I woke up thinking about the future of jobs in social media, and I have some thoughts on the matter. I’m not an expert in these matters, and this is coming all from observation and anecdotal gathering of information, and not from stats. All that said, I think things will be interesting in the next few years.
Self and Entrepreneur Level Work – I think people doing social media for their own projects will continue growing. Same with entrepreneurial social media (meaning as part of something else). People making projects that make them money will continue to use social media to produce these projects. Also, people who are using social media just for fun will continue to grow (but also shift away from those avenues that take time and effort to create).
Small Business Social Media – I believe the biggest growth potential for social media is in small business, but it will be had through a shift out of consulting/education and into service products. In other words, small business owners will pay people for the benefits granted from social media. For instance, a small chain of restaurants might pay for someone to build them a campaign manager for Foursquare, and/or perhaps a managed Facebook presence. I think it’ll be less about the small business people wanting to engage themselves (in the majority) and more about them wanting services that emulate those results.
Midsized and Large Business Social Media – Here’s where the biggest changes happen. I think that smaller social media consulting opportunities will dry up fast over the rest of 2011 and into 2012. I think that existing agencies have enough of the DNA figured out, and that they’ve hired in enough of the rockstar players from 2008 and 2009, so that the little guys courting the big guys is going to be a much harder sell. I think that as businesses (especially B2C) all pursue “influencers” and try to better understand what that will really do (and not do) for their businesses), that we’ll see a push even further into sexy data, into using the marketing data that unstructured data gathering has brought to us all, and that analytics tools and people who know how to drive them will be the next sexy thing.
I Could Be Wrong
I could be wrong, but that’s the sounds I hear from my travels and conversations with the industry. You’re still finding plenty of people interested in what you’re talking about, and you’re still finding smaller contracts all around, but I think that some of the biggest movements in these areas has happened, and that what’s left is primarily the straggler opportunities, at least insofar as how we’ve been practicing social media to date.
I’m looking out into the future to see where I’m going to fit and how I can best help people. This information above is what I see.
Now, could you go and do it a totally different way? Hell yes. And I hope that you do.