You Don’t Need A Social Media Expert, You Need A Good Marketer
I’ve been called a web “expert” or “guru” by others both internally due to success with client work and externally from personal projects/my writings here. I don’t relish those terms – the word expert signifies a total understanding, something not possible in a media landscape that is rapidly shifting beneath our feet. I also don’t like the word guru, if only because it implies superiority — certainly I am confident, but let’s not confuse the two. Yes I write on social media, but I’m exploring it from the perspective of marketing as it has huge potential for that in particular. I do not nor would I encourage any of you to self-proclaim expert status.
Let’s get real here – social media expert or guru status could be conveyed on a tiny group of individuals – people like Kevin Rose, Mark Zuckerburg – who have developed multi-million dollar companies using SM. They’re about as close as you can get. Anyone else claiming expert status is kidding themselves.
This brings us to my point: you don’t need a self-proclaimed social media expert, you just need a good marketer. Any marketer worth their salt understands social media along with practical application by now — the best marketers are fluent in all media and able to develop ideas that spread.
While you can develop platform-specific marketing, good marketing itself is not about the platform, but about the idea. The platform is merely an enabler – and while an understanding of the platform is important – everyone should have that. It’s not unique or valuable – and if it is today because of a business digital divide, it will not be forever. I know this is obvious but I think it needs to be restated: what is valuable is the ability to produce strong PR and marketing for tangible results. It’s that simple.
Marketing managers, CMOs, PR professionals, etc. should be fluent in creating successful ideas and working with media and tools on all platforms. That is the basic requirement of success in the world of communications for today and tomorrow. Fluency with everything from what is possible in web app development, to strong writing, to branding campaigns, to working in modern CMS platforms, to SEO, to getting your communications themselves to spread, to relationship building and everything in between are all skills necessary.
In a bad economy (or any economy!) why would any company decide to choose marketing leaders lacking in any area of skills when those exist who are capable at working within all platforms. If you are a communications professional of any variety it is your job to put the pieces together and understand a fragmented media world from both the macro and platform-specific level. That is what good marketers of today and even more into the future will understand. It is not unfortunate that those who don’t play catch-up become irrelevant, because one of the core elements of being a communications professional is staying at the edge of how society communicates.
Demonstrating proficiency with the tools themselves is the low-level skill. That’s not where the talent exists, everyone should have the basic knowledge of working with the tools in the tool box. It is tantamount to being in construction and all of a sudden a new crane is developed which is more efficient than the old crane. The old crane may work fine for certain things that have always been done and still need to be done – but the new crane is far superior for a majority of tasks and it is now standard that all builders must be able to manipulate it. Some of the older builders may feel displaced by the fancy new crane – however the smart ones realize their old skills actually translate once they learn to operate the new crane and their years of experience still are an asset. But those who refuse to learn to operate the new crane will fade into irrelevancy since there exist those who can use both.
I’m not saying only having web-specific skills is relevant, and traditional media skills are not relevant – in reality, right now they both are. And that’s the point – there are enough people with strong, cross-platform skills that limiting yourself as a marketing professional is short-sided as you’ll merely be passed up for someone who can lead marketing initiatives on all grounds.
Agencies that specialize are a different story because in many cases specific needs are required by companies – however I believe the web-specific agencies that will be relevant both today and tomorrow are made up of team members who do not possess a myopic view of the world – rather, they understand the bigger picture of marketing and are adept with all tools. It just so happens the web is a bigger opportunity than any communications platform in the past has been for business, making a talented, web-focused agency too valuable to ignore for many types of businesses.
The bottom line is this: thinking in terms of tools or platforms is the wrong viewpoint (even within web-based tools specifically) as their use is only limited by your creativity. A literacy of all communications platforms is necessary, as then and only then do they fade into the background of your thought processes and allow you to develop groundbreaking solutions.
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