06/10/2013 05:08 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2013

Is Social Media Poking a Hole in Your Career Plans?

What is social media?
Social media is a web and mobile based communication that links businesses, governments and media sources to their audience who may be clients or consumers. Some popular examples of social media tools include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Google+. Social media allows for instantaneous information exchange that could expand exponentially or go viral. Since more and more businesses, organizations and agencies are employing these tools, social media degrees/careers are becoming increasing important.

Social media changes the way you work
Many of us envisioned publishing a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, pursuing a PR career, making a name as a star TV, a radio journalist or even a gossip columnist as a career goal. While these highly desired careers are still popular they have changed dramatically due to social media.

Growth of social media
According to Social Stream Index, two of the key reasons why social media is taking off and growing are because of mobility that has increased the number of people accessing the internet via mobile phone by 60.3 percent in the last two years to 818.4 million users and, the adoption of social media by older users. For example, the report notes that Twitter usage of the 55 to 64-year-old age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with a 79 percent growth rate since 2012. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook and Google+ are the 45 to 54-year-old age brackets.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, we are now living in a social economy that has evolved in a very few short years. Today people use social media to discuss consumer products, organize political movements or share news and current information. In addition, McKinsey notes that 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way but the power of social technology is still untapped. Much of the future potential lies in how these technologies will increase worker productivity and tasks.

Social media and job creation
A study dated Sept 19, 2011, by University of Maryland's Business School, found that Facebook has created as many as 235,644 U.S. jobs, injecting some $15.71 billion into the U.S. economy. The study found that 53,000 new jobs have been created in software companies that build apps for Facebook's platform. The authors also assert that an additional 182,000 people were employed in jobs "supported" by the app economy.

A 2012 study by research firm Deloitte suggested that Facebook has had an economic impact on Europe of $20.2 billion supporting 232,000 jobs.

At the World Economic Forum, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg touted the company's job-creating power. "Facebook is barely seven years old and has 3,000 employees - and it has created more than 450,000 jobs in Europe and the U.S."

Whether you are a student contemplating a career in journalism, media or broadcast or an employee considering a career change, it is well worth thinking about what types of new skills will be needed in a technology oriented world.

5 jobs that could be displaced by social media

1. Radio and TV Announcers - YouTube has quickly become the mainstream source for visual news and information. In fact many popular TV and radio shows are broadcast on-line and not on mainstream channels. Many aspiring hosts broadcast from their homes using various basic collaboration and production technologies.

2. Gossip Columnists - Why do you need a gossip columnist when celebrities tweet about their own outrageous antics?

3. Newspaper and Magazine Writers - While many envision the newsroom popularized on TV and in the movies, most reporting today is shared through real-time blogs, feeds and alerts that have become the norm for information.

4. Publicists - Aggregated use of social media outlets are securing more attention than some radio and TV. According to 2012 report, blog sites such as Huffington Post and BuzzFeed were ranked number one and two in circulation respectively and reach larger populations than many traditional newspapers. Individuals who are diligent with posts can become instant icons. If you secure a regular video spot with the Huffington Post or become a LinkedIn thought leader you can be famous without a publicist.

5. Book Publishers - The publishing industry has changed and will continue to change as eBooks, online self-publishing sites, e-libraries, and free information continue to expand.

Social media education
According to the Journalism Degree Career and Education guide, colleges and universities are now offering social media undergraduate and graduate degrees. Journalism schools offer a variety of concentrations including online public relations, social media, social media management and specialties in social networks or web development for social media. Programs offer a wide range of degrees and courses from non-technical to technical tools and applications.

Social media jobs
According to Gary Daugenti, Managing Director, EVP of Gent & Associates recruiting firm, "Social media is still evolving and is a somewhat unknown space. There is a lot of demand for talent in the technical and non-technical areas and this will continue to grow and refine as the industry matures."

Jennifer Brent, Technology Practice Lead, Gent & Associates says, "The jobs range from data engineer specialists in social media technologies, such as Yammer, to product managers of digital commerce technologies to SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, social media developers, online PR specialists, online video producers, and social media marketers."

According to Anne Angelopoulos, Sr. Manager JustStaff staffing firm, "Many firms start slow, hiring part-time contractors and consultants to get their foot in the water. These positions can lead to expanded roles or new roles in the firms. It is a very exciting time for people who willing to learn and perfect new skills." Social media is an emerging and exciting career path that can expand and displace jobs and careers. The field opens up a variety of career and job options that are very different from the past. It takes a motivated and innovative individual to explore how to take advantage of this new and exciting space.

Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on career development. She is the author of ten books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. She is a key advisor for recruiting and outplacement firms. Her most recent book is Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program, researching the impact of technology on future careers. Find Tracey on Twitter and Facebook.