The social media market is heating up quickly. Here’s the 4 indicators I see:
1. Recruiters abound
One of our team has had four recruitment callers in two weeks. One directly from a substantial traditional agency with a name your nan would recognise even though you nan doesn’t know agency land, two from ‘headhunters’ and I can’t remember where the other was from – a start-up agency abroad perhaps. Another of our team (and board) had a call last week. Some of our friends in the industry are finding that their needs for good people in this area exceed the available supply they can find.
As a side note, on this front I’m not personally fussed about our team getting calls. It’s distracting for them, but also motivating (I imagine). I can never understand it when my clever and hardworking agency MD/founder peers bust a gut when someone from their team gets poached. I’m hardly above getting emotional about business (quite the opposite), but I always reckon that all an employer/manager can do is look after their people. What they do is up to them :)
So the recruitment space is heating up.
2. Mergers & Acquisitions are poised
The whole agency space is warming up. The guys doing social media agencies to sell out to the established agency ecosystem will probably succeed – I know personally and directly that big agencies and groups are actively opening conversations with the new boutique firms. The professional intermediaries like Results and Pembridge seem to be fairly sanguine and patient about the agency M&A market as a whole at the moment but are starting to build their networks and engagement with the new social media thing. I guess for those on the fence at corporate finance and deal-making advisory firms the Headshift deal will have catalysed that.
3. MeasurementCamp attendees have evolved
A different sort of input: a human one! :) Yay for humans.
When I started MeasurementCamp with the help of the nascent social media community about 18 months ago it was the pioneers with a lower case ‘P’ – the lovely smart and down to earth writers/talkers/thinkers that are interested by the new and who naturally were investing their time investigating new interesting stuff. Today we have more of a blend which still includes the super-thinker hardcore people but the archetypal (though thankfully we still have lots of diversity) MeasurementCamper is younger, much more likely to be part of an agency, and is working on live social media projects. The market exists. And thank the lawds, there’s some REAL talent there. Even just last week at MeasurementCamp London there were three or four new very smart young agency people in attendance. I predict inflated salaries and big ‘welcome to traditional agencyland – now socialmediafy the world, by tomorrow please’ jobs for them all.
4. Clients are hiring
This is great news I reckon. Perhaps the best bit of all for all of the real people in the world. At NixonMcInnes we try hard to not build relationships with our clients based on dependency but prefer to help our clients build their own capabilities to do the stuff they need to do. (We will do stuff for them – but over time we prefer that they learn to do it for themselves). And so we have helped in some way BMW, Channel 4 and now one of our other clients (I don’t think I am able to name them just yet) shape a role and/or find a person that can come on board and be part of the internal revolution inside client organisations to embrace and harness the social web. Good good!
So what next?
I try to stay away from predictions but if I’d say it’s pretty obvious what happens next:
- Salaries will go up bubbliciously for the few genuinely capable social media professionals (regardless of their flavour and original background) for a while until supply starts to meet demand
- Some of these people will end up in jobs they aren’t yet ready for – but that’s OK, it’s called ‘learning by doing’!
- M&A will kick off in a big way in 2010, with big agencies buying small social media agencies for the next two or three years
- Eventually everything in the agency ecosystem and in client communications and engagement will be normalised and go back to everyday-abnormal
Enjoy the ride between now and then. We plan to :P