Approximately 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter account; 66% have Facebook Pages. However, many of these organizations lack experienced personnel to truly unleash the power of social. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review of 2,100 companies, only 12% of those utilizing media feel they use it effectively. Further, online job postings requiring social media skills have gone up 87% from 2011-2012; there is now demand for proven social media professionals. This is great news for all of my Social Media grad students! This leads me to believe that not only employers accepting social, it is now a requirement for business (a notion many of have been shouting from the rooftops). Along with this comes the need for employees who can accomplish social strategies for businesses.
Many believe that social media is simply having an active Facebook profile or Twitter feed. I assure you it is not, there is a method behind the madness! My social media MBA courses offer students the opportunity to learn and apply skills relevant to their career or career goals. These courses are part of a traditional MBA program, requiring courses in accounting, finance, management and more. Students utilize all of these classes together; not in a vacuum. They learn to be strategic and analytic. Upon their completion of the MBA with the social media marketing focus, a student should be able to demonstrate the below competencies. These are not necessarily individual skill sets, but cover a broad spectrum of skills that if used together, make the individual more proficient and marketable. These topics below are addressed more fully within the courses I teach, but are a great resource to look over and evaluate yourself. View this check-list and assess which you have conquered and which you can improve upon:
- At a minimum, you should have an active Twitter account and LinkedIn account designed around your personalbrand. Similarly, you should know what a hashtag is, why we use it, and how not to use or overuse it!
- Do you know the logic behind utilizing social? Here’s a hint: Engagement. This is a broad answer, but if you have been following this blog, you should know that the common theme is “engagement” with external and internal stakeholders.
- Accept and embrace the importance of listening before you speak (via social) and having a social plan/strategy before jumping on the social media roller coaster.
- The social media professional must be open to trying new things and possess the flexibility to make changes as needed.
- Commit yourself to reading constantly about social media and measurement; searching aggressively for the latest trends and best practices. This is a must to keep you current in this ever changing social landscape.
- You must be religious about social media monitoring for customer service opportunities and initiate conversations on behalf of the customer. Social media allows brands to actively monitor conversations and arrive at resolutions more quickly than ever before.
- You must embrace connecting with consumers directly. These deeper connections can lead to higher-level interactions, including advocacy and loyalty.
- Analyze social media actions and reports on a monthly basis to uncover successes. This also gives you the potential to identify new opportunities you may be overlooking.
- Timely and relevant content for any social platform is very important. Similarly, content must tailored and optimized for a particular platform and intended audience.
- You must identify and understand your business-related goals. All content on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel, etc., has to support your business-related goals.
- As a social media professional, you must have the patience to go the distance. Social strategies are not short term. Long-term goals with specific objectives must be identified first, followed by specific tactics in place.
- Importance of integrating traditional with social strategy. This is often easier said than done and involves a lot of time, people, and patience.
- Do you have some knowledge of SEO best practices? Many students give little attention to this facet of the courses thinking it is more of an IT job duty. Knowing the how and why of SEO can be a huge help to your career and your brand.
- You must have a solid understanding that as a social media professional, you must collaborate with various other departments (including but not limited to sales, IT, legal, HR, R&D) to share, innovate, and improve business.
- Do you know who the top influencers are in your sector? Your competitors? Industry specific trends? You should be able to find them using various social techniques and feel confident in the data you are collecting.
Social media is so much more than simply knowing how to tweet, how to use the various social platforms, and how to navigate the different tools available. It’s knowing how to utilize them together (effectively) to reach your organizations goals. This involves high levels of strategic thinking, a very critical skill. Strategic planning is more important than ever given the significance of integrating social with other brand communications. Aligning social media goals with the goals of the business as well as business objectives is often overlooked. Strategic planning in business today must include more than creating outputs (tweets, blog posts, and videos), it should include the actual building of relationships that lead to an increase of the bottom line.
My graduates know that no one is truly THE social media expert, guru, Jedi, ninja, rock star, king, (you get the idea). I even reprimand those who might use those phrases with my name in the same sentence. We are all learning from each other and are actively taking social media to the next level! I believe that is what I enjoy most about social media: those who truly love the field and love what we do want all to succeed. Making this community of social media folks one that is full of individuals helping each other, communicating successes and failures so others may learn, while also “checking in” with each other “just because”. This is so different than any other business sector that I have been in partly due to the nature of social media, but also due to how business has evolved since the early 90’s.
What skill(s) will you try to focus on and improve?