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We recently had a fascinating conversation with a client where we landed on a rarely thought of, but quite fundamental question: if we’re hiring social media staff or specialists to help us navigate this new age of business, what does this mean for our broader workforce? What skills will we need to be across the business to be competitive in 5-10 years’ time?

It was one of those questions that made us assess our own position and view on the role of social for organisations. It challenged us to really consider where the best and most valuable opportunities lie for businesses, which we love.

Why you should reconsider workforce planning with social.

First let me say, I completely recognise this is neither a one-size-fits-all or quick fix approach. I do not believe business-as-usual should sit on hold while you assess the impact of shifting customer culture, digital technology and transformation, and industry disruption on your next customer service manager hire…

But industry, by and large, still believes the solution to these challenges lies in the form of social media marketing specialists. A quick and dirty search reveals 2,464 social media jobs on offer in Australia today. Of which, 44% fall within Marketing & Communications and a further 7% are Advertising, Arts & Media.

Australian Social Media Jobs - March 2017
Dig deeper, and it seems organisations are willing to throw good money at these people as well. One current agency Senior Social Strategist role has a $140,000 price tag, while one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds is willing to part with $120,000-150,000 for a Social Media & Content Manager.

Significant investments when you consider 88% of marketers can’t measure return on investment for social media activities. Would you want to build a team of 10 skilled social staff as your customers’ needs increase with a $1+ million staffing cost without knowing where the returns will come from?

This recent client conversation helped reaffirm where we believe the opportunity lies.

How should organisations hire ‘social talent’?

We are helping our client adopt a whole-of-business approach to social capabilities building. In practical terms, we’re uncovering opportunities across the business where social data, technologies and operational processes will deliver commercial benefits. In doing so, rather than investing based on industry trends and available channels, we’re pursuing initiatives that provide greatest value based on existing business strategy.

We’ve revealed opportunities across a range of business units, and are now working with individual teams to determine how these initiatives can complement existing programs of work. We’ve designed a op model roadmap that forces (nicely, of course) the organisation to commit to whole-of-business progress and capabilities building. Because skills and initiatives should not sit within one social team. This simply creates a two-speed environment of haves and have-nots internally, leading to blockages, frustration, risk and (ultimately) poor customer experience. 

So our client is considering the role of social data, technologies and operational processes to improve the way all teams perform. And the identifiable qualities they’ll need to build or buy to ensure they outperform competitors in meeting and exceeding expectations in the customer race.

Consider where your organisation could benefit most from such an investment and start there. Will Sales benefit from increased prospect data or knowledge of key lifestage events? Will Service improve NPS by accommodating a range of service channels and having a richer understanding of customer context? Will HR encourage more meaningful engagement and contributions from staff through building self-directed communities?

‘Social’ doesn’t even need to be part of role titles. Focus on the valuable function being performed, as the tools will always change in time.

Build capabilities where they are needed by your business and customers, not just where industry has built them to date. This is the opportunity for social capabilities to improve business performance, and it’s encouraging to know individual organisations are already on the journey.

Author: Roger Christie

Roger Christie is Founder and Managing Director of Propel. He understands the importance and value of a customer-centric approach to business, and has worked with a range of public and private sector organisations to help them leverage data, technology and operational change to deliver practical business solutions. Over the past decade, Roger has advised boards and executive teams across government departments and ASX top ten corporations, and understands the challenges facing organisations looking to excel and remain viable in an increasingly competitive, discerning marketplace. You can connect with Roger on LinkedIn and Twitter, and follow his thoughts on Medium.

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