Social Media Jobs: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t, Now You Do

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.”

Infographic: 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?

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Create Your Free Infographic Resume

Last July, I wrote about how I’ve been waiting since April 2011 for Visual.ly to provide me the ability to create cool infographics with little to no graphic design skills – and for free. Because I’m cheap budget-constrained.

Today, I finally got my wish!

I’d seen some email notices from them about their Marketplace where you can locate people you could pay to design infographics for you; but, if they told me before today that there were free plug-and-play ones out there, I missed it. That whole inbox zero thing never really worked for me.

Today, however, I actually opened the email from them and read “Check out our Visual Resume data visualization tool!” Which I did because that sounded like a cool addition to the visual CV/portfolio that I created on Pinterest.

Turns out this is one of handful of co-branded infographic templates now available on the site. Most are what I’d classify as just-for-fun like one tied to my Facebook stats and the Sherlock Holmes TV series called “Elementary.”  But, some more useful ones allow you to create a Venn Diagram (might try that one to update my Enjoli Woman post) or a visualization of Facebook Page statistics.

Then there is the newest one for creating a visual resume. You just choose one of their templates – sponsored by Kelly — then log in with your LinkedIn account and boom! There are currently five styles to choose from, but hopefully there will be more in the future because I was almost tempted not to share these for fear everyone would start to have one like mine. <wink>

create infographics with visual.ly

The Press Release: Zombie Apocalypse Proof

Has it already been six years since Tom Foremski’s “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!” rant made such noise? And yet, the press release is still not dead. Perhaps it has moved to the realm of the undead.

And while zombies are quite popular these days, the press release is still not without its haters. I, myself, don’t exactly hate it, but I have come to ponder if public relations professionals should just walk away from it.

Why continue to argue with marketing professionals who look at a press release as collateral for the sales teams or simply additional online content to raise search engine rankings? Why beat our head against that wall trying to explain that it should only be used to announce actual news?

The Age of the Social Media Press Release

After Tom’s blog post suggesting the old-style formula release be replaced with a new media age version that had special sections and would “tag the information so that as a publisher, I can pre-assemble some of the news story and make the information useful,” there was a valiant effort to resuscitate the press release for new media outlets.

Social Media Press Release Template - Shift Media

A lot of effort went into discussing how to make the content of a press release more interactive and compelling. Todd Defren and the good folks at Shift created a template for it. And Chris Heuer, founder of the Social Media Club tried to bring a larger community together to build on that template. New businesses like Pitch Engine were founded and all the old wire distribution services were eventually forced to incorporate new elements to keep up with the competition.

Did this usher in a new era?

Ian Capstick checked in on the progress of this movement four years later in a post for the MediaShift blog and said “It seems there’s still work to be done in making the social media release a new standard in public relations.”.

Yes, a lot of work, I’d say. And the larger the organization, the harder it is to produce. As an example, someone on the product team might be responsible for photography and video creation. Someone in a marketing team could be producing videos, too, along with other campaign assets. This could include social media elements like a blog post, or there could be a separate social media team that is creating those, as well as Facebook elements. Or, the PR lead could even be writing a blog post and tweeting about it. And who’s in charge of getting the product photos on Google+ and Pinterest?

All that to say that creating a social media press release in a large organization is the proverbial cat herding exercise. It’s a lot of effort to create a press release with the type of multi-media and multi-social network elements Foremski wanted and I’m not convinced it’s worth it. Capstick spoke with one PR agency president for his 2010 post who said, “I don’t think the news release is dead. It’s still a useful communications tool. But that’s what it is: A device that helps tell a story”

What Journalists Really Want

So it tells a story, but to whom? The main audience that public relations people generally try to reach is the media – be that the traditional mainstream variety or the influential blogger variety. And press releases sent on the wire are not reaching that public. At least not with any effect.

For the past six years PWR has surveyed journalists to learn about their news release preferences and in both 2011 and 2012 results, most respondents told them they “never” get releases via wire service. Their preferred method to receive information is that old workhorse email.

PWR Journalist Survey Results

As best I can tell, this is primarily a survey of American journalists, but even as some of the percentages might change around the globe, I’d be surprised – based on conversations with my global colleagues – if wire service overtook the lead in any of them.

But, there is still one group that seems to find getting a press release out via wire distribution very important – the marketing professional. My next post will take a look at another undead topic – that of public relations vs. marketing.

Note: While I currently sit in a public relations role, I have worked on the marketing side of this aisle, too; so while I’m writing this post with my PR hat on, I do understand what it’s like to wear the marketing hat, as well.

