In the last few days I have engaged a dispersed but rich conversation on the broad subject of Social Media professions; the seed of the discussions were two media pieces, one on Fortune and the other is a research conducted on LinkedIn about the inflation of Social Media related job titles.
I joked I hope I don’t become braindead enough to self define myself in any of these loathed job titles, but this is but the newest iterations of an age-old issue: how credible is a self claim to be a “funny” or “cool” person?
Qualifications such as these can only bestowed by the wisdom of the crowds, either you are or you are not, but the mere fact you say you are actually says the opposite.
But the discussion at stake is much bigger.
A lot of us used to be (and still are) Communications professionals: we were the custodians of privileged relationships and belonged to the initiated priesthood of those who understood how Communications works.
We brokered these relationship and knowledge of the ritual to earn a living from the uninitiated, unwashed masses.
The advent of Social Media has ripped apart this cosy positioning: the privileged contacts do not matter that much anymore and the ritual has changed and keeps changing faster and faster.
Most importantly, People don’t care to speak with Spokespersons: they’re talking to the Brand, through the individuals who embody a certain aspect of the Brand: it will be a Salesman when we want to buy something, a Customer Service rep when we need help with our purchase, the CEO when we object to a Brand societal stance.
A few days go, Guido Barilla had to issue a a public, humiliating apology when his Brand was targeted by massive boycott action because of his homophobic statements during a national radio interview:
Social Media CANNOT be delegated: our stakeholder simply won’t accept any of this crap and will address directly their counterpart. Communications professionals have become totally irrelevant.
The Social Media revolution within the Enterprise means the Emperor’s clothes have been revealed and there is no going back.
Today a lot of distinguished professionals are meeting in Prague at the WCF Event and Paul Holmes is speaking about the future of their profession (which I do not regard as mine anymore), and I deeply regret not being there to participate in the discussion.
So is there a transformational future for the people like I was? Of course, there is: the more you practice Social Media, the more you understand how bits and pieces of the ritual are still useful; timing is as important as ever. Respect rules. Listening before you speak is even more important.
However, the Communicator profession must become much more of a coach and advisor and less that of a practitioner: no Press Officer can ever morph into a Social Media Manager, simply because the latter profession does not exist. everybody is a Social Media Manager.
The question is whether we, as a profession, can become Social Media Coaches.