We Will See Fewer “Head of Social Media” Roles in 2013

by Jeremy Goldman on Dec 31, 2012
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Social Fresh 2013 Social Media Predictions: 7/10

Want to be Head of Social Media for a brand you admire?


As time passes, that’s going to be increasingly unlikely to happen.

Why’s that? Simple: In 2013, organizations will shift away from hiring “Global Director of Social Media”-like roles.

A few months ago, Leslie Stevens-Huffman outlined five tech roles on the endangered list, including system administrators, data center specialists, and more. Head of Social Media would be an appropriate name to add to that list for a number of reasons.

To be clear, the reason why we’ll see less Head of Social Media positions is because social media is becoming increasingly important, not less.

Social media holds so much potential for companies that they simply can’t afford to silo its usage. Where would companies be if we had kept telephone usage in a silo, as opposed to leveraging its benefits across the organization?

Increasingly, companies are figuring out that many departments and functions can benefit from social media, from product development to retail marketing to public relations, and more. Because of that, you’re going to be more likely to see individuals rise to leadership roles in those departments that have experience leveraging social media to reach their departmental objectives.

More “social-centric” roles will begin to show up in departments across the organizations, leading to an increasingly non-centralized approach to corporate social media usage.

While we see this shift already beginning, it’s still pretty common to see a director of social media position listed online. In fact, a search on Indeed for “Director + ‘Social Media’” around New York, NY just presented me with 908 roles.

In 2013, the roles that show up for such a search will evolve.  Depending on the size of the organization, you may see more roles along the lines of Director of Social Media Excellence. Roles of this nature which will hold a thought leadership position in the organization, and will be responsible for establishing guidelines for how departments ought to engage on social platforms, and providing guidance on what to avoid. These roles will also be responsible for coordinating across departments, serving as a referee between different parts of the organization

Sounds glamorous?

It shouldn’t.

Once numerous departments start leveraging social media to better achieve their KPIs, they shouldn’t need long-term help from the global social media role. In fact, the better these Director of Social Media Excellence do in their roles, the quicker they’ll render themselves obsolete.

At this year’s annual Gartner Symposium, the company stressed how the new reality of mobile, social, and cloud will change how we work, and exactly what roles companies will need. Gartner Senior Vice President and head of research Peter Sondergaard predicted that IT infrastructures will become “obsolete.” Given the change in technologies easily available across organizations, IT departments may simple become middlemen and bottlenecks between departments and what they need to achieve. Once organizations have headcount using social media across multiple departments, will they really need as many global directors of social media to bottleneck progress? Probably not.

Post Author

Social Media Executive, Author, and Speaker. Currently Managing Director at the Firebrand Group. Read more at jeremygoldman.com....

  • Very insightful piece. Nice Work!

  • Your idea sounds like it would be complete chaos having 10 different departments wrestling with the same social media and no one to be the voice of guidance. My prediction would be the exact opposite.

  • I completely agree with your prediction – but not sure we’ll get there so fast in 2013. The more people that are fully trained, understand, and practice social media in an organization the better. But as you point out, you still need someone in the middle watching everything that is going on and guiding the enterprise forward. For some organizations this will be one person, for some it is a full Center of Excellence made of multiple individuals. Overall will be an interesting trend to watch.

  • There are some good points here. The way organizations use social media is evolving right now, and will continue to evolve into 2013 and beyond. For the immediate future though, I do think social media managers, and heads of social media, will still be essential to most brands. If a company has too many social media outlets, customers and clients get confused. I do see it expanding, but I think it still needs to be centralized to some degree.

  • Absolutely. If it’s not centralized it’s just chaos.

  • 900 director positions in NYC alone? we don’t have that many openings in all of So. Ca. though we should have more.

  • Agree that social media is EVERYONE’s responsibility. Agree that placing social media in a silo does not encourage the right behavior. But a centralized function is necessary to (a) establish and manage governance, processes, and risk management and (b) drive constantly evolving best practices. The latter may be absorbed into the ‘core’ functions around the org as we move past the incubation period of social, but there will always be a need for the former.

  • so instead of “Director of Social Media,” we’ll see “Director of Social Media Excellence.” Should help Vistaprint.

  • Steve Manning

    You see blog posts like this from time to time begging for attention by proclaiming that people’s livelihoods are threatened. This type of thinking is called reasoning from the specific to the general. In other words, writer observes a handful of companies that have had some success in integrating social throughout the organization, therefore many or most companies have figured social out, therefore all those companies’ departments can do it on their own, therefore social media directors are obsolete. Even if that were true, if the world worked that way companies would no longer have communications directors of any kind — print, video, intranet — all those positions would be obsolete because the departments can do it themselves and don’t need any guidance any more. The idea falls apart after about a millisecond of examination.