What are the most important social media marketing skills that graduating college students need to understand?
I’m asking three questions of some leaders in the field of social marketing and this is what I learned. This is the tenth in the series (see the links below for other posts in the series).
"A successful social marketer knows why they want to engage in social communities," Breakenridge says, "and how a particular program will serve the needs of the audience in the community."
"Marketers who listen first and then develop their programs to solve a problem, change an opinion, create materials to help make decision, offer something exclusive to the members of a community, etc., stand out above the rest," she says.
"The social media marketers who have a well-planned process and a strategic purpose will also make the most impact for the brands they represent.
"They will do research first by listening carefully to the community, set measurable objectives and implement strategic programs to achieve those objectives," Breakenridge says.
"Of course, they also realize that social media creates accountability and these marketers evaluate their initiatives closely to determine if they've reached their social media goals," she says.
What skills are the most important for recent grads in social marketing?
One of the most important is a competency in technology, new tools, resources and applications, Breakenridge says.
"Technology enhances the ability to research and gauge public attitudes.
"Being able to navigate new social media communities and to use monitoring technology allows us to understand the perceptions and the critical issues of the people we want to reach," she says.
"We can hear their thoughts, opinions and concerns, as well as how they discuss topics with their peers."
"Technology also allows professionals to set up detailed metrics to capture measurement that reveals everything from high impact engagement to lower level community participation."
She adds that other important social marketing skills include writing for social media channels, starting a dialogue and engaging directly with customers and influencers, and learning how to listen, evaluate and respond properly to comments that may lead to negative sentiment.
"Social marketing is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix," Breakenridge says.
"From millennials to adults over the age of 65, the number of consumers participating in social media is on the rise.
"However, you have to be cognizant of where your audience congregates," she says.
"Knowing when and how to reach the public is critical to the success of any communications program, whether it's through more traditional or social media channels," Breakenridge says.
"As such you also have to remember that social media measurement doesn't stand alone. You will need additional data to determine how social media contributes to valuable business outcomes or the ROI of an entire marketing program."
Breakenridge says working outside of silos enables PR, marketing, advertising and the web to integrate their programs and to see how social media creates impact as a part of a company's comprehensive marketing plan.
What do you think? How important will social marketing be in the future and what MUST graduating students know?
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