I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. It started some time last fall when I was talking with a member of TheCR Network about how they should approach building out their social media/community team. In the course of the conversation, my recommendation boiled down to this… “hire the smartest people with the most experience you can find. People with experience doing this stuff are extremely perishable. Get them while you still can.”
Late last fall at the WOMMA Summit I had the chance to catch up with several hiring managers from top digital agencies. They both were having the same experience. In the social media services game it was a seller’s market and they were having a hard time finding qualified people to fill their ranks. They had more social strategy work than they could find qualified people to deliver, driving up the salaries/bonuses they expected to pay IF they could find the right talent.
Fast forward several months and I’m in Austin for the annual SXSW Interactive festival, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Over the course of the week I spoke with 10+ people who had either recently jumped from a brand to an agency/vendor or were in the midst of feeling the “community strategist squeeze.” Those that had made a career move had grown frustrated with trying to sell/implement a social strategy inside a big brand and chose to take a pay raise and move to the agency/vendor side instead.
Just today I noticed on Twitter that my friend Chuck Hemann mentioned “The number of openings I’m seeing for director/VP/SVP of digital/social analytics at agencies/cos is astounding. Welcome to the party, world” and it brought me back to this lingering post. He’s right, of course, and I wonder where we’re going to find all the people to fill these shoes?
Landing a job on the agency side requires enough experience and business savvy to justify big ticket consulting fees. Leading social strategy for a brand requires similar experience, but also a willingness to “push a boulder up a hill” for a long time. It’s often hard, thankless work that doesn’t show immediate dividends and usually takes a long time to get right. But I’m not convinced we can completely outsource social and community to an agency and/or vendor.
We launched TheCR Network to help bring community and social strategists up faster, building a network that will help them learn from others successes and failures, in real time. We also partnered with WOMMA and ComBlu to build the Community Manager Training Program, designed to convey the essential skills and share experiences from community leaders in a relatively quick, inexpensive format. While there’s no substitute for experiencing the role yourself, we think these programs go a long way toward exposing the next generation of community leaders to the critical skills and experiences they’ll need to be successful.
Do you see a shortage of community strategists ahead? Are we doing enough to bring along the next generation?
TheCR Network is a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.