Women, Work and Family = The Enjoli Woman Venn Diagram

Warning: Anyone reading this that was born after 1980 might not understand the humor.

I saw all the uproar over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent Atlantic Monthly cover story “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” but mostly avoided reading much of it. It’s not a new topic (I touched on it back in 2008  in the first month I started this blog) and I wasn’t sure I had the energy for the debate. However, this week I went back and pulled up the original to take a look with new eyes.

What prompted me to do this was the email from my summer sitter saying she was heading off to college earlier than planned. This coming just a week after my husband had his second surgery in two months. While the two weeks notice came with an alternate plan, so myself and the other moms who share the sitter weren’t left in the lurch with another month before school starts, it did prompt me to reassess my family’s needs.

So, after several days of reading – hey, it’s more than an article, it’s like a freaking dissertation and all moms know how hard it is to find a large chunk of free, uninterrupted time to just read – I finally finished it today.

It’s definitely not as inflammatory as I thought it would be by the headline and the level of noise it created. Many parts had me shaking my head YES, rather than shaking it in sadness.

But rather than go through it point-by-point or try to give you the Cliff Notes, what hit me as I mulled it over in the shower this morning was a more humorous take.

Anyone familiar with project management, software development or graphic design will have encountered by now the famous Project Management Triangle – which tells us that while we may all want something done good, fast and cheap, we can really only get two out of three.

So today I bring you the Enjoli Woman Venn Diagram – ta da!Women-Can’t-Have-It-All_Enjoli-Woman-Venn-Diagram

I was about the same age my daughter is now when that commercial came out and it definitely influenced my ideas about what I should be when I grew up. Was I sold a bill of goods?

Maybe. But, I don’t think we just give up. Instead we all need to adjust. This statement from Anne-Marie Slaughter’s story put it well, I think:

“If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal.”

That doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen in a generation or two. But, I still hold out hope that my daughter’s generation might realize it.

Pinterest as Portfolio

Portfolio - side view

Pinterest. It’s been called “Napster for Housewives” in Forbes, and Laura McKenna notes that its “lethal combination of social media competition and escapism” hooks the “Aspirational Housewife” in us all.

To hearken back to a 1980s IABC study I read while a university student, is it the “Velvet Ghetto” of social networks? Or, is there more to it? Are there business uses for Pinterest beyond fashion and food? Nikki Pilkington points out the user makeup is a different story in the UK, where men visit the site more frequently.

While I’m still working out the answers to that for brands such as my own employer Dell (I’m part of the team that’s trying things out with some of the company’s first boards in Pinterest), I stumbled across one idea that I think has merit for personal business use – a visual professional portfolio.

I wish I could say I thought of this myself, but I actually saw it somewhere else first. Kelly Barrett created a “Kelly Barrett, the Professional” board and, if memory serves me correct, Rachael King tweeting that is how it first crossed my radar. Then, I also ran across the “my CV” board from Nadav Raviv – not part of that male UK contingent mentioned before, but rather a Pinterest user in Israel.

So, I took the idea from others before me and started my own professional portfolio board. Originally, I dubbed it my “Visual CV,” after memories of the VisualCV networking site I’d joined in 2008, but never used. It sounded cool back then when it was in “early Public Beta phase,” but it always seemed like something that would require too much of my time to set up. So, when I got an email toward the end of 2011 saying it was shutting down, it was no surprise and I congratulated myself on not having invested much time on it. But, it turns out the rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated, or more accurately, that someone else decided to revive it through an acquisition.

And, I still think VisualCV sounds like a good idea. But pinning, is just so easy! If you’re a creative professional (but maybe not this creative) in this day & age, most likely you can find lots of pinnable material online to illustrate your work. It’s as easy to start as doing an ego searchon Google.  (and if the tips in that link from Lifehacker don’t help you with it, then you might have a “Google Credibility” issue you need to address)

Once you’ve searched around and found some items you’re particularly proud of, you can pin away! Adding the “pin it” button to your browser makes it that much easier. Here is the result of one afternoon I spent pinning: Portfolio – Laura P Thomas.

Just keep a few quick tips in mind:

  • Pinterest automatically arranges items in your board in order you pin them. If you want chronological order to the board, you’ll need to be a bit more methodical in your pinning.
  • If you have a career that spans more than the past decade, it’s likely to be tough to find the old stuff online. There are ways you can get creative to fix this. Upload an image you’d like to use for illustration to some place like Flickr, Facebook or your G+ account (somewhere you don’t mind pointing people toward).
  • Even when it is online, not everything you want to showcase will have a pretty image. This can be addressed in the creative way listed above and supplemented with a link in the description to point to more detail about the actual project or the resulting media story.

