We Will See Fewer “Head of Social Media” Roles in 2013


Social Fresh 2013 Social Media Predictions: 7/10

Want to be Head of Social Media for a brand you admire?


As time passes, that’s going to be increasingly unlikely to happen.

Why’s that? Simple: In 2013, organizations will shift away from hiring “Global Director of Social Media”-like roles.

A few months ago, Leslie Stevens-Huffman outlined five tech roles on the endangered list, including system administrators, data center specialists, and more. Head of Social Media would be an appropriate name to add to that list for a number of reasons.

To be clear, the reason why we’ll see less Head of Social Media positions is because social media is becoming increasingly important, not less.

Social media holds so much potential for companies that they simply can’t afford to silo its usage. Where would companies be if we had kept telephone usage in a silo, as opposed to leveraging its benefits across the organization?

Increasingly, companies are figuring out that many departments and functions can benefit from social media, from product development to retail marketing to public relations, and more. Because of that, you’re going to be more likely to see individuals rise to leadership roles in those departments that have experience leveraging social media to reach their departmental objectives.

More “social-centric” roles will begin to show up in departments across the organizations, leading to an increasingly non-centralized approach to corporate social media usage.

While we see this shift already beginning, it’s still pretty common to see a director of social media position listed online. In fact, a search on Indeed for “Director + ‘Social Media’” around New York, NY just presented me with 908 roles.

In 2013, the roles that show up for such a search will evolve.  Depending on the size of the organization, you may see more roles along the lines of Director of Social Media Excellence. Roles of this nature which will hold a thought leadership position in the organization, and will be responsible for establishing guidelines for how departments ought to engage on social platforms, and providing guidance on what to avoid. These roles will also be responsible for coordinating across departments, serving as a referee between different parts of the organization

Sounds glamorous?

It shouldn’t.

Once numerous departments start leveraging social media to better achieve their KPIs, they shouldn’t need long-term help from the global social media role. In fact, the better these Director of Social Media Excellence do in their roles, the quicker they’ll render themselves obsolete.

At this year’s annual Gartner Symposium, the company stressed how the new reality of mobile, social, and cloud will change how we work, and exactly what roles companies will need. Gartner Senior Vice President and head of research Peter Sondergaard predicted that IT infrastructures will become “obsolete.” Given the change in technologies easily available across organizations, IT departments may simple become middlemen and bottlenecks between departments and what they need to achieve. Once organizations have headcount using social media across multiple departments, will they really need as many global directors of social media to bottleneck progress? Probably not.


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