When The Corporate Social Strategist Role Goes Away

One thing that surprises many, if the Corporate Social Strategist does their job well, it goes away.

Don’t believe me? Fine. But this isn’t just my opinion, it stems from research, In fact, I encourage you to first read the Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist report to see details from our 51 interviews, survey to 140, and analysts of 50 job descriptions and 50 linkedin profiles. Secondly, I’m a former social strategist on brand side at Hitachi, so it gives a unique perspective to my research.

Three Reasons Why the Corporate Social Strategist Role Goes Away:

Social Fades into the Background.First of all, social will become a natural way we communicate, the term ‘social’ finally goes away and we just talk about business again. They’ll help the entire company move to “Dandelion” (Multiple hub and spoke) and empower business units to use social. One perspective from Steve Rubel of Edelman reminded us that we don’t have email strategists today to direct us how to use these communication tools, we just do. I’d amend his sage perspective and point out that we actually still have professional emailers that manage the corporate newsletter and email marketing, as official company representatives and that’s likely to mirror on social side. Speaking with companies, most recognize that nearly 40% of the US workforce is to retire in next few years and the next generation of workers will be native to these tools, and in some cases, expect them to be in place.

Gets the Itch to Move to What’s Next. Secondly, we found that the corporate social strategist is an adopter of new technologies, and will continue to move to the next disruptive technology. Perhaps in previous roles they drove user experience, or web, or digital, and before that email programs. We know that the Cluetrain-waving evangelist in many corporations is being replaced by Groundswell-based business program managers. As our industry moves from adoption to optimization, a new type of person will handle the mantle of leadership, in fact, that’s why I just reported seeing the first $350-400k social strategist job to hit my desk.

They Get Promoted. Lastly, we know that the Social Strategist will ascend to new heights –beyond the department they’re in now. Today, most social strategy programs are lead by marketing and communications (read the above linked to report for data), as it was first impacting influence and communications. Yet there’s a great opportunity for the savvy strategist to span to other business units beyond marketing: customer support, product innovation, sales and field, and supply chain and partners. What’s this broader scope mean? We found that the social strategist will span the entire customer life cycle, elevating a few into the office of the Chief Customer Officer. The other route? We’ll see the Corporate Social Strategist move into a digital role, that looks at all technologies in an integrated approach, and they shed the social title.

While I’ve invested years watching these roles emerge, I’m here to tell you they’ll slowly fade into the background. Now if you’re already in this role (see this grand list I struggle maintaining), don’t fret, this will take years and maybe a decade to implement, as we know most companies don’t even have maturity in the marketing department (despite an average of about 3 years of formalized programs) –let alone the rest of the enterprise.

Some career tips for those in this job, or those that serve this role such as agency and technology vendors: Adorn a hat of enablement to get your business units to adopt these tools using your guidelines, and expand your scope beyond the department you report to to increase your career. I intend to continue to be here with you every step of the way during your exciting journey.