Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Social Media Professionals Need Skills

Photo by: toastforbrekkie

I’m a social media professional. I work with Griffin Technology as their Social Media Coordinator. I’m responsible for engaging with our customers online, joining and creating community, and representing our company at conferences and speaking engagements. I also do a lot more.

Michael E. Rubin wrote a post on Marketing Prof’s blog yesterday entitled “Is the Social Media Expert Going the Way of the Dodo?“. He raises some great points about people working in this space.

He writes:

This is the question at the heart of the matter: is the era of the Social Media Expert drawing to a close?

For the time being, my answer to that question is a qualified “no.” I do believe that there is still a great deal of need for education and training in what social media can and cannot accomplish. I also believe there is still a huge amount of confusing hype that is hurting its adoption rate in companies both large and small. There is most definitely still a need for someone who can help cut through the clutter, provide examples and case studies of what’s worked (and what hasn’t), and demonstrate a clear-cut case of business value and ROI.

If you spend as much time on Twitter as I do, you’ll be well aware of the social media snake oil salesmen out there. Just a quick search will reveal much of the crap flooding Twitter these days. Although, I’m not writing this post about the spammers and scammers in social media, I’m writing it about the profession itself.

Rubin continues,

However, my belief is that by 2015-2020, social media is going to be a part of the basic skillset in which anyone who communicates for a living will have to have a decent amount of knowledge and expertise.

A wake up call

This is the important part, it’s a great wake up call to social media professionals, the good and honest ones, that this can’t be your only skill. What else do you have under your belt?

Chris Penn has talked about being the best marketer who is excellent at social media, rather than simply a Twitter expert. Chris is a great example of a guy who is an expert in student loans, because that’s what he does for a living. He uses social media as an effective tool in his everyday career.

My background is in promotions, publicity and marketing for one of Canada’s largest broadcasters, live theater producers, and newspapers. I also happen to be a geek :-) . My previous skills and experience help to make me an effective social media professional.

Do you agree with Rubin? Do you think the social media professional will be a thing of the past in the next decade?

Photo by: toastforbrekkie

Dave

http://www.davemadethat.com

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  • Funny that you write about this because I've been thinking about it a LOT lately. Currently I work for myself as an independent social media strategist and have a few clients who seem to think there is a dividing line between “the internet stuff” and all the rest of their PR, marketing, etc. It's been hard to convince them of otherwise, which is frustrating in itself.

    I have an LLC and am in the process of forming a “real” company, but people aren't understanding that it's not going to be a “social media consulting” company, per se. What I'm doing currently is OK for now, but I've told many people that within 5-10 years this stuff is going to be so integrated into their business culture (like email) not only won't it be novel, but it won't be a “separate” anything to them. Luckily my background is in PR, especially entertainment publicity, as well as hospitality, teaching, and writing, so I have other skills. And I also happen to be a geek, which is a big plus.

    So my answer is YES, I do think that in the next decade “social media professional” will be a title of the past. Not as obsolete as “milkman” but I believe that social media skills will be slowly adopted by entire corporate cultures, and those of us who are banking on it now (legitimately) will have to fall back on our other skills . . . which is fine by me.

  • I do agree with Rubin, social media will blend into marketing communications, it will become just another channel.

  • Good post Dave. I have mixed feelings about it. My final answer to the question “Will social media professionals be a thing of the past in the next decade?” is no. Here's my explanation.

    On the one hand, everyone isn't into twitter, facebook, and blogging like some of the social media mavens including Jason Falls, David Griner, Mack Collier, Sonny Gill, and yourself. You guys are leaders. People turn to you for advice and guidance in social media. Around my office, people turn to me.

    But, what happens when all the people we teach about social media catch up and begin to “get it.” What will they need us for?

    Time. Social media takes time. For one, it takes time to develop a social media strategy, teach companies how to use it, etc. Secondly, it takes creativity that some businesses don't have time to think about.

    As long as companies use social media, they will need someone to take the time to actually do it. To blog, to twitter, to be active in social media, and to keep up with medium as it continues to emerge.

    -Michael

  • I understand that social media will be blended into the overall marketing campaign, but someone still has to do it.

    Graphic design, copywriting, video shoots, photography… it's all part of a marketing campaign. But someone has to design the logo, shoot the commercials, write the copy, and represent the company in social media. Unless one of those people has time to do social media on top of their regular tasks.

  • Great comment Michael. Thanks for taking the time.

  • True. It's working it's way into the Marketing Mix. However, I wonder if
    it's taught in Marketing 101 classes yet.

  • The sort of shift I'm thinking through is the idea that experts in social media are going to around, and more of them will come. But just being an “expert” isn't going to be enough. As Social media is so broad and encompasses much more than just any one dimension of an organization, there's going to be a lot more that SM experts are going to be expected to learn.

    [title of a future blog post of mine] Social Media is not a niche anymore. Try again.

    People are going to still have to improve their expertise, knowledge, and ability to add value in even more niche ways into the future.

  • Agreed. Thanks for the comment Malcolm.

  • Pingback: Social Media Professionals Need Skills | Dave Delaney - Community … | JTEQ.Net()

  • The era of the social media guru-expert-ninja-”twitter whisperer” is definitely here!

    While Social Media is legitimately effective, there is a more practical reason why it has become the sexy news story of Internet marketing: How do you make an exciting piece for the evening news about multivariate testing, increasing ROI on a PPC account, or the proper application of keyword density? But showing someone on their iphone and coming up with fancy variants for Twitter, makes for good twopy.

    So for now, we're seeing a rush of people who want to incorporate Internet marketing into their strategy; but haven't been exposed to anything beyond these buzzwords. So, in rush the scam artists as well.

