How fragmentation has changed attitudes on social media

When Sara Wildman joined California-based PR firm Segal Communications as a social media manager in the summer of 2020, she was tasked with creating a social media plan for a single client across Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Most of the time, the client needed two to three stills a week through these channels. Soon those requests grew from a single client to four clients and then to six.

“I quickly realized I needed to set up systems, protocols, and build a team to keep up with the ever-increasing demands,” Wildman said in an email. Her agency has worked with the likes of jewelry company Shane Co., Nurx Birth Control and Johnny Donuts.

For the 28-year-old social media executive, those demands weren’t just limited to developing social media best practices. This included maintaining the brand’s social media channels, monitoring community engagement and maintaining a constant flow of content for each brand – all of which has become increasingly difficult in an increasingly fragmented social media landscape.

We’ve lost the simplicity that once was [on social].

Sara Wildman, Social Media Manager, Segal Communications

“The social media landscape has changed drastically in the last five years, especially from a brand perspective,” said Wildman. “In my opinion, we have lost the simplicity of yesteryear [on social].”

To keep up with content creation, the social media manager hired a contractor and a full-time employee to shoot and edit content, allowing Wildman to “get out of the weeds and focus on marketing our agency to potential new business.” can”.

Wildman’s posting schedule has grown from two to three stills a week on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter three years ago to two to three video pieces of content on those platforms, in addition to one to two posts a week on TikTok or Reels — given the short video boom

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For Wildman and many other social media executives, the explosion of the social media landscape has expanded their role beyond posting relatable images and witty text on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to creating a unified brand identity on a variety of social -Media platforms with a constant stream of content and data analysis.

Social media has been widely embraced as the guiding light of digital advertising, and as such is integrated into every stage of an agency’s digital marketing and advertising workflow, executives say. That’s because people are spending more time on social media (an average of two hours and 28 minutes a day, according to the Hootsuite Social Media Management Platform) and marketers are expected to spend more than $71 billion to get ahead of them this year consist. per report by eMarketer. In other words, social media teams have a lot to manage.

“The current multichannel landscape is one of the biggest challenges brands face when building a solid digital presence,” said Maira Genovese, founder and president of digital marketing agency MG Empower, in an email.

Not only, added Genovese, because the social media platforms themselves are constantly evolving, like the launch of Reels on Instagram or Reddit’s improved ad infrastructure. But also because of the uptick in new platforms coming out with their own unique product features, like BeReal’s dual camera feature or TikTok’s scrolling short videos.

“[This] dynamic is forcing marketers and marketing agencies to adapt to a more integrated way of working that is flexible in response to changing platform and consumer behaviors,” said Genovese.

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The new social media resume

According to the eight agency executives Digiday spoke to for this story, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to hire, staff, and train internal social media teams. This is especially true in a fragmented social media landscape.

“As the world of social and digital media changes literally every day, agency contracts and agency models have not kept pace,” said Courtney Berry, managing director of digital agency Barbarian. “What we found is that we need to be much more flexible and fluid for our customers.”

The final result

According to eight agency leaders, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to hire, staff, and train internal social media teams.

These contracts have historically been based on deliverables, skills and profiles, per Berry. Now they need to be more responsive as platforms keep changing their product offerings while audiences fluctuate in the way they use each platform.

To that end, Barbarian recently created an in-house collective of developers able to keep up with the pace of change in social media and adapt accordingly over time.

Similarly, agency Beekman Social has doubled in size over the past year, hiring a mix of 45 full-time employees and long-term freelancers for flexibility, according to Jeffrey Tousey, the agency’s founder and CEO.

With the advent of video-first platforms and therefore video-first strategies, influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy is training all employees to be proficient in both video capture and editing.

“We’re seeing customers requesting more and more video content than ever before. So this is a big investment for us,” said Edward East, founder of Billion Dollar Boy, citing the rise of TikTok and its competitors like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.

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Rather than hiring one person per platform, like a chief TikTok officer or meta-strategist, digital agency MG Empower hires based on a candidate’s knowledge of current platforms and their ability to advance in the same way social media platforms do .

“Instead of organizing the number of employees per platform, we organize our business based on core competencies,” Genovese of MG Empower said in an email. “We understand that the best way to thrive in such a diverse digital world is to enable multidisciplinary teams in an integrated way.”

The future of social is…

The future of social media management is complicated, experts say. Given the fragmentation, some agencies will seek to hire GPs who are platform agnostic and have general knowledge of each platform, while others will seek specialists to work platform by platform.

“Inevitably, we lean on people’s strengths and try to make sure we have a solid knowledge base and then some level of specialization,” Brendan Gahan, Mekanism’s chief social officer, said in an email. “This can be done at the strategy, platform, and/or content creation level.”

However, experts say the future of social media management is embedded in every aspect of digital advertising. This ranges from creative and content creation to media planning and data analysis.

“In the early stages of social media, strategists would throw ideas at the wall and hope something would stick and work well,” said Tousey of Beekman Social. “Today, the best strategists have holistic skills that allow them to create a strategy that considers a brand’s entire digital ecosystem.”