While Twitter seems a bit like the Wild West these days with lots of unknowns and rumors of potential riches, it may hold promise for people in unexpected ways: new jobs. With around 13 million current users (and a projected billion, as predicted by the unauthorized leaking of proprietary Twitter corporate documents), Twitter promises free access to a market ripe for a constant stream of new, value-added information on a minute-by-minute basis — that we know.
“It’s a well known fact that affiliate marketers and people in direct marketing are using Twitter to leverage traffic and make sales,” says vice president of DaVinci Institute, Deb Frey, who specializes in nontraditional marketing.
What we didn’t expect was that heightened traffic and sales would bring a proliferation of job titles and opportunities that have never existed before, a significant development especially when you compare job creation – currently a White House priority — in social media with the job destruction in other industries, like GM’s 50,000 jobs lost. On Indeed.com, a job aggregator, there are more than 7,000 jobs currently posted with the words “social media” in the description and more than 1,000 of them pay at least $110,000 per year.
Major global brands like Coke and Pepsi now have directors of social media, six-figure jobs centered on watching who is saying what about their brands, and leveraging that information for research, new product ideas and heightened customer service. Mid-tier companies are also hiring VPs and directors, as well as in-the-trenches Twitter “Watchers.”
“Some companies like Dell and Comcast have people watching for keywords like ‘Comcast’ or ‘Dell’, and reply to those tweets,” says Frey. “They manage their online reputation in this manner.”
For example, during Comcast outages, customers who voice concern, complaints or questions are responded with a personal message from @comcastcares within minutes. The greater the traffic, the larger the team will need to be to handle the service flow, as well as the information gathering opportunities.
Frey also points to small businesses, one in particular Moonfruit, who upped its followers from 400 to 47,000 in a few days by giving away an iPod/laptop daily for seven days in a contest that asked followers to come up with the catchiest phrase of the day using their name. Its sales tripled and paying customers rose by 20%. Any company that’s increasing its visibility exponentially will eventually need more manpower to handle volume as well as look at Twitter as a unique business stream.
Another paradigm breaker is Michael van Poppel, just 19, who compiles all the breaking news (through RSS feeds and other media sources) as it happens during the day and feeds it to his Twitter account, Breakingnews, Frey says. He makes money through affiliate marketing and textlink ads on his Web site. He’s gained more than 877,000 followers and plans to have an iPhone app out by next month, he adds, all by organizing information what’s already out there. He’s carving a niche for himself out of content hunters that haven’t been on the radar before.
There are also those people with no products to sell or information to share. These are the growing band of tweeting ghostwriters, a new “profession” that didn’t exist before Twitter. These people who simply tweet for those with something to say but no time to tweet it. Frey says they leverage writing, PR and social networking savvy to ghost-tweet for companies who need people to man their feeds. Think celebrities who just want their fans to keep them in mind, start-ups looking for buzz and more.
Even though so much is still unknown about Twitter, it’s evolving so quickly that new uses, new opportunities, and even a whole host of new professions are popping up to serve the platform. Although we may not entirely know how to leverage the tool’s monetary opportunities, for people with transferrable skills and entrepreneurial savvy, a host of jobs may be yours for the picking.
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