Social Media Specialists Are No Longer Needed

If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, then its time to take your collective aggregate knowledge of social media and add it to the overall mix of what you know and do. We’re at least five years in and I want you to quit being a social media specialist, because you aren’t one any longer. Simply put, and I’ve written about this at various points in the past, we’re all becoming social media generalists.

I used to be  an SEO specialist until  what I did just became a small  part of the daily mix of things that I did for our clients. There was also a time where I used to do nothing but manage PPC campaigns until it just became part of each clients overall web marketing strategy.

We all did something before social media

We all could mildly claim that we are or were bloggers at one point in time, except that it’s now merely part of what we do for our clients and respective companies. Same with video/vlogging, same with social media optimization, same with email marketing, same with creating websites, designing logos, writing copy, and creating tag lines; at one point in time it was unique and special but now-it’s just a sum total part of the collective us. We’re pulling from our collective experiences now. It’s natural and expected.

By now social should be a small part of what you do, but not all of what you do- At least for some of you. In fact, and I know a lot of you who fall into this category, there was a time where you owned social media and no one else could touch you. You were oracles of the social media soundbite.  Not anymore, social media knowledge bearers and practitioners are multiplying like rabbits and they know the game just as well as you do except…

You still have an advantage...

When I first got started in social it was for reputation management purposes and even then it wasn’t as much about the conversation as it was about understanding social media and its relationship to search… or I should say a blogs relationship to search (Facebook and Twitter weren’t even part of the conversation yet) Back then, a lot of you SEO’ers were merely concerned or wondering how to hyperlink signatures with keywords-I know that’s what I did, but then I evolved and so did you. Case in point.  I can bet all of you who have had a blog longer than a year can now spot a noob to the blog scene. How? When you get comment spam from people who insist on hyperlinking their generic, lame, weak, comment to a no-follow keyword based signature, you know… and you ask “Did they really just do that”? You’ve evolved.

Let’s digress

Things are changing. skill sets are changing- for example, if you are a PR practitioner, when did it become imperative that you understood how to not only write for your client, but also how to write for search? Or where the title of the promo piece was as important as the content contained within? Or better yet, when was it asked of PR practitioners that they had to understand the value of making connections with people in social networks? or starting blogger outreach campaigns? The PR person of today has many skills across multiple disciplines. They have to have them to survive.

Things change, people learn and skills evolve.

For Marcom people adding social to the mix is just another in the long list of things that are now just part of the job description. Yes we all still have to deal with the pretenders in the space, the snake oil salesman if you will, but for a lot of us, social is just part of the mix now. There was a time where I hated hearing the comment, “Yea but there is no ROI in social”; Now? I love to hear that comment so that I can fire both barrels of justification back at them. I’ve evolved and so have you. Marcom people need to know social, marketing, writing, PR, email marketing, advertising and design. Do they have to have deep knowledge? No, but give me breadth if I can’t have depth.

The next act

You see for a lot of you, your baseline level of knowledge in social now sets you up for what’s next. For those of you with an agency background, social is now just a part of what one does when creating a campaign. In some cases it’s the cornerstone, in others, it augments. Same with design. It’s a given that sites will have social components now-The hard part used to be finding people who could carry out the idealistic social initiatives aligned with the campaign, not any more. The troops are waiting for their marching orders.

Now social media failure isn’t so much based on the unknown or the person with a lack of knowledge, as much as it is based on a weak strategy, poor management, the wrong KPI’s or bad tactics. For a lot of you, you are the ones that will lead the charge into the new era of well rounded, seasoned generalists with skill sets that cover, tech, social, marketing, pr, and web. That’s the person I want and that’s the person that brands need.

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The Ideal Skillset for a New Hire for an Agency

I made a comment earlier to someone that it is really hard to find someone or people that have depth and breadth across the board. In fact this exact discussion took place at Social South late in the Summer by a pretty smart group of folks worth following on Twitter. The group included  Scott Schablow, Tom Martin, Jason FallsDavid Griner, Beth Harte and myself.

The question or challenges continues to present themselves to me and that is, trying to find someone with a blend of skill sets that can take on the challenges that this new marketing and communications world has presented us with.

What types of skills are needed? Here’s a quick list that I threw together, I know I’m missing some obvious ones, if so let me know.

  1. Understand the nuances of customer service and why the customer matters
  2. The ability to understand technology’s big picture as well as the small stuff
  3. PR skills-“the how tos”, “the whys”; and “the what fors”
  4. Soft listening skills
  5. The ability to write a blog post with tags, links and proper attributes
  6. Know how to comment on a blog and why
  7. Know how to post a blog post and where
  8. SEO skills-How to write for SEO
  9. How to write PR releases with SEO in mind
  10. An understanding of social media
  11. A deeper understanding of social media
  12. How to use Twitter and what the purpose of twitter is
  13. How to write an email-I know it sounds simple but…
  14. How to create an email blast and send it properly
  15. How to write a proposal
  16. How to monitor a brand across multiple channels
  17. An understanding of basic HTML. CSS would be nice
  18. The ability to use Photoshop to some degree
  19. The ability to use a MAC or a PC well.
  20. The ability to present in front of a group-speaking skills, remember them?
  21. The ability to create a PowerPoint presentation
  22. An understanding of UI-know what sucks and why
  23. The ability to manage your time effectively
  24. Know how to prioritize
  25. Know what web tools can make your job better and make us better
  26. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion,it matters
  27. The ability to share and be selfless, it’s important
  28. The ability to learn quickly and absorb it
  29. The understanding that everything that you create digitally, now is this close to being consumed publicly.
  30. The ability to change direction on the fly

Though it would be nice to find the person that had half of the skills mentioned above or perhaps knowledge or understanding of 3/4 of them, I know that might be asking too much. If I can get someone who knew a few of them, that’s a start.

Does this seem like I’m asking too much of college graduates? I don’t think so. This is a new world where having expertise or a degree in one discipline just won’t cut it anymore. Our industry requires that you have knowledge in lots of areas. It almost demands it. The good news is that a lot of graduates and individuals are already armed with these skills. The bad news is, it might be changing tomorrow.

United Airlines PR nightmare

The airlines industry is an easy subject to pick on, to bash and to trash. Of course they don’t help the situation when they have to deal with PR nightmares. Check out the video that currently has, 388,659 views, and then read the whole story at the jump.

Dave Carroll is a musician who makes a living with his guitar.

Check out the comment from a spokesperson with United Airlines after the video went viral:

“This struck a chord with us,” said Robin Urbanski, spokeswoman for Chicago-based United. “We are in conversation with one another to make what happened right.”

It struck a chord? Ya think?

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