Social Media Strategist is a Real Job

Wow! Things change so fast in this Internet-driven world.

And if your business is wholely or largely in the online world, how you describe what you do and have reasonable confidence that will still be an appropriate tag a couple of years from now? OK, twelve months from now?

As I realized the other day when someone looked at my business card and said “‘Blogging Evangelist’ eh? That’s good.” Well yes, if you say so, but for several months now, while still being in practice a (lower case initial) “blogging evangelist”, I’ve been describing myself more as a “social media consultant”.

Whoops! I’d actually forgotten that was what’s on my card is “Business Coach & Blogging Evangelist”. And as I hear the branding experts out there tut-tutting over my slackness in not getting new cards made, I say in my defence that I’ve been having a challenge being really definite about what the right tag is for what I do (apart from coaching, which I am quite clear about). I’m “ok” about “social media consultant”, but not over the moon about it.

So it might be just as well that I haven’t ordered new cards yet, because I really think that what I do now, or do better than “consulting”, is strategizing.

Having spent many years consulting, I know that there are a lot of things about consulting I don’t like, or see as not being fun to do, whereas I love strategizing and in certain areas of activity I reckon I’m quite good at it.

That would suggest that it is more accurate and potentially more helpful to potential clients, for me to describe myself as a “social media strategist”.

As far as the “social media” tag is concerned, I’m comfortable with it, even though some of my friends dislike, even loathe it. Jeremiah Owyang doesn’t like the term – correction, actually hates the term “social media” – but appears to be resigned to using it for want of a better one. Chris Heuer likes it enough to have named his company Social Media Club.

It doesn’t trouble me that the experts disagree on the terminology. With due respect to their knowledge and expertise, they are not, as far as I can see, my market.

But will companies pay for social media strategy?

On the basis of anecdotal evidence from colleagues and some business I have attracted, as well as enquiries I’ve had, companies will pay for social media strategists.

In fact, some companies are actually hiring people to fill the role on a full time basis.

Such as the Motive Quest company in Evanston IL, “a company focused on understanding the impact of social media on business marketing decisions” and currently advertising on Social Media Jobs for a Lead Strategist.

Jim Durbin, a headhunter specializing in the social media space, has a great interview with Jason Falls, who recently went through a process of hiring a social media expert and goes into great detail about how he did that, what responses he got, what made some candidates stand out from others (and why some hopefuls just didn’t “get it”). He also provides invaluable commentary on appropriate salary rates for positions of this kind. The post is a must-read for anyone hiring for social media expertise and for anyone looking for a role of this kind in a company.

So yes, Social Media Strategy is a Real Job.

Which means that there is probably someone out there who loves social media and online community building, but is currently “between roles” and would like to be able not to have their parents say any more “When are you going to get a Real Job?”. If that’s you, or someone you know, then bookmark sites like Social Media Jobs and check out Jim’s post – there’s a checklist embedded in it of what to do and what not to do when seeking a job as a social media strategist.

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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  1. Pingback: Account Planning + Social Media + Community management = Social media strategist role and activity - Fast.Fwd.Innov
  2. Social Media strategist position is a real job that can generate real good communications feedbacks and indirect business development. But to do so, missions and objectives need to be clearly stated, as Jim Durbin says.
    But what kind of abilities a Social media strategist should have? Think about something like inbetween Account planning and community management. What about you?
    I’ve started the conversation here:

  3. I think you have it about right up above – in our world (MotiveQuest) the strategist must be able to reduce HUGE amounts of data to the underlying, hidden human motivations & drivers and competitive dynamic. This is then used as the raw material for providing our clients with actionable insight on the business challenge of interest.

    MotiveQuest LLC

  4. Des,

    I think Business Coach and Blogging Consultant is the best title – we stuck with interactive marketing firm with an emphasis on social media for our tags, because social media is a toolset, not a position.

    Do companies pay for this? Absolutely. We’ve been selling our services for over two years, and the question is never if, but when. They get the benefits, but don’t have the managers to understand how to judge someone’s performance. Unfortunately, a lot of companies just place interns or fresh college grads on the project, in the mistaken belief that a Facebook account = expert (or expert enough).

    It’s a slower path to adoption than I first thought we’d see, but the good news is that the bill rates remain very high, so maybe that’s not a bad thing:)

  5. I haven’t been on your blog all that log to know your style of writing but are you being funny? Companies are going all out these days for social media information and strategy development. I’ve been working in this space and I had to chance my focus from just blogging to social media so I could be more marketable. Blogging being a subset or component of social media.

  6. Shailesh. I trust I’m right in taking your “are you being funny?” as a rhetorical question. But I’m not sure I get what you are telling us other than what I endeavoured to write about in the post. Are you reinforcing what I’m saying, that companies are paying money for employees and consultants to help them with social media strategy? Or something else?

  7. Jim: Good to hear you are having no trouble attracting business in this space. You may well be right on a theoretical level, that social media is a toolset, not a position, but if companies are advertising for positions including the descriptor “social media” surely the market has spoken. Personally I don’t care whether someone who wants to pay me for my services as a coach sees me as a blogging specialist or a social media specialist. It’s their starting point that is important to me, much more than the title I give myself currently. The fact is, for a number of people who ask me to help them, I’m “the blogging guy”. One of the things that reminds me of is that there are plenty of business people out there who are not part of this theoretical discussion – in fact, and obviously, and happily for us, more of them than there are of us.

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