Since this was not an original idea of mine, it’s likely that many of you may have already created professional boards on Pinterest. If so, please share links and tips in the comments!

Photo via Creative Commons courtesy Bill Ohl

Forgive Me for I Have Not Blogged (SXSW Made Me Do It)

It’s been three months since my last post here. That’s probably enough to take away my blogger card. Or at least hurt my blogger cred.

I could blame it on the holidays, of course. And, then the first three months of the year seem to have been totally sucked up by SXSW. Yeah, I know that’s just a couple of weeks, but it takes a lot of work to prepare for those weeks when you’re doing more than just attending or even speaking.

I took to calling myself “chief cat herder” because we were all over the place trying to make sure the everyone who came to SXSWedu, Interactive, Film and Music knew that they were in the hometown of Dell.

Our presence at SXSW included everything from participating in numerous panels, hosting an Entrepreneurs UnConference at Dell, organizing several “What’s your More?” music and film brand activations, having a Dell@retail booth in the event tradeshow, sponsoring the gaming Screenburn Arcade showcase, prominently placing over 300 products throughout the festival, launching a new education campaign and bringing our Social Media Command Center onsite at the event.

When your child tells random people how glad they are that SXSW is over, you know you’ve been spending too much time on it. It took seven posts just to hit the highlights over on Direct2Dell, but you can see some of it in this new video we just put out:

But, the truth is, there’s always something else to take up my time. And if there isn’t, I’ll find it. Because I really don’t know what to do when I don’t have 10 things to do.

So, I’m making it a goal to get back to being more active here. I’m also going to get more active in IABC. I rejoined my local LSU Alumni board last year, too, and vow to be a much better co-chair for our scholarship fundraiser this year.

It almost feels like New Year’s or something with all these resolutions! Now I just need to start exercising…

Good to Know I’m Still Less than 1 Percent

I’ve been feeling lately like maybe I wasn’t being beta enough.

Having made a job change, I’ve been focusing on remembering old technologies (like the wires) and having very little time for new ones (like Google+).

Was I slipping? About to lose my early adopter cred, I wondered?

Then, a project we launched at work (my employer, Dell) this week showed me I’ve still got it.

You see, we’re partnering with Microsoft and Mastercard on a contest to find “America’s Favorite Small Business.” The contest involves submitting a video through YouTube to enter. Nothing really new there. User-generated content (UGC) contests have been around for several years now.

But, the day the contest launched I went to our YouTube channel to check it out and didn’t see it. There were some of our videos related to the contest, but none of the interface that explained it and allowed contestants to upload their entries.

At first I thought I was just looking too early. Usually when you launch something, there are a few bugs to be worked out. But, it was the same the next day and everyone else was saying it looked good.

What was I missing?

Then, I remembered … it was a panda.

You see, a while back I opted in to YouTube’s Cosmic Panda – a beta test of a new design – and evidently, custom iFrame implementation is not supported in Cosmic Panda.

This caused some concern when I raised the issue with the project team and there was a bit of alarm for a day or so when we thought that 10 percent of YouTube visitors were on Cosmic Panda.

But YouTube came back to assure us (bringing visions of my illustration here) that:

Remain Calm - Kevin Bacon in the movie Animal House

“The new YouTube brand channel designs are being tested less than 1 percent of users who can revert to the classic channels whenever they choose.”

Whew! Most people really will see all that hard work that went into building out the contest.

And, whew! I’m part of a group that is less than 1 percent of users. I’ve still go it! <wink>

The Circle of a Career

It’s Saturday morning and one of the first things I do is go on to Facebook. Not to see what my friends have posted, but to check the Dell for Business and the Social Media for Business pages to see if I need to respond to any comments or wall posts.

And then I remember. That’s not my job anymore!

Yes, yesterday was my last day on Dell’s Small and Medium Business (SMB) Global Marketing team and now someone else is responsible for communicating with our fans there and for managing our Business Solutions Exchange group over on LinkedIn.

Oh, don’t worry. I’m not getting totally out of the social media business. And I’m not leaving Dell. I’m not even moving away from focusing on small to medium size businesses.

