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Social Media as a Career?

Interesting article in Fortune about the rise of the Social Media Manager and social media careers in the US.

I agree that in the future it will be a skill-set rather than a career

The demand for social media jobs has exploded, even as overall unemployment hovers around 10%. A recent study published by showed that 59 of the Fortune 100 companies have at least one employee who works full time in social media, and that job postings directly related to social media have soared 600% in the last five years.

As social media hiring has picked up, the pool of qualified talent has failed to keep pace. The resulting imbalance of supply and demand, says Curtis Hougland, founder of the New York-based marketing and social media firm Attention, is the surest sign of hiring inflation.

Demand for social media skills in the corporate world has outstripped the supply of candidates with training in communications and the analytical skills to track the effectiveness of a media campaign. The void, Houghland says, has been filled by a burgeoning workforce of self-proclaimed social media experts — qualified and not so qualified.

It’s all part of an effort to get in on a hiring spree that shows no immediate signs of slowing, says Jim Durbin, a social media headhunter and entrepreneur.

“This next year,” Durbin says, “is when it will really start to explode.”

There are several levels of expertise within the social media profession. Most commonly, there’s the community manager – the feet on the ground, so to speak, who oversee a company’s online communities; the analyst or strategist — who builds and monitors social media campaigns; the product developer – who is responsible for keeping the company’s software up to date; the editor or publisher — who oversees content and the brand; and the executive — a rare position, usually filled by a public relations professional.

Typically, companies hire some combination of these positions. The field also dances along the edges of customer service, IT, public relations, marketing and sales, according to the Social Media Influence report.

But even for the most qualified social media wizards, pure social media careers may not exist 10 years down the line. As it becomes more ubiquitous, social media is evolving into a skill set, not a profession.

But that doesn’t spell a life of poverty for tech-smart, well-spoken social media managers. The Community Managers Meetup, a group of social media professionals started by social media strategist Vadim Lavrusik, counts more than 300 people in its membership. And Lavrusik says they aren’t worried.