Want to Be a Successful, Sought after Social Media Professional?

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One of the first things my Social Media MBA students come to realize within the first 2 weeks of class is that the world of social moves at a rapid pace, changes often, and is constantly being evaluated and re-evaluated. You, the social media professional, carry the responsibility of ensuring you stay current with technology, methods, and strategy.

With this responsibility also comes the need to represent yourself in a realistic light. Resist the urge to describe yourself as a social media Jedi, social media rock star, social media guru or the like. However, ‘social media professional’ is quite descriptive in itself.  As the name implies, you specialize in social media, you are proficient, qualified, practiced, and this is your career.

Specifically, to be effective in this role, you must be:

Open to trying new things

In the quest to find the right methods, the right apps, the most effective platforms, the newest technology and the like, one must be open to experimentation and trying new things. Just as constructive criticism is difficult for some to take, trying “new” ways to perform traditional marketing duties is also difficult for some to accept. Social media and technology are working symbiotically to drive business by not only making it possible to communicate with others over a variety of channels in real time, but also allowing it to be done in a way that fosters an atmosphere of collaboration.

Flexible   

Anyone working in business knows the importance of remaining flexible.  Inevitably unexpected obstacles will abound, and it is necessary to have the ability to be flexible. Meaning, having the ability to react, adapt, and prosper. Being flexible means different things in different contexts, and different things to different people.   To me,  it means bending a little, but not breaking; adapting, but not losing focus. It also means knowing where you are going but not ignoring opportunities that present themselves along the way that could benefit business. This applies not only to your career as a social media professional, but also to your business and its social media marketing strategy.

An avid reader

The social media professional must commit to reading daily. Whether it be blogs, books, trade magazines, etc. you must read constantly. I suggest my students set up a blog reader like NetVibes to curate valuable reading material surrounding social media, analytics, measurement, ROI, careers, and other industry specific topics. As Dr. Seuss said, ” The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

An avid researcher

This point goes long with reading. Not only should you be reading, you should be keeping relevant information as it pertains to your social media goals and specific objectives. Let me repeat, specific objectives. Research case studies similar to your brand, search aggressively for the latest trends and best practices. This is a must to keep you current in this ever-changing social landscape.

I have definitely over simplified these four traits. But, over the next four weeks focus on one trait a week. As with any new regimen  (like working out), start off with small goals. For example, week one you may decide to focus on finding some blogs you find interesting and adding them to a reader. Then, begin to read and absorb the wealth of knowledge available. Then, week two you may decide to continue reading and also make a conscious effort to be open to new things. I am not saying to go sky-diving, I am strictly speaking about business and social. Something ‘new’ could be investigating BufferApp or another social media focused application. Do not forget to be aware of your flexibility, moments when you need to give a little, and moments you do not. And of course, don’t forget to pick a week to do a little in-depth research (possibly over an application you read about).

By the end of week four you should have assessed your level of flexibility, found what interests you in regards to research, tried a few new things, and done a lot of reading! These suggestions are not only useful to the new social media professional, but for the seasoned one as well. We all need a reminder (and the motivation) to stay in touch with our industry and in touch with ourselves.

What are your favorite Social Media related blogs to subscribe to (besides this one of course)? What about sources of relevant case studies?

Jessica Rogers
This monthly Social Media MBA column is contributed by Jessica Rogers. Jessica is a Dallas based Adjunct Marketing Instructor at Texas A&M University- Commerce and Full time Faculty at Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently working on her PhD in Business with an emphasis on Marketing; her dissertation research is focused on Social Media. Jessica teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses in Marketing, including Social Media, and has 16 years of field experience in business and marketing before starting her teaching career in 2009. Jessica holds a BS in Business Administration and an MS in Marketing. +Jessica Rogers
Jessica Rogers

@DrJRogers

Social Media Marketing Professor @SNHU COCE; Adjunct @tamuc -Wife/mommy/PhD'16. #68/Top 100 Mktg Profs on #Twitter. Lover of #smm & hot wings; fluent in sarcasm
RT @MillennialMedia: Good read on how mobile, online and in-store experiences complement one another by @mahoney_sarah for @mediapost http:… - 9 hours ago
Jessica Rogers
Social Media Marketing World

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never used the title “social media rock star” but, I know people who have. For me, irrespective of their choice of professional business titles, the bottom line is whether or not they are actually getting real-world business. If people are seeking them out and are doing business with them, I say go for it in choosing a title for themselves. (And remember: One of the items listed in the article is “Flexible”. So, shouldn’t the mentality be that of being flexible towards the titles professionals choose to call themselves? After all, some titles in the professional landscape are exceedingly boring – and actually, non-communicative…

  2. says

    You’re right. The social media “pro” needs to read a lot and stay up to date with the processes of social media. I’m no pro, but I do a lot of reading to try and keep up with all of the changes of social media!

  3. says

    Love the advice… and I believe you should be careful how you “define” yourself with titles. If you choose something as bodacious as, “The LinkedIn Diva”, for example, you better be sure you can back it up! You might notice too that a lot of people who use fun, descriptive, memorable titles – I call them monikers – are often also speakers who’s job it is to inspire people; and today, lots of people need and want to be inspired.

    Aside from my own experience, once you state something like “to be a professional, you can’t have any fun” (I know that’s not what you said, but that’s how I perceived it), I look to the title of the page I’m on. I’m going to guess that Neal (love you dude!) named these pages “Social Media MBA” for more than a couple of reasons. But I’m going to guess he’s not, nor is he formally affiliated with an accredited higher education. Instead, the name is intended to convey that the content you will learn here is of a higher caliber than “just a blog”, and honestly, he’s right! Neal has been in the industry a long time. Like us, he’s an early adopter, evangelizer, and educator.

    Aside from – again; taking it with a grain of salt and not judging people who do use monikers, fun titles, or the like (I mean, really, have you looked at the titles of people from Google and other modern, monolithic companies?) The rest of your article is great advice.

    Just remember, before you stake your claim, be sure you can defend it. In 2009, at the time I was dubbed “The LinkedIn Diva” by a fan, I had been evangelizing and educating for four years, I had written more than 500 profiles for all kinds of people, I was the ninth most connected woman on LinkedIn, and I was taking the stage to inspire others to embrace the new world of online business social networking.

    What you do matters; how you do it can inspire others to make positive change in their lives as well. Focus on the positive energy and do what you love. Work hard and everything else will fall into place.

    To quote a childhood hero: “Live long and prosper!”

  4. says

    Definitely right Jessica. Being a Social media professional, you have to read, research and reflect in every blog you found interesting. You can even ask questions to the author in the comment box therefore creating a community where everyone could interact. Blogs are very useful, just like this one. Thanks for the post Jessica. :)

  5. says

    Thank you all for your kind words! My comment “to resist the urge to describe yourself as a social media Jedi, social media rock star, social media guru or the like” is more geared to my students who may not have the results to back it up. Those who have proven track records have earned that right to use the titles. There is no argument there.

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