Will Social Media Be a Career in Five Years? Two Social Marketers Debate

evolution of marketingForbes contributor Jason Nazar recently posted a tongue-in-cheek article that reflects on the nativity of today’s youth and shares advice from a 34-year-old to Millennials: “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get.” (Thanks to Ashley Sanders for sharing with me.)

One statement of the 20-part list sparked debate amongst the social team: “social media is not a career.” Nazar elaborates, stating that social media careers will not exist in five years, and that social media is “a means to get more awareness… not an end in itself.” Caroline Kamerschen, a former Engauge intern, and I dig into the topic.

Agree: Social Media Careers Will No Longer Exist in Five Years

Marketing is the act of promoting branded messages to new or potential consumers. Marketing has transitioned from “push” to “pull” messaging. Social media is the first type of marketing in which users opt-in to receive branded content and to participate in a branded conversation. Because the follow action is voluntary, brands must provide a reason for users to join.

push vs. pull marketingSocial media is a platform – a means to reach individuals via conversation. And, the process of facilitating conversations is maturing.

In social media’s infancy, brands set up Facebook pages and invited users to follow the brand and receive their content. Yet, Millennials show fatigue in this practice; in fact, only 30% of Millennials follow more than three brands in their social channels (MediaPost).

Brands continue to discover new, meaningful, innovative ways to facilitate conversations with individuals. Whether through influence marketing, social whitepapers or other interactive experiences, and sponsored content, social media is more about reaching individuals within contextual, value-add experiences where they’re already interacting.

How users interact with branded content will continue to become inherently social. In five years, social media will be an ingrained component of every marketer’s job description – from the paid media, to brand planning, to email teams. And, social media marketing will cease to be a career in 5 years, replaced by the latest, most contextual means to reach consumers.

Disagree: Social Media Careers Are Here to Stay

As a member of the Millennial age group, perhaps I have some bias. Young people are taught that social media is the future, not only for its personal use but for the inarguable value it offers to brands. A few examples of value that social media enables:

  • Facilitation of customer service in consumer’s platform of choice: Beyond crafting perfectly worded tweets that will entice users to retweet and spread the message, social media has become the go-to customer service tool for many companies. Rather than be forced to sit on hold often upwards of hours waiting for the next available customer service representative, customers can get service in real time, often faster than traditional means, on social media.
  • Connection with existing customers: More than customer service, social media provides a forum for brands to connect with consumers on a personal level. Companies showcase their brand personality through Instagram photos, Facebook posts and Tweets on their owned social presences. Utilizing social media can make even the largest brands seem much smaller and more relatable to consumers.
  • Engagement with potential customers: Social media’s benefits extend beyond current customers. Strong social media presence increases companies reach to new and potential customers as well. As a result, ROI also increases. This level of consumer awareness would not be possible without utilizing social media.

Thus, discrediting the significance of these benefits to argue social media careers are short-term seems naïve. “Convenience” is the mantra of the Millenial generation, making the exploding popularity of social media and its careers in the past few years only logical.  Not only would I argue that this career will outlast the five-year deadline set by Nazar, but argue that its exponential growth will actually continue to climb in the next ten years.

Tell us – do you think social media will be a career in five years?

(Thanks to Caroline Kamerschen for co-authoring this post.)

One thought on “Will Social Media Be a Career in Five Years? Two Social Marketers Debate

  1. Interesting debate. I could easily argue both sides of it. I’m wondering if there will ever be a day where the word “social” is dropped from social media and it’s just called “media.”

    Social media will always be a valuable career skill. In that respect, yes, I agree it’ll be a job in five years.

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