Forget Social Strategists, Project Managers Are In The Money

There has been an unexpected explosion in the unsexiest of roles to hit the social space — online project manager.

There has been an unexpected explosion in the unsexiest of roles to hit the social space — online project manager. While many “social” folks are all razzle dazzle, they’re apparently dropping the ball, and project or traffic managers and all-around organized folks are benefitting from the chaos these “growth mavericks” have created.

And guess what else? Now is the time to get in on the career track before the next hot thing comes along.

Thank the Growth Hackers

Growth hacker” was/is the person you want to be (or be working for) when it comes to social. A combination of a coder and marketer, growth hackers approach the question of how to attract customers from a different angle than traditional marketers do. They basically throw traditional tactics in the air and read them like tea leaves whenever they fall.

Instead of taking a traditional marketing approach, which by design interrupts a potential customer’s day – growth hacking aims to integrate the message seamlessly into the fabric of a person’s day. It’s an exercise in creative chaos.

And smart people have realized that while growth hacking is all well and good, there needs to be someone responsible watching the farm, so to speak. That someone is the project manager.

Responsible Adults

So what do these responsible adults look like in the workplace? There’s an Online Project Management Guide by Wrike that sums up the role of the project manager nicely (paraphrased a bit below). It’s “a combination of monitoring a hundred moving parts, shepherding every task through the right process, and mitigating problems and risks — all while managing the expectations of your stakeholders and holding off the inevitable scope creep.” It’s basically a business function that can be the stuff of nightmares for a ‘creative,’ as it focuses specifically on:

  • Methodology. Believe it or not, there’s more than one project management methodology. Depending on your style and the nature of the project you may choose a sequential, process or value-based framework.
  • Team Preparation. One of the most important tasks of the project manager is melding a team into a cohesive unit. Preparing the team to succeed ahead of a large project is key. As is defining roles.
  • Project Tools. A team is only as good as its tools. A good project manager provides her team with the technology it needs to complete the project and is constantly on the lookout for better ways.
  • Collaboration Tips. A project manager must be a masterful collaboration coordinator, capable of streamlining internal and external interactions. And this is never easy when working with creatives!

And here’s where you need to worry, my social savant lovelies: If these organized folks are pros in all of that, what’s left for social media managers to do? Not much. The threat to your job security is very real. Here’s why:

Down the Road

John Rampton, a serial entrepreneur and online influencer, shared his thoughts after witnessing tons of growth in this space:

The rise of the project manager is likely bad news for the future of social media managers. Social has always been a hard sell and that isn’t going to change. Clients want great ideas and out-of-the-ordinary thinking, but they also want to be sure you hit your deadlines.

And being socially savvy isn’t quite so special anymore. Even if you are an entirely original thinker possessing oodles of social expertise, social is second nature to most folks these days, and this is certainly true of the next generation. Social is increasingly becoming part of everyone’s job. And a job that belongs to everyone (like responding to email) is specific to no one.

Tomorrow’s social media mavericks will have to be a little less flash and lot more substance – and that’s probably a good thing.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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