If you're at all familiar with the nature of marketing, you know the importance of constantly evaluating and evolving your strategy to stay competitive in your industry. Chances are, you've been paying more attention to customer experience, digital data, measurement, and various forms of content marketing and promotion.
In all this, there's probably no doubt in your mind that social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.
But how does your company approach social media? Are you still designating one or two interns to just "handle it"? If that's the case, it's time to once again evaluate your strategy. You might want to start by sending a message to your HR manager. Your next social-media manager should be as familiar with business and marketing concepts as he or she is with Facebook and LinkedIn.
Marketing professionals leading the way in social media recently revealed some of their background experiences with content marketing expert Jay Baer, identifying the skills that are essential for the demands of today's successful social-media campaigns.
Here are several insights gained from Baer's e-book, Social Pros All-Stars: Career Paths & Tips from 27 Big Company Social Media Professionals, as well as feedback from social-media experts highlighted in the book.
Until recently, social-media marketing was considered a field anyone could break into, several of the social-media experts pointed out. As a general rule, companies figured if you were young and active on social media, you were a good fit for the job, says Jason Miller, social content manager for Jim Beam and one of the experts highlighted in Social Pros All-Stars.
"Now, it's totally different, and just being an 'awesome' Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr user isn't going to cut it," he says. To succeed in the field, you must be forward thinking, demonstrate you can understand and interpret consumer data and marketing strategies, and write effectively for your targeted audience, he says. "You must be willing to fail," Miller adds. "You need to just go and do it."
There's also a misperception about what it takes to develop expertise in social-media marketing, especially for an enterprise company, says Adrian D. Parker, VP of digital marketing for the Patrón Spirits Company.
In the future, Parker says, careers in social media will be heavily focused on business elements, including governance, globalization, technology adoption, user experiences, and content strategies.
"It's important to think about what you want to accomplish before assuming that all social jobs are created equal," he says. "The art of implementing social media at the enterprise level is very different from using social for personal pursuits."
Did I Mention Skills?
In the near future, social-media marketing experts will need to expand their skills even further, particularly in the area of data analysis, Miller says. With social listening and Big Data key to the field, you must be able to read and interpret data.
"Numbers still matter very much. We are a truly balanced profession," he says.
Marketing Degree Not Required
Going into this project, Baer says, he had expected most of the social-media pros to have a marketing degree, or at least something close to the field. According to the group surveyed, only 24 percent have marketing, business, or advertising degrees. However, 50 percent have undergraduate degrees in English, English literature, public relations, or journalism.
The main key for a successful career in social media lies in the skills of listening, communicating, and problem solving, says Parker, who says his background and experience in public relations taught him how to present ideas, persuade audiences, and compel action--all elements of great storytelling.
Although Facebook is the largest social network, it's not the favorite among the social marketing experts featured in the e-book. Of the 27 respondents, 14 reported Twitter as their favorite. Instagram was favored by eight, while Facebook only received two votes. LinkedIn and Untapped each received one vote. Pinterest was not mentioned at all.
Overall, the experts pointed out that there continue to be misconceptions about how to run a successful social-media campaign. The biggest issue is not understanding the scope of work and resources it takes to run social media, says Bryan Srabian, director of digital media for the San Francisco Giants. "Social media is not free, and companies that are succeeding are dedicating resources," he says.