Once hyped as the next big thing, the social media job market has recently undergone a considerable slowdown, according to newly released stats from career site Indeed.com. Growth in positions with the title “social media manager” have slowed to 50 percent in the past year, a dramatic decline from recent years when triple digit growth was commonplace.
Some of social media’s most loyal advocates claim that social media jobs are now frequently regarded with skepticism, even contempt. But don’t delete those social media skills from your résumé just yet.
Behind the decline in social media managers is a change in the way that social media itself is used within companies and organizations. Once the exclusive domain of digital gurus, Facebook, Twitter and other tools are gradually becoming everyone’s responsibility. For instance, those in public communications and marketing have seen a major increase in demand for social savvy candidates across the business in recent years.
Compared to a year ago, there are 13 times as many jobs on Indeed that involve the use of social media in some way, and this demand spans many level, from executive assistants to senior vice presidents. This demonstrates that social is no longer peripheral, but core to any company or organization’s strategy. And these same transformations are registering across a broad range of industries. As a business solution, social media has evolved, moving well beyond marketing and public relations departments, to address business objectives across various companies and organizations.
Customer service teams at many companies have already embraced social media, often out of necessity. More than half of consumers now use social tools like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to companies with questions and complaints, according to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report. Meanwhile, sales teams are also turning to Twitter, LinkedIn and other tools, with 61 percent of U.S. marketers now using social media to generate new business.
Thus, the notion of a single person who spends their entire day on Twitter creating hashtags is dead. Being social is part of everyone’s job, or soon will be.
Whether everyone is adequately trained for that job, however, is another question. Just as it took years to fully onboard email, integrating social media into the workplace is frustrated by a skills gap. For an older generation of employees, social media often remains misunderstood and underutilized. Even digital natives–younger workers brought up by the Internet–need to be trained to use the tools in a business context.
“Business requires people with the skills and understanding on how to use… social media professionally in an integrated and strategic way,” says Dr. William Ward, a professor at Syracuse University who teaches a series of popular social media courses. “Using it to connect with friends and family” is not the same thing.