On October 1, an article by HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes on Fortune’s website proclaimed “The social media manager is dead. Long live social media.”
Just two days later, PR News’ blog was sharing an infographic about “The Rise of the Social Profession.”
So which is it? Are social media jobs increasing or decreasing?
As with any set of numbers and statistics, it’s all in how you look at it.
With the infographic, data was collected from LinkedIn over several years. Based on that, social media positions have increased on the network by 1,357 percent since 2010.
Holmes’ piece referenced a Quartz story from September 12, which notes job postings that mention social media in their description on the site Indeed gained 89 percent since 2012. While that’s not as much growth and a shorter span of time, both the Indeed data and the LinkedIn data seem to agree that job postings mentioning social media are growing.
So why did Holmes’ proclaim the social media manager dead? Because while social media continues to grow as a desired skill in job postings, it’s not only for postings that have social media in their title. Shel Holtz noted on his Facebook page that several articles have been written over the last couple of months about the decline in social media manager job postings, but that organizations still need someone to coordinate things like tools and governance. This led to a lot of great discussion amongst several “heavy hitters” in the social arena.
I’ve been inclined myself to lean in the same direction as Shel. While I think integration of social media into many different jobs at different levels of an organization is ideal, I’ve also felt that there needed to be some strong leadership – especially in a very large and disperse organization. If everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge.
But, maybe I’m looking at this too hierarchically. Have my many years within the corporate world where, despite goals of meritocracy, titles still carry weight, led me to confuse leadership with organization? Are leaderless teams chaos or true democracy? Does a social media leader within an organization need the title of social media manager to lead?
Some of this line of thinking was spurred by an article in Harvard Business Review titled “When No One’s in Charge,” and the comments on it such as this:
“BUT, of course, leaderless does not mean there is no leadership… rather it means that leadership is distributed or devolved …decades ago i convinced my prime minister to run a leaderless cabinet office… it was a theoretical master-piece for a full 6 months..everyone love it…it worked a treat, well almost…it was fine internally but it was a disaster externally… all the departments around it, which depended on it for direction and control, were hierarchical bureaucracies and they could not work with a free-wheeling policy unit at the core of the government…it was disbanded before it celebrated its first birthday…as with many great ideas it is ‘the unintended consequences’ that accompany their implementation that restricts their success….leaderless entities will become more common in our digital global economy but they will have to be a good fit with their purpose and their environs if they are to survive….”
One line of thinking is that social media is a tool that everyone will use and it will become as ubiquitous as email. I said myself upon my last job change: “Social media won’t be my job title, but it will certainly remain a part of the way I do my job. And that’s exactly the way I think it should be.”
But… even if it is as basic a tool as email or the telephone, within an organization there still remain today departments with people who are responsible for making sure that email and telephones work. Sure every manager must play a role in hiring, managing and sometimes firing employees, but most do so with the guidance of a Human Resources professional.
So while the title of social media manager may be dwindling, and true leaders in social media don’t necessarily have to carry such a title to lead, someone still needs to be tasked with managing the infrastructure.
I wonder what their title will be?