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The death of the social media manager

The Social Media (Marketing) manager is a position forward-thinking companies have been recruiting for since 2007-2008. Perceived as a new marketing channel, the Social Media Manager (SMM) was put in charge of crafting a social media strategy for the business, a document which essentially was a simplistic action plan for the use of Facebook and Twitter in the marketing /communications efforts. Very quickly more sites and networks and tools became more commonplace, and fundamental building blocks in the social media plan, such as video / photo sharing sites, social bookmarking sites and blogging, made their way into the social media “strategy”…

In the early days, the Social Media Manager made recommendations to include social links on the company website, then included widgets (LIKE Us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter), and maybe even convinced the web team to add social sharing buttons on certain pages. The social media advocacy soon became a real nuisance for the entire marketing and digital teams, and the demanding social media manager got more and more frustrated with every passing day… The bigger the corporate was, the more frustrating that job was …  

Slowly the once-excited-now-deflated Social Media Manager concentrated their efforts to community management, trying to come up with content to share on a daily basis, manage the reactions, comments and tweets. During the next couple of years, software vendors popped up to assist the community manager (previously known as the Social Media manager), offering dashboards, monitoring, analysis, content curation, and even help with content creation.  Enterprise software salespeople managed to secure major corporate accounts, selling the dream and charging hefty licences fees. The social media manager had another tool (or tools) to master, and now not only had to justify his own position, but the return-on-investment of the new and expensive software the company just bought… 

Fast-forward to 2012-2013, government regulations and even the stock exchanges, require Social Media monitoring of the company’s own channels as well as the general conversation on the various channels. There are now legal implications, risk and compliance implications, and real/tangible implications on the company’s share price. The poor Social Media manager, moved from the role and responsibility of the community manager, to have a CEO responsibility! No real increase in her remuneration though… 

The HR director and team discovered the power of LinkedIn, and even bought the Recruiter package, to be able to source (or to use an industry term  - poach) talents. They don’t call it Social Media, because it’s an HR function. So the Social Media manager is feeling left out, as he’s managing the LinkedIn company page updates anyway, but not the job postings on that company page…

IT has also been struggling for a while…  The Social Media manager repeatedly asked to allow employees to have access to social sites (LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc) on their work computer / laptop, creating massive hassle to the IT department. They now have to deal with upgrading the network and broadband accounts to allow video streaming, allow and support multiple browsers (not just the standard Internet Explorer, who’s now been left behind). Not to mention the fact that people now bring their own mobile device (some call it BYOD program/ policy), to be able to access their social networks and keep up with current technologies, rather than relying on the corporate to provide up-to-date devices… 

The IT director said they'll “…be ready to upgrade the infrastructure within 18-24 months”. The Social Media manager took 48 hours stress leave, to let it sink…                    


In the past few months I’ve been reading about the decline in job ads for the Social Media Manager role. Does it mean that the social media function is no longer needed? Did the role itself become so unmanageable for one person to handle? Or maybe the initial credentials for the role are no longer enough? I can see a shift in corporate understanding that everyone is now using social networks to some degree, whether they just reading blogs or watching YouTube videos, have a Facebook account to keep in touch with family overseas, or actively utilising social networks to sell, market, or recruit for the organization. The more people using these networks, and as the usage expands, so are the implications on the corporate. More and more people are now required to have social media skills to get a job, and not necessarily only in the marketing function of the business. HR, Legal, IT, Compliance, Sales, BI, and operations all have been affected by social media. The Social Media manager is now dead, as social media is becoming a function involving most if not all of the people in the organization. 

If you had similar, or even completely different from the above, please let me know in the comments..
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