Answer: The past few years have been a boom time for early adopters of Social Media (SM) who could take advantage of a bubble in hiring. There have been too few professionals to fill the many newly created jobs, primarily on the consulting side initially. In this competitive space, agencies and companies wanted most to hire talented implementers below the leadership (strategic) level. Agencies, in order to compete as SM gurus, needed to be as leading edge as possible in offering social media services and solutions to increase the effectiveness of their messaging.
For the Social Media Professionals who loved the pace and lack of structure (the field was so new there were no right or wrong ways to define what needed to be done) this was the ideal time to be in the market. These younger professionals were highly sought after. Almost as soon as they accepted one job, they were contacted to consider another interesting assignment. While the pace now is not as frantic as it was originally, the demand for talent continues.
To those working in SM, being pursued for new opportunities, without starting a job search, has been the norm. Personally, immersed in a virtual world where curiosity could be satisfied within a matter of minutes, where a question could be answered in seconds, set the framework for their professional behavior. The emphasis was on the “Now”.
There were no worries about the long term and that affected the values they brought to decisions about staying in their current job or accepting another more interesting one. I’m not using the word career because that implies future or longer-term thinking. That simply was and is not a concern.
The only questions were about: how interesting is the assignment? Do I like the (potentially new) environment and how much more money does it pay? (Note focus on salary—no interest in longer term benefits.) There was no worry about future risk (e.g. job being eliminated or company failing) because they most likely would have moved on by then.
In this competitive space, agencies and companies wanted most to hire talented implementers below the leadership (strategic) level. Agencies, in order to compete as SM gurus, needed to be as leading edge as possible in offering social media “tools,” services and “how to” solutions. This made complete sense to Millennials who were fully engaged in experimenting with these new options. Work was play and play was work. Early adopters are about learning to use new tools and their capabilities.
The value these talented professionals bring is about implementation; it is not about content. Managerial capabilities are not part of the jobs for the early adopters that Millennials were (and still are) being recruited to fill.
The judgment and capability to adapt communications campaigns to take advantage of SM tools are critical at the mid-levels and ultimately impact the highest levels of an organization. The Millennials with the SM expertise needed for this role were not skilled in messaging and longer-term planning and strategy.