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A couple of weeks ago at SoCon14, @nickjayres made what I thought was a very interesting comment about the current (and future) landscape of the social media industry:

"Social media is no longer a vertical. It's a horizontal."

For the last few years, social media responsibilities have fallen into the hands of specialists (like myself) who know the ins and outs of each platform, best practices and are acutely aware of new algorithm changes and how they could affect business objectives.

Now, you have companies that have social media implemented beyond a "social media team." Delta and IHG have both taken customer service representatives and trained them on social media, in lieu of transforming social media specialists into customer service reps. CEOs are now jumping into brand-related discussions on Twitter. Marketing  and PR obviously play big roles in the space. Soon you could find HR more in the social space measuring employee happiness in addition to an accountant/controller diving into social to track any payments from a social platform.

Social media won't be a pure marketing play. It'll be the connective tissue of businesses.

In the last five years, I've seen social media put on its "big kid pants" and grow up to be a legitimate piece of business acumen. If we've seen this much change in five years, how much more change will we see in the next five years?

A former Engauge coworker of mine Lindsey Howard (@geeklindsay) raised the same question on her blog this past fall. I thought it may be worth bringing up again here as well.

Here's what I'd love to hear from you:

  1. Will social media remain a specialist position for companies and/or agencies in five years?

  2. What roles do you see today's social strategists playing in tomorrow's company?

Keep in mind, I'm thinking about this in terms of very forward thinking organizations, not ones that are just now starting to play catch up in the digital space. Feel free to see where previous discussions have netted out on this topic. 

What say you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!