    I feel bad for legit talent like Dave—he will probably end up spending a lot of time educating clients who are making their first leap into Internet marketing.

    I expect to see my own wave, when SEO becomes the hot item; but I'm not sure it's worth it. Just ask Vanilla Ice. I’d prefer it if SEO ends up being the Don Henley of Internet marketing.

    At the end of the day, I still say that we are moving in to an integration model; where an adept IM will have to be well versed in all forms and have the connections to draw in the best combination of talent, for each particular client/project. It will definitely be a fun ride, no matter where it ends up.

    The Google Whisperer,

    Matthew Freeman
    http://www.nashvilleseo.info

  • So.. if there is a SEO expert now comes Social Media Professional.. Cool.. Great Post Dude! Informative

  • Thank you Gino.

  • Spot on!
    For us (web-marketing people), social media is simply another extension of the medium in which we work. The term “Social Media Expert” can be very deceiving. These people can quickly go by the way of “Dot.commer” once the business world has a more clear way of understanding the value of social media.
    Facebook and Twitter began in '04 and'06 respectively. Remember, the dot.com bubble was only 4 years long and then 'kaboom'.

    Simply owning a Twitter and Facebook page doesn't necessarily qualify one as an expert. Additionally – being a good writer or journalist doesn't exactly fit the mold of an on-line marketer. Which is exactly what Social Media is… (for a business), a way to market to clients/partners/etc.. via interaction and engagement.

    yet another 2 cents…

    Damian
    http://www.JDScreative.com/

  • Love your cents! Thanks man.

    Poor spelling and extreme brevity brought to you by iPhone.

    http://www.davemadethat.com

  • I'm not big into titles. So as I look over my post, I'm not really sure I stayed 100% on topic. The real question to me is where are we headed, not what is the title. (I also feel more confident in ideas of where we are headed, than what names we will give things.) Going out on a limb, I am going to say the title category sticks. We still have copy writers, billboard companies, print design companies, pr companies, web design companies, etc. All them are different specializations on sales, marketing, and public relations. I think the social media tools are transforming how we interact with each other, but the exact name we use may change. (I have always hated the term “media;” its meaning is too fluid and it keeps coming up with a new buzz definition. I am also not going to “socialize” with big corporations in the way that I socialize with friends. I don't want to cheapen the name I give to time I spend with true friends.)

    One of the analogies to email is only part right. Email is generally considered private communication. Most of the rest of social media can be anything from private to public. To the extent social is for private groups and people can figure it out for themselves, the term social media expert will eventually have virtually no relevancy. To the extent that it becomes a specialized bit of knowledge within marketing, or to the extent it takes over many marketing/pr/sales functions, the title may prove to have some long term relevancy. However, even then someone at a PR firm using these tools might not prefer to brand themselves as a social media expert, but remain simply a public relations expert so as not to limit themselves.

    I think the system as a larger whole will eventually consolidate as people will get tired of doing different social functions in different online programs and the programs themselves will likely add features/links/partnerships with other programs. So eventually (And I have no idea how long) I think social media will be about as simple (or confusing) as email.

    I think we are in the early phase of a new technology implementation, which always start with a lot of confusion. Where there is confusion, there are consultants. If that concept is true, things will really begin to simplify when we get to about 50% implementation because some of the poorly implemented ideas will start to fall away and momentum will build behind the winners. The next shakeout will happen at 90%. Some argue the dot com bust was the end of 10-50% part of the cycle of the 50-90% part of the cycle. However, it will likely not be clear-cut because “implementation” can mean a variety of things depending on how you or your company intend to use the space. We are just beginning to see how it will be used.

  • I'm not big into titles. So as I look over my post, I'm not really sure I stayed 100% on topic. The real question to me is where are we headed, not what is the title. (I also feel more confident in ideas of where we are headed, than what names we will give things.) Going out on a limb, I am going to say the title category sticks. We still have copy writers, billboard companies, print design companies, pr companies, web design companies, etc. All them are different specializations on sales, marketing, and public relations. I think the social media tools are transforming how we interact with each other, but the exact name we use may change. (I have always hated the term “media;” its meaning is too fluid and it keeps coming up with a new buzz definition. I am also not going to “socialize” with big corporations in the way that I socialize with friends. I don't want to cheapen the name I give to time I spend with true friends.)

    One of the analogies to email is only part right. Email is generally considered private communication. Most of the rest of social media can be anything from private to public. To the extent social is for private groups and people can figure it out for themselves, the term social media expert will eventually have virtually no relevancy. To the extent that it becomes a specialized bit of knowledge within marketing, or to the extent it takes over many marketing/pr/sales functions, the title may prove to have some long term relevancy. However, even then someone at a PR firm using these tools might not prefer to brand themselves as a social media expert, but remain simply a public relations expert so as not to limit themselves.

    I think the system as a larger whole will eventually consolidate as people will get tired of doing different social functions in different online programs and the programs themselves will likely add features/links/partnerships with other programs. So eventually (And I have no idea how long) I think social media will be about as simple (or confusing) as email.

    I think we are in the early phase of a new technology implementation, which always start with a lot of confusion. Where there is confusion, there are consultants. If that concept is true, things will really begin to simplify when we get to about 50% implementation because some of the poorly implemented ideas will start to fall away and momentum will build behind the winners. The next shakeout will happen at 90%. Some argue the dot com bust was the end of 10-50% part of the cycle of the 50-90% part of the cycle. However, it will likely not be clear-cut because “implementation” can mean a variety of things depending on how you or your company intend to use the space. We are just beginning to see how it will be used.

  • t focuses on those areas where the professional communicator needs to boost confidence…

  • Look for companies that need people to manage social media internally,