Social Media is Tool – Not a Profession


Share on LinkedIn

Recently I attended an evening networking session hosted by a social media monitoring company. I thought this would be a

Social Media Networking

perfect opportunity to meet some of the people at the sharp end of social media; I wanted to know what they did, how they saw their roles developing and what are the biggest challenges.

Now, I am no spring chicken and boast on my resume a vast array of experience and expertise i.e. I’m getting up there. Most of the other people attending this event were young, very young, bright, and energetic – most were not long out of college. I was astounded by the level of enthusiasm and unbridled conviction that social media was changing the world. I did feel a little like I stumbled into the wrong event – people were texting even while standing next to the person and the whole place looked like an iPhone commercial.

Maybe I was a somber mood, maybe I felt out of place but I started to assume the role of devil’s advocate. “Surely, the advent of the Internet was a much bigger cultural revolution than social media can ever be?” I asked. To my surprise, but possibly should not have been, very few people knew life before the Internet. They had never experienced life when it is was hard to research products and companies anonymously. “Do you think that AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy really seeded the concept of online communities, on which social has grown? – “What’s AOL, what’s Prodigy and Compuwhat?”.

I was going to explore the email “cc” option and how we all struggled in the early days with the “reply all” faux par, and if that makes us all a little more careful on social media. I learned that email was decidedly last decade.

Now that got me thinking, I am not against bright enthusiastic people taking hold of a technology and making it their own. My concern is because they “get it” and use it every opportunity, they and the organization are being set up to fail. Many people in social media are given extensive authority and responsibility to reach out to customers, talk to influencers, even make commitments on behalf of the company.

Social media is a tool – it is not a profession. We must learn how this tool fits in to, and drives, the goals of the organization. If that is by providing the best possible customer service, so be it. But the business goal is not “to do” social media, it is customer service and involves a lot more than monitoring Twitter and reaching out to handful of customers.

The experience made me wonder what the attendees be doing in four years time? The most common job function was ‘social media manager’ or “community Manager’. This is like a person describing their job as an e-mail responder. If social media is a tool, these are temporary jobs; social media will, and must be, integral to business functions and be part of customer service, marketing, and HR.

Just as aside I did enjoy myself and learned a lot from my discussions, I also felt a little old and grumpy and the music was way too loud. Mostly I enjoyed getting carded at the bar – it has been a while.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Terry Golesworthy
As the president of The Customer Respect Group for 7 years, I focus on the online experience of consumers. Online experience has always been bigger than the company website, from the response to email to integration to other offline channels. It has now grown to include social media.


  1. Great post Terry. Very interesting- i stumbled upon this randomly.

    I like the analogy to feeling like you were in an iPhone commercial as Gen Y’s are attached to their devices. Interested in who actually sponsored or held this event as I work for a social media monitoring SaaS company and we probably wouldn’t do an event like that nevertheless one of our biggest challenges is bridging the information gap between the business leaders who make the strategic decisions and the social media manager.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here