A number of reports have recently warned of substantial transformations in the future of work, describing the role of technology in fast-tracking ‘digital disruption’ and automation, positioning these as threats to professional and service industry work forces. Organisations are a rich source of information on the co-evolution of social media platforms and practices. The analysis presented in this article shows signs of structural shifts and support for new professional roles that manage social media participation and look to capitalize on affordances, such as data extraction and analytics and continuous social connectivity.
This article has examined how organisations incorporate social media into their operations and negotiate new professional roles. The jobs data and interviews show that a diverse range of organisations are seeking to incorporate social media into their operations, and capitalise on new affordances for data extraction and analytics and 24/7 community engagement.
Social media platforms are associated with significant digital transformations but also carry some uncertainty for organisations seeking to capitalise on their affordances while developing new professional roles. This article explores the characteristics and contexts of social media work and the different approaches of organisations as they enter a second wave of application, moving beyond participation to data extraction within conditions of continuous connectivity and community management. The article uses hybrid methods: analyzing job market data and in-depth interviews with 18 social media strategists and workers from 13 different organisations. The analysis is informed by critical accounts of digital labor, and emphasizes organisations’ strategic search for new affordances such as analytics that extract additional value from carefully managed communities. The findings reveal how social media work has become diffused across industries, and is understood ‘ecologically’, as a capability that operates right across organisations within a dynamic and changing media environment.
Social media work: reshaping organisational communications, extracting digital value
First Published March 1, 2017
From Media International Australia