Demand for jobs spun from social media or that require social media skills is on the rise, driven in large by the medium's popularity and pervasiveness, say market insiders, who add that this job segment is sustainable as knowledge and expertise of the platform increasingly becomes a prerequisite for working professionals.
Michelle Lim, COO of online job portal JobsCentral, told ZDNet Asia a "whole spread" of jobs has been created due to the emergence of social media. For instance, social media analysts are needed to measure an organization's social media equity and engagement with customers or that of its competitors.
Other job roles include social media marketing to promote brand awareness on such channels, business development for advertising and sales, community managers to build social communities, and social media editors to create push-content.
In an e-mail interview, Lim observed that demand for actual positions dedicated to social media is currently still "moderate", but this will change in the near future as more companies develop a clear social media mandate or deal specifically with social media for their business.
Social skills prerequisite in jobs
Especially in demand now are social media skills in a given profession, Lim noted, who explained that a marketing manager is still required to have the requisite functional skills and experience, but there is a clear advantage when a jobseeker possesses social media skills such as knowing how social media works and utilizing it for marketing purposes.
Dhiren Shantilal, Asia-Pacific senior vice president at recruitment agency Kelly Services, agreed: "[While] we have only an inkling of social media's ability to shape new job descriptions, it is now certain that some social skillsets, specifically in tandem with Internet and IT savvy, are crucial."
Anthony Ung, country manager of JobStreet, said demand for candidates with social media skills is "obvious" as the growth of social media, along with the growing number of users on the platforms, has resulted in a role expansion or additional skillset that working professionals are expected to have. For organizations to effectively use social media, it is important to assign employees with the diligence and also creativity to keep the platform up-to-date and connect with users, Ung noted in an e-mail.
He added that there are some 200 vacancies--mostly in marketing and software development--currently posted on the JobStreet portal that require skills related to social media.
He also noted that the rise of social media and increased user adoption in the market are creating new businesses and companies, which in turn will further accelerate demand for social media professionals.
Shantilal said the social media phenomenon has generated too much attention and too many followers to be just a passing fad. Hence, barring any game-changing technology appearing anytime soon, he said the social media jobs market seems sustainable mainly because many new job descriptions and responsibilities are now being created.
Damian Koh, social media manager at media agency MediaCom, believed most people wrongly perceive social media as a one-stop solution or fad which will gradually become irrelevant.
In an e-mail interview, Koh said social media does not exist in silos but as part of a company's overall marketing strategy, hence, it is unlikely to lose momentum anytime in the near future.
He also noted that social media is a multidisciplinary field that cuts across business functions. It will be on editorial calendars, across corporate divisions--from sales to marketing and public relations--and not just an external relationship platform but also an internal communication channel, he said.
Previous reports by ZDNet Asia highlighted that social media has in one way or another influenced and infiltrated various corporate functions, including customer relationship management, call centers, business intelligence, IT service management and job recruitment.
Collaboration, connection by social
Aside from familiarity with using social media platforms, Koh noted while there are no specialized skills involved, the "best practitioner" of social media is a collaborator who understands how to provide genuine and empowered experience via direct engagement or content creation to connect with customers.
Kelly's Shantial agreed, noting that social media professionals must have the ability to build communities and ensure consistent "stickiness" that continually draws in participants.
JobsCentral's Lim added that the "viral effect" of social media means the specialists in this segment must know how to react quickly and have "great EQ".
Charles Manuel Rattankumar, business unit executive for business analytics for IBM's Asean Software Group, noted that social analytics require key skills that are both technical and non-technical in order to learn about user needs and connect with users.
For instance, besides technical expertise such as mathematical modeling and statistical analysis, software developers need to know how to customize the applications around specific parameters such as language, Rattankumar explained.