With social media becoming an ever-increasing part of communications strategies, how can a position dedicated to managing social media be already on the way out?
The answer to that is easy and predictable. Social media never was — or should have been — an end in itself. It is just another tool, a cool one at that, in your integrated communications toolkit.
Social media is the perfect answer for some marketing and issue management needs and a non-starter for others. Just like TV ads, billboards and direct mail.
In the marketing PR world, the right answer isn't what service you sell; it is the tool or tools that get the job done.
Think of social media in the same light as websites. Not that long ago, websites were rarities as part of communications strategies. Now, it is rare to find a communications plan that doesn't call for a website. Social media is following a similar pattern. It is becoming a staple in most communications strategies. But it usually is just a part of the strategy.
Social media should be added to the mix of tactics and channels when it offers an effective and budget-friendly way to connect with the audience you seek to reach.
PR professionals need to be fluent in the uses of social media — from Facebook to blogs — to squeeze out their maximum advantage. They also need to know the value of a trusted voice echoing through social media channels and the pitfalls of an ill-considered, off-hand post that can stir up a hornet's nest. But these are just another set of skills that go along with understanding how to pitch a story to the media, organize a fantastic event or fill a website with useful, relevant content.
By all means, learn all you can about social media — and keep learning, because it seems to change almost daily. But don't set your sights on becoming a social media manager. That never was a very secure career perch. And now it seems to be a dying branch.