Shel Israel had an interesting blog post last week about how many social media consultants within his social circles are accepting full-time positions.
When Shel asks them why they decided to jump back into the corporate world, the answer was “it’s time” – to which Shel wrote: “They’re absolutely right. It’s time because the times have fast-evolved”.
Shel’s observation is bang on because it reflects how quickly the social media landscape is changing. In simple terms, social media as a standalone activity is coming to an end.
For the past few years, the emergence of social media has generated a lot of interest and demand by companies looking for information about what’s happening and why/if they should get involved.
It’s been a great time to be a social media consultant because there is such a thirst for knowledge. But as companies gain more insight into social media and have employees who are social media savvy, there is less need to hire social media consultants.
This is not to suggest that companies no longer need social media consultants but their roles will be different and arguably less in demand.
If you are a social media consultant, you need to be really, really good at providing strategic counsel, as well as have in-depth knowledge of the tools and services need to execute tactically.
For everyone else, they will need to offer than just social media strategic and tactical services. Instead, they have to offer services that embrace communications, marketing and sales strategies and goals.
In other words, it will be the people who are multi-dimensional and able to offer insight about big-picture issues who will thrive.
More: An interesting read is Peter Shankman’s post on why he wouldn’t hire a “social media expert”, which offers some more thoughts on how these kind of people are uni-dimensional. Again, it’s not a bad thing to be a specialist but I think there will be less demand as companies become more sophisticated and educated about social media.