When your pivot your business, don’t forget to take care of your talent, too.

Social media and audience development veterans will remember the “pivot-to-video” that media companies made a few years ago when Facebook Video was driving massive views when the company was focused on growing that platform.  Those views, of course, dried up when Facebook turned off the spout (and seemingly, may have not been real in the first place), and most of that talent that was onboarded during this boom was sent on their way in media reorgs and layoffs.  

When considering the “pivot to audio” that many brands and media companies are considering (podcasts, Clubhouse, audiobooks) and are in the middle of right now, the same thing will likely happen.  As “quality” and best practices in the space mature, most of these projects will fail. And as much as we want to think of “pivot-to-video” as a cautionary tale, in the world of adaptive media, the real victims are often the talent left behind.

This specialized talent that is wasted when the “shiny toy” matures and the business models for it do as well is a massive brain drain of talent that often isn’t considered as the digital transformation of media continues.

When we talked about this topic with the lens of looking at social media professionals at SXSW 2016, when social media was graduating from “shiny toy” to pivotal business platform, we started to see this, too.

When we asked professionals in the space about their career prospects, the concerns were clear. Many of these folks top out and stagnate.  Many more are sent on their way to start the cycle over again when the next “shiny toy” comes along as their “non-traditional” talents don’t have a clear org fit. It happened again with video talent post “pivot-to-video” again, and likely will happen again post “pivot-to-audio”.

What a shame.

The real loss is this type of talent usually has skills that fit in other ways into a org, it just requires a new way of thinking to mold, train and flex them to pivot in to positions that have longer shelf life (and future business benefit).  In this time of adaptive hybrid work models, remote first hiring processes and new styles of culture, this talent my be even more available than usual (especially if you’re willing to look nation or worldwide)

In my opinion, if your company can be the type of org that can do that, you will will be one step ahead of your competitors in innovation, awareness and brand perception.

Your social / emerging media folks are future leaders.  Give them a chance to grow.

Signed,

A reformed social media / community executive who is loving life as a Product / Portfolio Manager.  🙂

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