The Boston Social-Media Shake-Out has Arrived

August 5, 2012

Boston is considered by many to be one of the leading technology and social media communities in the world. Held in a similar light are San Fran, Austin, New York and DC. But it’s rarified air…and now that air is changing. The city is still a leader in the realm of social, but the people doing the real work are defining themselves and the industry.’

From what I’ve seen and experienced over the past eight to ten months, Boston has grown past its initial infatuation with social to the point where the tools used to communicate are now mainstream – at least on an individual level. It’s nearly impossible to find folks who haven’t heard of Twitter, aren’t on Facebook and who don’t ‘Google’ something with regularity.

What this means is that the social-media gurus are now having to prove their worth and skill. No longer are smart companies hiring anyone who can Tweet. They want someone with experience AND social media credibility and chops. Company HR departments have matured (read “WOKEN UP”) to where it’s not cost-effective to hire a warm body just because they know how to use BufferApp. Or give a contract to anyone who knows how to use Eventbrite and hold parties. Firms are now focused on real communication and their measuring stick is their past conversations.

In essence, the social pros who are getting hired are skilled in content, community management and training. For positions outside of social, companies now know they can adopt the NFL-Draft method of staffing and hire the best athlete for their team. Someone who speaks a few languages, knows marketing principles, has impeccable grammar and was socially adept during college has a far better chance than the guy who somehow has 20,000 followers and talks constantly in buzzwords like engagement and tools like Klout.

As people have been saying for years, me included, the shake-out has arrived. Those of us with real content experience, business skills and solid connections in the traditional world are in stable, good-paying, longterm postions. The folks who wear Plurk shirts to business meetings will be relegated to jockeying for free drinks and finger food at the next Tweetup, while the social media pros will be at events that don’t show up on any calendar, keynoting at conferences around the world, or working to create the next useful app behind closed and well-funded doors.

The days of free are coming to a close. If you’ve got the skills and drive, get yourself a job now before that last bacon-wrapped scallop is gone from the free [EDITED FOR SPELLING – thx to Steve Garfield] hors d’oeuvre table at some technology meetup.

Have you seen the same thing? Am I off base? Would love to hear your take.

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