Social media as a job function is on the rise - Indeed.com shows over 1000 open positions posted to job boards with the word "social media" in the title, and over 21,000 jobs using the words "social media" somewhere in the job description. Compare this with an established technical position like "java developer," which rings in at over 48,000 positions. I'm inundated with people who want to "break" into social media, or who want an entry-level position to learn the ropes.
But what does it mean to be in social media? The growth of the sector seems explosive from the outside, but I believe we haven't seen anything yet. Companies still don't understand how to add social media to their divisions and to their initiatives. Right now, you have islands inside companies run by one or at best a small group of people who get "it," or you have a national strategy for huge corporations that just scrapes the potential of what could be achieved.
So what does a guy who doesn't even have any recent blog posts know about this? Well - I do still speak with social media types on a regular basis during searches, and the blog is dormant because we just came off our busiest year ever. And while everything I offer is anecdotal and not backed by hard research, the trendlines are all the same. Social media as a business phenomenon is petering out (seriously - how many of you are landing large dollar accounts with social media projects? Not many - the growth is all in applications), but social media as a magnifying force inside existing divisions is set to explode.
Off the top of my head, I can think of amazing, million dollar (in monthly savings) programs in customer care, recruiting, event promotion and planning, television and magazine spend, and direct mail and catalog uses that take social media by the horns and bend it to their will.
This isn't the community evangelism that so many people were pitching a couple of years ago - this is utilizing existing infrastructure to create value in a way that is authentic, results-based, and easy to measure using the same metrics you apply to your current systems.
The post has already gone far from where I intended it to. I was going to address low-level social media jobs that companies could add in the transition from traditional marketing to integrated marketing, but that will be saved for another post.
What I'm trying to say is that social media as a separate discipline was always a fools errand. Social media embedded into all of your publishing systems is where we're headed. If you want to get ahead of the curve, start thinking about how social media can be applied to your job, right now. Don't seek out a position - seek out a way to use social media to do your job better, and the results will be what you wanted all along - a more interesting position without the inherent risk and low salary of breaking into a new field.