Outlook Money Story on Social Media As a Career Option

Outlook Money recently quoted me in a story on social media as a career option –

I am not a social media specialist. Should I acquire social media skills?

Yes. “Social media skills are a multiplier to all sorts of conventional functions. A layer of social media skills over and above your core skills set can help you add value to yourself and your organisation,” says Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social. This specially applies to people in the PR and marketing domain, those who have a primary responsibility in engaging with an audience… (but also to) HR professionals can use the social media as a recruitment tool to locate the right candidate based on skills and work profile.

Here is the full text of the story –

The Right Connect
As Companies increasingly use social media to reach out, it opens up a new career avenue
Anagh Pal

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The Guiding Lights

1. Social Media Marketer/Strategist: Responsible for shaping and guiding the strategy and tactics to manage the social media presence of a brand. Those with a background in conversational marketing and PR domain are generally considered for this role.
2. Community Manager: Acts as a central communication channel between the company and its stakeholders on the web. His job is to create a passionate community of users, and spread the word about his company through all mediums.
3. Social Media programmers/developers: They need to build social applications that can use and integrate Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Orkut and other platforms to manage a client’s brand presence. Competence in open-source platforms like WordPress, Joomla etc., and programming expertise in languages like php is required.
4. Social Media trackers and taggers: Their job is to track brand mentions in social media. They need to be able to distinguish good posts from bad and ones to respond accordingly
5. Social Media Writers: People who can respond and write on behalf of a brand and can communicate in the right tone and manner.
6. SMO (Social Media Optimization) Specialist: An SMO specialist uses social media to attract traffic to the company’s website in combination with search engine optimisation. Should have knowledge of writing key-word rich blog-posts, and RSS optimisation.

Source: Iffort Consulting, Pinstorm)

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Delhi-based Gautam Ghosh, a consultant at 2020 Social—a firm that helps clients leverage social technologies—is a regular on Twitter. Recently, he underwent an eye surgery. Ghosh had put up a tweet saying once back from the surgery, he wanted to read a particular book.

He got a reply from Dial-a-book, which not only sent him get-well-soon wishes, but also informed him that he could call them up to get the book delivered to him. Here is a classic example of how companies are using social media to reach out to their audience. What we see above is not an in-your-face promotional or an annoying telemarketing call, but an unobtrusive way of engaging a customer.

Social media in India is still in a nascent stage, but with the number of users estimated to be more than 19 million in December 2008 and growing at over 50 per cent (according to comScore, a digital marketing intelligence firm), things are changing fast. A company will allocate resources to hire a social media specialist only when it is convinced that it is beneficial from a return of investment (ROI) perspective. Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO, Pinstorm, a search marketing firm, says that the social media revenue spend for Indian companies next year would be limited to about Rs 50 crore, but an equal opportunity exists for social media management from India for overseas clients.

Who is a social media management professional? Daksh Sharma, co-founder, Iffort Consulting, a Web strategy and social media consulting firm, says: “The beauty is that consumers on the Internet are looking to connect with real humans, thereby creating a big demand for professionals who can help companies manage the different aspects of the interactive Web.” That’s precisely the job of a social media management professional.

What is the demand? No data is available on the requirement of social media professionals in India. However, Murthy puts the figure at about 5,000 in the next 1-2 years. It might seem humble, but looking at how social media is finding relevance in our lives, it could just be the tip of the iceberg.

What are the job functions? For different job functions in this space, see The Guiding Lights. A social media programmer, though not part of the core social media management domain, has also an important role to play. Smaller firms and start-ups with limited budgets may have just one or two guys to manage their social media presence. Bigger firms would mostly outsource their work to an external agency with one or two internal people to supervise the proceedings, or, in some cases, have an internal team of their own.

Where can I expect to get hired? First, there would be companies who need someone internally, as part of their communications team, to handle social media aspects. Second, and probably the largest employers, would be social media firms whose job is to enable firms manage their social media presence. Then, there would be marketing services firms who would be setting up social media cells.

What skills do I require? “One needs to be social media savvy and have basic understanding of blogs, micro-blogs like Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites,” says Sharma. Right now, there are no recognised courses in India that impart such skills, though they can be expected in a couple of years. However, a social media professional, in most cases, will build upon a core area of expertise. Mostly, it would be people with traditional marketing/communications experience who already have a deep understanding of brand building and customer relations.

How much will I get paid? Salaries depend on job profiles, skills set and experience. For a tracker, who has the most basic job, it could be Rs 1 lakh a year or so. With 3-4 years of experience behind him, a person would gradually move into other roles and can expect a salary of Rs 3 lakh-4 lakh per annum. The social media strategists, with substantial experience in their core area, earn the highest. “A person with expertise and, say, 10 years’ marketing communication experience can easily earn Rs 18 lakh or more,” says Murthy.

What is the job like? Kinshuk Sunil, manager (community and relations), OSSCube, an open source solutions firm, says, “The best thing about my job is that I get to interact with many people and that is also the challenging part of it. Building and nurturing human relations is one of the most important aspects of community management, and always being in the loop is both daunting and rewarding.”

I am not a social media specialist. Should I acquire social media skills?

Yes. “Social media skills are a multiplier to all sorts of conventional functions. A layer of social media skills over and above your core skills set can help you add value to yourself and your organisation,” says Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 2020 Social. And this specially applies to people in the PR and marketing domain, those who have a primary responsibility in engaging with an audience. Marketers can use it as a platform (video, text, audio) to engage in conversations and spread the word about their company’s brand. An example would be a laptop manufacturer giving a free laptop to a lucky user whose tweets contain the company hashtag (which makes the company name easily searchable on Twitter). HR professionals can use the social media as a recruitment tool to locate the right candidate based on skills and work profile.

Social media is certainly the next big thing. You can choose to bury your head in the sand like the ostrich, and look the other way. Or you can take the plu­nge.

anaghpal AT outlookindia DOT com

I build and nurture online communities as CEO of 2020 Social. Read my bio, interview me for a media story, invite me to speak at a conference or ask me how we can help you. E-mail me at [email protected], call me at +91-9999856940, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Slideshare.

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