An opportunity came for me to return to corporate communications which is where I first started at Dell more than 10 years ago. Beginning this month, I’m responsible for global Channel public relations, US SMB public relations and SMB blogger relations. Oh, and I’ll continue to manage the @DellSMBnews account on Twitter.

Excuse me as I break out into a Lion King song, but it’s all a part of the circle of my career at Dell.Career Circle

I started with Dell Financial Services working both the internal and external sides of communications. Then I was working with my new manager, Jennifer Jones Davis, in consumer public relations when Jeff Jarvis wrote that first infamous blog post. At the time, I worked with all the mainstream media consumer reporters who were calling about unhappy customers, and bloggers were a totally new element.

Then, I was offered a position in Dell’s Global Online team supporting Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. In that role, I was part of the team that launched Direct2Dell, first brought podcasts and RSS feeds to Dell.com and worked to try to implement a more social press release on the site. And, there was that adventure into virtual worlds.

I was then asked to join the SMB Global Marketing team in a role that began 20 percent social media/80 percent marcom landing pages, but evolved to be 20 percent landing pages/80 percent social media. That’s where I got the chance to dig into the new field of marketing in Facebook and LinkedIn, while setting the SMB business unit’s strategy for how we approach social media marketing globally.

So, now I return to my roots with a wealth of new experience under my belt. 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.

I’m not sure what my new title technically is yet, although for a moment I did consider the one Danae claims in this Non Sequitur comic. <wink>

Any suggestions on how I should update this bio I use on Twitter?

Accredited Business Communicator. Digital Marketer. Social Media Strategist. Community Manager. Mom. Wife. LSU Tiger. Dell employee.

Is There a Social Operations Manager in the House?

This is one of those posts where I feel compelled to remind any readers that these thoughts are my own and not my employer’s. Not because I’m saying anything bad, just because I’m expressing a personal opinion on a topic that I don’t think anyone’s got a perfect answer for yet.

It started when I finally got around to reading Olivier Blanchard’s post “Social Business vs. Social Marketing: Understanding the fight over ‘content’.”  It’s been one of those open tabs in my browser that I keep meaning to spend time with, but keep pushing aside. I encourage you to check it out because it’s great food for thought on the topic of content marketing; but, this image in the post took my mind into another direction:

How an organization as a whole should see social media

I agree with the thought that social media should be integrated and leveraged where appropriate to improve all parts of the business. The challenge, however, is in the implementation.

What I mean is, what happens when each of those old white men around the table in the picture tells their team to go “get some of that social media” and their only guide is all the marketing and communications “gurus” out there printing books on how businesses should use social media?

Each one sets out to do the same thing, just for their own little piece of the organization, rather than really examining all the options. It’s not really their fault. The task has probably been handed to someone who really knows their piece of the business, but is now being asked by their manager to tie it to a new shiny object with which they have little experience.

That’s how you end up with stats like those in this Burson-Marsteller report – An increase from 4.2 to 5.8 Twitter accounts per company. A doubling of the average number of Facebook pages per company. A 69 percent increase in YouTube channels per company globally.

This leaves the customer wondering which one they should connect with and sets the organization up for duplication of effort which could translate into overwhelming the very people with which they want to connect.

Think corporate phone tree systems are a nightmare? What if all those options you can press were calling you instead of you choosing them?

Will Group Texting Bring the Email Storm to a New Generation?

Email as we know it today has been around for more than 30 years. So, how is it possible that we still have so much trouble with the “reply all” button?

I’m sitting here on Sunday night trying to decide what to blog about for the day, when I see a couple of emails come in with Japanese characters in the subject line. Not necessarily all that unusual, since I do work in a global role at a worldwide company. Email comes into my inbox 24/7.

But then I notice that more and more emails starting coming one after the other with the same subject line. Then I start seeing some English get mixed in with it. And in no time at all, my inbox suddenly looks like this:

Email - Reply All

And it goes on and on and on. I’m in the middle of what was described just last month in The Wall Street Journal as an “email storm.” It notes that In 1997, Microsoft weathered a storm involving an estimated 15 million emails and a 2007 email storm at the U.S Department of Homeland Security clogged the system with millions of emails.

It’s a great article that gives you the real-life story behind a television commercial you may have seen before; but, my favorite part is the chart that shows just how an email storm develops. It’s so spot on.

We keep hearing the death knell for email. We’re told that young people today rely primarily on text and only old people still use email.  Tonight, I’m thinking that might not be such a bad thing.

But … the buzz this year at SXSW was supposed to be around group texting apps.  Will this just bring the “reply all” snafu to a new generation?