media, gives her own list of best practices for social media specialists called ‘How to get into the .05%’. Simone suggests that understanding content marketing strategies and direct response copywriting will help differentiate good social media specialists from the rest. Also partnering with others who have the skills that you lack helps create a well-rounded team. As always, being well educated on the newest and most efficient tools and developing specific strategies tailored to the clients needs is key.
I believe that the need for Social media expertise is a great opportunity for young people and college grads with an interest in communication to land a great job. After all, young people like me have been on social networking platforms like Facebook and Myspace for years and are the earliest adopters of new sites/services like these. We follow, and more importantly create, trends and know what is hot before the rest of the population discovers it. HIRE US!!
Check out the links above and be sure to read the comments at the end. People are really passionate about this subject.
- What is your opinion on the Social Media expert influx?
- Do you agree with Gary Vaynerchuk’s opinion that “we are going to live through a devastating social media bubble”?