I was recently helping a friend scour some classifieds, and we noticed a ton of web-related job titles that were totally foreign to us. (Yes, I really saw Mommy-Blogger-in-Chief.) If you’ve looked for a job lately, you know what I’m talking about—these esoteric ads refer to vaguely familiar things like social networking, online branding, and usability. Since when is hanging out on Facebook considered a job?
With Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social sites’ constantly growing popularity, many companies have made it part—or all—of someone’s job to use them wisely. The Web 2.0 revolution has made social interaction and user-generated content a must for any organization trying build up a following. Think about today’s most popular sites—from YouTube to blogs to Wikipedia. Companies have had to figure out how to jump on the interactive bandwagon.
According to Forrester Research, a market research company, we’re in the early part of a new cycle of technology innovation and growth. The previous cycle, according to Forrester, brought us this little thing that anyone reading this article has heard of: the Internet. This new cycle will bring us even more growth in all those interactive Web 2.0 features.
Enter the huge onslaught of curious job titles and companies looking for young, Web-savvy folks to help them blog, tweet, Facebook, and virtually interact with their client base.
I talked with industry folks, scoured techie job sights, and found a ton of examples of these new jobs—some vaguely familiar, some high paying, and a whole lot that my college advisor definitely never heard of.
“Brands are using these new-found modes of communication to connect with consumers in a way that they’ve never been able to before now,” says Dayna Davis, a publicist in the consumer division of Denver-based public relations firm.
1. New Media Producer
As a former graduate student of journalism, this one holds a special place in my heart. Formerly relegated to a corner closet of newspapers and magazines (I am speaking from firsthand experience), multimedia content creators are now the head honchos in many traditional media outlets. Journalism students are now required to learn how to create interactive stories for an internet audience, and previously unknown newspapers, like the Vegas Sun, are gaining national renown thanks to creative Web site features. Stories must speak to our short-attention spanned, visually needy Web audience because that’s what gets readers to keep coming back to a site. Non-traditional media companies have begun using multimedia experts to promote their products, too—would the Snuggie have been anywhere near as popular without its viral YouTube video? I doubt it.
2. SEO Marketing Specialist
That’s search engine optimization, for any non-techies out there. As more and more companies realize how important it is to appear high up on the Google search, everyone’s trying to work those engines in a way that makes them appear closest to the top. How the heck do you do this? SEO specialists consider how search engines actually work and what people use them to search for—a hefty job considering Google gets around 2.7 billion searches each month. The specialist edits content and coding to embed specific keywords that help a sight pop up to the top when web surfers type in their search terms. These search engine-savvy workers create an organic (sort of) online presence that leads people to a sight sans advertisements. This is crucial since 78 percent of today’s consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14 percent trust advertisements, according to Socialnomics.com.
3. E-marketing Specialist
You know those newsletters that every single company, magazine, Web site, credit card company, and doctor’s office wants to send us every day, week, and month? These are carefully crafted by an e-marketing specialist to entice us back to their Web site with each email update—and thus increase their visitor flow on a regular basis. These e-marketers also produce content like product detail pages and category pages (according to one listing for a job at Amazon.com), like site promotions. They’ll also devise marketing plans and promotional opportunities that take place online because consistently drawing people in and increasing those traffic numbers is the holy grail of the Internet. Which leads me to the next job …
4. Advertising and Analytics Specialist
In the old days, an ad was an ad—its price was based on its size and its placement and that was pretty much that. The Internet has changed all of that. Surprised? I didn’t think so. Now advertisers pay Web sites based on how many people actually click on an ad. Advertisers decide which online location to place their flashy slogans on based on the number and type of visitors that hit that site each day. (See how those visitor numbers are crucial?) Sounds complicated to me, and I guess that’s why companies are now hiring advertising and analytics specialists to track where people visit and click—and why they’re doing it. This person compiles reports of every link on a Web site and analyzes how many visitors see each page, how long they stay there, and then suggests ways to better direct people to keep them on the site longer. It’s immediate and powerful feedback for writers and web publishers—if no one’s clicking past your homepage, you’ve got a serious problem.
5. User Experience Designer
I took a class in grad school about Web site design. And while I was absolutely horrible at the actual making of Web sites, the theory behind it all totally resonated with me. My professor—on the first day and every other class day during the semester—insisted that the key to a good Web site is that it should never make a user think. This doesn’t mean the content shouldn’t be interesting and thought provoking—it means that users should never, ever, ever be confused about how to navigate from page to page or how to find what they’re looking for. Why? Because there are millions of other sites a simple click away that won’t confuse them. And “not making me think” is a lot harder than it sounds—which is why user-experience designers are another newly in-demand job. These creative architects design and create flows and features within a site that meet users’ needs and make the online experience simple, rewarding, and enjoyable. Sort of like an architect (stairs leading to nowhere probably won’t lead to a rehire), they have to meld aesthetics and functionality in a way that makes people want to come back and click again and again.
6. Community Builder
Think about your favorite Web sites for a second. What do they all share? Whether it’s snarky comments about celebrities, newsletters and articles that inspire us, or user reviews of products and restaurants, they probably all share some aspect of community. I know mine do. And while they’re designed so that we don’t even think about it, well-planned Web communities are carefully constructed, tested, and monitored. Good community builders provide the momentum that we Internet surfers need to come together—which then creates opportunities for monetization and motivates us to keep coming back.
“Take Starbucks for example: they have over 300,000 followers on Twitter,” says Davis. “Is every one of those followers directly helping their bottom line? Who knows, but they have found a way to make their brand resonate and start a conversation with customers that couldn’t happen anywhere else.”
Whether it’s naturally incorporating partner advertising or making it easier for members to interact with each other, this is an often tedious, time consuming, and absolutely crucial part of creating a powerful online presence.
7. Social Media Specialists
Here’s a fact to throw out during your next happy hour—social networking has overtaken porn as the most popular online activity, according to Socialnomics.com. Many companies are hiring people whose sole purpose is to constantly update and engage people through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube.
“Any corporate site should have a blog to communicate with their current and prospective clients,” says Rick Wellington, a Web site consultant and former Web designer. “They can enhance an already existing online presence or they can create one where one doesn’t exist.”
Why? Blogs speak to that community thing. Take Adobe, for example. Sure, they make some cool software, but I probably wouldn’t regularly think of them as interesting. Yet they’ve created a great collection of employee blogs on their site—a lot of which are really fun to read. The company has put some real faces on its products by allowing them to talk about Adobe (they post tutorials and advice) along with other, more personal things that we all experience. Now I might be a little more drawn to their products next time I find myself software shopping.
As for Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites—the possibility there is hard for companies to deny. Here’s why: If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest (again according to Socialnomics’ extremely interesting YouTube video, Social Media Revolution). Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the populations of Ireland, Norway, and Panama. Clearly, if done right, these sites have the power to harness and speak to massive amounts of people.
The Web hasn’t just revolutionized how we work, it’s created a slew of entirely new opportunities. And now, more than ever, we’re in need of those. Plus, what’s not fun about discussing your promotion to Chief Executive Twitterer, Senior Hacker, or LinkedIn Liaison at this year’s holiday party?