Social media staff must wear multiple hats
Jobs in the digital economy are growing. It seems postings for social media managers – or the equivalent – pop up every day.
Companies and organizations are adding these roles to ensure they meet consumers’ expectations of social media presence.
“Social media managers/digital marketing managers have become increasingly present in companies due to the rise of technology and social channels in today’s world of work,” says Randy Upright, CEO of employment agency Manpower’s Alberta Region. “Companies are belatedly realizing that they must be active where their audiences are – and they are online in all its myriad forms and channels.”
Upright characterizes these new social media and digital marketing roles as modern equivalents to long-standing roles in communications and marketing. The channels and methods of marketing have changed, and so too have the tasks. Social media and digital presence are now a big part of building a company’s brand and community engagement.
“We have long been in the age of velocity relative to the changing world of work,” he says. “Today’s marketing manager . . . is faced with a need for evolving skills.”
“We find that this field requires expertise. As building is best done with an architect and drilling a well could use an engineer – the world of marketing in the complex digital world requires expertise.”
Upright says to succeed in these roles, employees need to have social media and marketing experience, and a mix of being teachable, creative and technical/analytical.
“This role is part social behaviourist, communicator, reputation manager, writer, business developer, and analyst. New information is always surfacing, so it is important for a successful digital marketing leader to have the ability to retain information and upskill,” says Upright.
“Any successful marketing team member has an appetite for knowledge, to learn about competitive strategy, to understand the needs of the marketplace, and to have a thirst for information.”
Since information pours in rapidly, he says, social media managers need to manage large volumes of it.
In fact, two of the most important skill sets required to be an effective player in the game are technical acumen and persuasive writing.
“Digital marketing and content creation go hand in hand. While technical skills mainly focus on analytics and algorithms and content creation lends itself more to creative and editorial skills, it is important to possess some technical skills and knowledge,” says Upright.
It’s not easy, but Upright says it is possible to find people who can fulfill both roles.
Samantha Paterson, a social media manager at the University of Calgary and an instructor in Continuing Education, says companies and organizations often don’t have the budget for two different positions.
“Often it’s a case in which someone starts off as a content person and then learns the technical skills, and becomes really good at metrics and analytics,” says Paterson. “I’ve seen a few cases of other people who are more technical but really embrace the storytelling, too. You kind of have to flush out that other skill set to be competitive.”
Paterson says impeccable writing skills are vital. A typo or poor wording can throw an organization’s credibility into doubt. Yet organizations are looking for someone who can do that and edit video on the fly.
“I’ve had to learn more about creating video on my phone over the last year than I’ve probably had to before,” she says. “Increasingly, video is a platform where we all have to some extent be amateur videographers for that day-to-day content.”
Another challenge for digital communicators is resourcing. Paterson says most organizations have reallocated budgets, rather than expanding resources to pay for the increasing number of social media personnel required.
If you’re looking for someone to do your social media work or if you are contemplating a career in social media, check out Ranstad’s profile on social media managers for more information about the career, opportunities, skills needed and salary expectations.