One of my key takeaways from this class was our future of work discussion — modern work is constantly evolving and adapting to our increasingly technological society. Hopefully, rather than destroy jobs, technology will work with humans to enhance both work itself and its output. But, there will always be growing pains.
This discussion led me to wonder what the future looks like for people who work in social media. A quick LinkedIn search for jobs with the keywords “social media” came up with over 100,000 results in the United States alone.
But as social media continues to proliferate and become ingrained into so many aspects of work, will the “social media manager” become superfluous? If companies are increasingly recruiting candidates who are digital native and social media fluent for all roles, the distinction of a social media expert may start to fade. It was not so long ago that there were jobs specifically dedicated to operating a computer or typing; these jobs are examples of a different kind of obsolescence that’s not directly caused by technology, but by increased user adoption of technology diffusing a particular skill into something normally expected.
Imagine with me a for a minute…what if everyone becomes so good and trustworthy with social media that companies are able to decentralize their social media management? Think of Boston College’s social media as a very general example: Boston College has some centralized social media, but we also have a network of independent accounts that officially represent the university and abide by certain guidelines. A model similar to this could work for lots of large companies with highly differentiated teams, like Goldman Sachs, for instance. Under this structure, there would probably still be some “Goldman Sachs” social media, but it could be run by a brand manager as one facet of an overall branding strategy. Then each group, like Private Wealth Management, would have their own set of social media accounts, so that they could interact directly with their customers, and extend their highly personalized experience to social media, further integrating themselves into customers lives. They might still have a social media manager somewhere within the group…or would they…
Another key takeaway for me was the potential for artificial intelligence to revolutionize countless common practices. I’m sure there is already AI to predict what social media posts will perform best, and schedule optimal posting. One day, there might be an integrative AI program that would allow anyone, in this case, any private wealth manager, to propose a social media post, have an algorithm determine if it would accomplish specific goals (like a certain click-through-rate), and then schedule it to automatically post if it does. This would help people, like private wealth managers, acknowledge and interact with social media as integral part of customer experience, and make the team’s social media management more collaborative. At the same time, it would basically eliminate the need for a social media manager.
My final key takeaway was the balance between the good and bad of social media. I think before this class, I was a little more negative about social media. Of course, I am on social media personally and I have always recognized its importance in business, but I thought of it as a necessary evil, with its necessity created mostly by its network of effects (i.e. it’s important now because everyone is on it, but we might have been better off if it never been created). After this class, where the good and bad of social came up almost every session and the “creepy/cool line” was our class mantra, I see that the good can potentially outweigh the bad, if we all do our part to help mitigate the bad. But back to my endangered social media manager, the good and bad of social media has the potential to affect a company’s social media strategy, and put the social media manager at risk. It’s unlikely that this would ever become widespread, but there could be some social media managers who lose their jobs because companies decide not to engage in social media at all. Think of superstar celebrities who don’t have social media accounts, like George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt. Their lack of social media leaves something to be desired and can pique curiosity about what they’re not sharing. Could this work for a company? Investing in traditional and experiential marketing instead of social media is risky these days, especially considering the ROI analytics social media provides. But, I think the good and bad of social media might lead a few adventurous companies to give it a try. Sorry social media manager.
So, my overall takeaway from this class is that while social media is firmly established as a critical aspect of both business and life, I’m not sure “social media manager” is the job of the future. I’m sure the same logic applies to other tech-enabled careers; will the expertise that makes these careers be able to stay relevant as adoption and knowledge of technology climbs? I can’t say I have the answer, but I do know this class has given me a nuanced picture of the social media and digital business landscape today, that will help me adapt to whatever the future brings.