The Boston Social-Media Shake-Out has Arrived

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.

Column, Social Media, , , Permalink

7 Responses to The Boston Social-Media Shake-Out has Arrived

  1. Kelley Kassa says:

    I completely agree Jeff! I was speaking with someone yesterday who said he has someone who can Tweet, but she can’t develop a content/social media strategy. That’s probably not uncommon.

  2. I liken it to when the web was new. Anyone who knew a bit of HTML could charge outrageous fees or was hired for at an inflated salary. As with any supply and demand situation people started flooding the market and driving the price down as supply began to catch up to demand.

    Just as the best web dev shop can still charge big money to create a website so too can the best social talent. The days of someone who can has used Twitter for a few weeks getting paid $50/hr to tweet on behalf of a brand are drawing to an end.

  3. Excellent post, Jeff. Tech skills will never trump ability to think strategically and build face to face relationships!

  4. Companies are realizing that while ‘Social’ is a (relatively) new channel and set of tools and capabilities, it makes little sense to treat it as ‘separate’ or ‘special’ just because it’s new.

    Social strategy needs to fit within the context of a broader market- and customer-centric business strategy – and the best opportunities going forward will be for those who are capable of doing that. At the same time, since so much of Social is customer-facing, companies are also realizing that it is core and belongs ‘inside’ the organization – so yes the market for 3rd party gurus, ninjas and the like is evaporating – and will continue to do so while companies fill their needs internally.

    I don’t really think any of this is specific to Boston or that the air around here is particularly ‘rarified’. It’s happening everywhere – as you say, social is going mainstream.
    Chris Selland´s last [type] .."Let’s be clear – a Twitter that functions as an open platform charging folks for API usage and…"

  5. I think you are right…at the enterprise level, there’s definitely a shift to bring the work in house, and not just anyone with a social media profile can apply.

    Yet, it’s a little disengenuous to say that the market for gurus, ninja’s, and the like is evaporating…check Elance, oDesk, or Craigslist. The demand is still there, just not amongst the Fortune 1000 types.
    Justin Whitaker´s last [type] .."Rela­tion­ships are an essen­tial part of win­ning an oppor­tu­ni­ty. They are also the biggest part…"

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