Social Media skills would be a part of every job in the future

Customer service, social media, complaints

Currently social media jobs are quite a rarity – at least in India. Such profiles are primarily in the marketing agencies, from PR to advertising and digital marketing firms to specialty social media firms. However there are indications that social media outsourcing is poised to become big with a lot of third party customer engagement work from the western world being outsourced to India.

But not just third party service providers – a lot of Indian firms – mostly Business to Consumer firms are realising that social media is slowly becoming a key component of their marketing mix and are either creating separate jobs for the same or making it a large part of Digital Marketing profiles. In fact, I manage a list of Indian client side social media folks here.

However in my view, the future is going to be different. Sure specialist social media positions will not go away – however social will become a key component of jobs that interface with the external world. Like recruitment for instance. See this profile and this profile. It will also become a key component of jobs that are internal in nature as slowly organizations leverage social tools internally to connect employees to employees and employees to activities using tools like SocialText, Yammer, Chatter, Telligent, Qontext and Socialcast.

So what parts of the organization apart from Corporate Communications and Marketing will be poised to be impacted :

  1. Customer Care : As mentioned earlier this is the big growth area and while might be done operationally by third part service providers , the person internally responsible would have to build expertise in social media. In fact for smaller firms competing with larger firms customer care would be marketing and the ability to respond to a customer complaint , as well as acknowledging kudos would become table stakes. The next step would be to empower customers to connect with and solve other customers’ problems. Customer care would be a “social facilitator”
  2. Product and Service Innovation – This would be in two ways. One would be to actively listen to what prospective and current users are saying about their experiences as well as their needs and use that insight to offer new or improved service or products. The other would be to actively engage users to co-create products and services.
  3. CSR – An example of how corporate branding and CSR is being linked using “movement marketing” and leveraging social media is Mahindra’s Rise. We’ll see more and more such initiatives and CSR people would need to move away from “funding” to people who focus on inviting others to contribute (money, resources, time and ideas)
  4. HR – Have already talked about external roles like social recruiting, but HR folks can leverage the concept of listening and inviting feedback by applying the same principles of participation internally to drive employee engagement. Services like Rypple is letting people set “social goals” and invite feedback from peers – changing the very nature of how to drive employee engagement. Rewards and recognition is also poised to become social – backed by data analytics. Some more thoughts here
  5. Knowledge Management and Learning – The earlier concept of “extracting” knowledge from employees never caught on and nobody willingly added documents to traditional Knowledge Repositories. Erstwhile KM leaders need to facilitate employee to employee knowledge sharing leveraging social principles of gamification and social recognition.

So, forget about becoming a social media expert. That role is going to be redundant in 3-4 years. Focus on building social skills in a subject/ domain. That would give you a headstart over your peers who only have domain skills. Social media skills are like “public speaking” – it would not be a entry criteria to the future career in the future workplace – but would surely be the criteria for future growth.

Customer services
Image by gordon2208 via Flickr


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+Gautam Ghosh is part of the HR team at Philips India looking after digital and social strategy and projects . He blogs at Talent and Social Business about how the world of and careers and organizations is changing due to social technologies and Tweets as @GautamGhosh Gautam’s blog has been listed by HRWorld amongst the top 25 HR blogs worldwide the top 50 HR Blogs to watch in 2009 by and also amongst the Career 100 – a list of the top 100 career related blogs globally in the English language. His blog is also featured on the Alltop Careers and Alltop India categories. Earlier the blog has been featured as a case study in the book Business Blogs: A Practical Guide Gautam’s experience in the corporate world was as a HR Manager at Deloitte & Touche and earlier in the HR and Learning & Development function in organizations like Dell, Hewlett Packard and Satyam Computer Services. He has also been an independent consultant and trainer and worked with social business firms 2020 Social and Qontext.