Three careers that will dominate social media (and it’s not what you think)

I’m a marketing guy. And boy I love it.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than a great case study! Well, almost nothing.

But as I look to the future, I’m not sure marketing, sales, advertising, or even PR are going to be the leading career paths for somebody I would hire to lead a social organization transformation.  Of course these areas are important — and will continue to be — but if I’m growing a corporate social media competency, here is who I would be hiring in my company:

1) Journalism. The social web’s need for content and storytellers is insatiable. I was recently on a panel with a dean of a large journalism school and he said they are having record enrollment. Why? Where are these people getting jobs?  Alternative media. The ability to rapidly crank out superb content is at the heart of any new media strategy. As the information density of the social web continues to escalate to unbearable levels, the ability to stand out through scintillating content will be essential.

2) HR/Change management. You want to know the biggest problem companies face in finding social media success? It’s not budget or talent or vision. It’s corporate culture. Every large company is creaking and churning toward a reaction-oriented, empowered culture that can succeed in this environment. This change is going to take some gut-wrenching organizational shifts and, as we are already seeing, the jettisoning of entire teams of people who don’t have the right skills to make the transition.  HR needs to be in the middle of this transition — and move these companies forward quickly!

3) Statisticians. If I were hiring a new social media marketing employee today, it would be a statistician, not a marketing major. Marketing has always been about finding insight from data but in the past that data was pretty difficult and expensive to come by for most businesses. We are entering the era of big data where marketing — even at small companies — will be ruled by math. The lack of basic understanding of statistics and analytics by social web “experts” and SEO consultants today is shocking. But make no mistake, this is where the treasure lies.  I think it would be easier to teach marketing to a statistician than the other way around. Marketing success will come to those who will be able to tease the most insight from data, so I’m putting my money on the numbers folks.

I know this is unconventional thinking but I think if you look at the mega-trends, it makes sense. What do you think?

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