This is an amazingly insightful article about a subject that it near and dear to my heart (for obvious reasons) and some not so obvious reason. I love to learn new thing, I always have. In fact I have had to practice quite a bit of restraint, and condition myself to not chase after every new trend and tool. Having said that I do agree, completely with Kelvin’s assessment of the Social Media Marketers landscape. In a nut shell, evolve or die.
Almost three years ago, right after university, I talked to an awesome HR professional about my career prospects. While she gave me a lot of great info that day, one thing that stuck to me was her advice not to pursue positions that are only about social media. Her reasoning was that more and more marketing and business professionals were learning social—meaning, the need for professionals who specialized in this space was about to decrease.
Persuaded by this reasoning, I avoided roles such as “Social Media Manager” and even “Community Manager.” I ended up with a position in PR, which had some elements of social but mostly included media relations.
Fast forward to last year and I’ve decided to leave the world of PR to take on a social media role. The thing is, I liked PR—and quite frankly, I excelled at it—but it wasn’t my number one passion.
Last year, Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes proclaimed the role of social media manager dead. He cited a study that found that the growth in positions with the title “social media manager” has slowed down by 50% between 2012 and 2013.
Reading Ryan’s blog post—and now that I’m fully entrenched in social media management—I can’t help but re-visit that HR person’s advice. What if she was right and my current role becomes obsolete soon? What can I do now as a social media manager to make sure that I’m still in demand in the future?
After thinking about this, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: To remain relevant and employable, I have to evolve from a social media specialist to a marketing leader.
I brainstormed a few ways social media managers can make the transition successfully. If you work in social media and want to thrive in your career in marketing, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Acquire new (but related) marketing skills.
Content marketing has been hot for a couple of years now—and for good reason. Many marketers are learning that providing true value through content is a great way of increasing brand awareness and turning prospects into leads. Influencer marketing is another trend that will likely grow in the next year or so.
The point is, there will always be something new in marketing. Learn these trends because some of them will stick.
You also want to acquire older—but still very essential—marketing stills. The lessons I’ve learned in PR in my previous role are applicable to influencer marketing, for example. My basic SEO knowledge helps me drive organic traffic to our company blog. Email is still very hot, and learning MailChimp and other similar systems is a good skill to have.
Keep learning. Take some time everyday to peruse blog posts, to try new apps and networks, and to get your hands on new technology. Embrace your inner geek. Readinsights from creative and successful business leaders.
We have a lot of opportunity to keep on building on our hard skills. If numbers isn’t your thing, something like Analytics Academy, a program provided by Google Analytics, is a good option
By diversifying our skills and acquiring new ones, we can ensure that our marketing skills are up-to-date and relevant.
2. Become the customer advocate in the marketing team.
In an IBM C-suite study, 55% of CEOs said that customers have influence on a company’s strategic vision and business strategy. Executives are waking up to the fact that they need to involve their customers in every business process.
So how does this relate to you? Social media managers fundamentally understand the value of listening to and engaging customers. Together with the folks at customer insights, we’re in a good position now to be the customer experts in the marketing team.
Use social media to capture trends that will affect your company’s future. Trends like the Internet of Things, wearable tech, the collaborative or sharing economy, and big data have the potential to disrupt many industries. Listen on social to determine how these trends might affect your industry, and then share what you know to your CMO and the rest of your marketing team.
By becoming customer-centric, we do not only demonstrate the true ROI of social media—we’re also positioning ourselves as experts in the organization, which might help when we make career moves in the future.
3. Write—and then write some more.
Marketers require great writing skills, and they will continue to do so in the future. If you’d like to stay in the marketing field, learn how to organize your thoughts and to write well. From blog posts to emails, from landing pages to ebooks, writing has a lot of practical marketing applications.
Whatever is the next hot trend in marketing, you can bet that your writing skills will be required. So if you’re already blogging, keep on doing that, and find a way to improve your craft.
If you’re not blogging yet, now’s the time to do so. I have some tips in the embedded Slideshare. Get writing!
4. Learn how to market to the entire sales funnel.
Let’s face it: most (if not all) social media efforts help with top-of-the-funnel stuff. But many CMOs are looking for people who understand the entire sales process. Those who can drive prospects from awareness to information and evaluation are a lot more valuable to brands. You can provide more business value if you know how your skills can contribute to the entire funnel.
5. Build your online reputation.
Here’s the thing: The more real influence you have—and the stronger relationships you have with people—the less likely you’ll ever be unemployed. As social media nerds, we are experts at building communities for brands. The same marketing skills that allow us to build brands can also help us build our own personal brand.
Don’t wait until you’re in need of a job to start enhancing your online presence. Use LinkedIn to its full advantage. (Some tips in the embedded presentation.) Build your Twitter following (and always keep your eye out for possible future employers). Maintain a credible blog that provides real value and that communicates your expertise.
The social media manager will not die quickly
As long as people use social networks, it’s unlikely that social media managers will completely go away. Yes, social is “part of everyone’s job, or soon will be,” but businesses (particularly enterprises) will need specialists who will keep up with the ever-evolving social media landscape.
Given that social media is still expanding and continues to evolve, it will probably take years before our position becomes 100% obsolete. But just like any other roles, social media managers like myself need to evolve—and the time to evolve is now.
Brands need us: after all, most of us understand the value of engaging customers, and we know how to communicate with people using digital technologies. To prepare for the future—and to bring even more value to our employers and/or clients—let’s also make sure that we’re acquiring the skills that businesses need tomorrow.
P.S. I wrote this article as part of the LinkedIn’s #MyIndustry campaign. For more social media rants, I invite you to read my marketing blog. If you have any comments on this post, please tweet me @kcclaveria.