15 years ago, when web sites began to appear on the horizon of corporate agendas, there was a great deal of confusion as to who should be reponsible for them. At the time, graphic designers weren’t technically savvy enough and IT specialists didn’t understand design and communications.
It’s around this time that people like me were entering the communications field. We came into web design when it needed a hybrid of design and programming. Of course, a decade later, there are entire departments and companies built around web design manned by highly specialized experts.
Social media is at the same place web design was in the early 90s. There are experts from PR, marketing, and web design all adding social media to their list of responsibilities. Few companies are dedicating positions or departments to social media. Many agencies are adding social media services to their offering, generally giving the responsibility to staff that has shown interest in SoMe. In these companies and agency, even in the industry in general, there is much discussion of who should be responsible for social media: PR, marketing, web design, etc. As a matter of fact, there are articles popping up all over the place discussing what makes a social media expert or poking fun at the idea of a social media expert at all.
In the coming years SoMe will no doubt me staffed by teams of specialists in analytics, character Twitterers, Facebook community managers, and more. It may be some time before social media becomes a must-have of a company’s marketing and communications plans. Until then social media will no doubt be helmed by the same type of jack-of-all-trades types that were there for the explosion of the Web.
What I’m getting at is: Should an existing profession be the one to take the reigns of social media for their employer or client? Or, should a new profession emerge, just like the webmasters of the 90s, to focus on pulling all the SoMe bits together? At least until they can afford to staff their department with specialists!
The SoMe Pro:
So what do we call these hybrids? “Social media expert” already has a bad wrap. Online Communications Consultant? Digital Community Ambassador? Anyone? Bueller?