Three careers that will dominate social media (and it’s not what you think)

I’m a marketing guy. And boy I love it.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than a great case study! Well, almost nothing.

But as I look to the future, I’m not sure marketing, sales, advertising, or even PR are going to be the leading career paths for somebody I would hire to lead a social organization transformation.  Of course these areas are important — and will continue to be — but if I’m growing a corporate social media competency, here is who I would be hiring in my company:

1) Journalism. The social web’s need for content and storytellers is insatiable. I was recently on a panel with a dean of a large journalism school and he said they are having record enrollment. Why? Where are these people getting jobs?  Alternative media. The ability to rapidly crank out superb content is at the heart of any new media strategy. As the information density of the social web continues to escalate to unbearable levels, the ability to stand out through scintillating content will be essential.

2) HR/Change management. You want to know the biggest problem companies face in finding social media success? It’s not budget or talent or vision. It’s corporate culture. Every large company is creaking and churning toward a reaction-oriented, empowered culture that can succeed in this environment. This change is going to take some gut-wrenching organizational shifts and, as we are already seeing, the jettisoning of entire teams of people who don’t have the right skills to make the transition.  HR needs to be in the middle of this transition — and move these companies forward quickly!

3) Statisticians. If I were hiring a new social media marketing employee today, it would be a statistician, not a marketing major. Marketing has always been about finding insight from data but in the past that data was pretty difficult and expensive to come by for most businesses. We are entering the era of big data where marketing — even at small companies — will be ruled by math. The lack of basic understanding of statistics and analytics by social web “experts” and SEO consultants today is shocking. But make no mistake, this is where the treasure lies.  I think it would be easier to teach marketing to a statistician than the other way around. Marketing success will come to those who will be able to tease the most insight from data, so I’m putting my money on the numbers folks.

I know this is unconventional thinking but I think if you look at the mega-trends, it makes sense. What do you think?

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  • I considered going back to get a marketing degree, but I’ve been quiet pleased, and not-so-surprisingly marketable, with my journalism degree the past year or two. I think crafting stories are at the heart of a journalists marketability, but even more so, I think the ability to tell stories from often uncovered angles is even more powerful. Journalists can scrape the bottom of the content barrel – and do it without breaking a sweat.

    Great thoughts! The landscape is changing, and it doesn’t take a fancy degree to get folks hammering away. I especially agree with #3, as social and digital media are brimming with data. Sifting through that requires insight, a keen eye and patience.

  • Very thought provoking! I am hiring with a view to increasing our social capacity at present so thats a great tip. And I’m quite pleased, we ‘re purposed’ one of our journalist as a content guy just the other day

    nalied it again Mark?

  • Lorelei Gibb

    If we’re talking “social”, whatever form of marketing you want to include, you cannot ignore the social sciences. Marketing can only succeed if you understand who you are targeting, but which I mean adding in psychology and sociology. And whilst HR is essential in changing corporate culture, to fully comprehend this you need Anthrologists.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Mark. Nice to have validation of the stuff I’ve been working on for years land in my lap. #1 and #2 are what we do at Answer Guy Central.

    Now if I was just a statistician . . .

  • Ben

    Really good post, Mark, I agree. When there is a trend, or a ‘mega-trend’, you have to look for the things that buck that trend. If everyone is a social media expert, nobody is an expert. What things are getting left behind – real, quality content is number one. Change management, sure, a fast-paced environment always needs people who can embrace change. I would say that’s more of a mindset than a role, though. And the amount of data being created is huge, at unprecedented levels. Using a gut-feeling is fine, but I’d rather that gut-feeling was backed by a really strong analysis of what it is that people actually do, or like, or click…

  • Nancy Cawley Jean

    This makes total sense given the skills needed in today’s social world. Unfortunately many decision makers in organizations don’t recognize this, and I think HR will need to come a long way in those companies who are, shall we say, less than forward-thinking? thanks for this post- I’m sharing it with my VP. Baby steps, right?

  • Sounds like you’re well-prepared to take on the furure, Justin! 

  • Well, who knows? Time will tell. I just give it my best shot : ) 

  • I guess there was an underlying assumption about that anthropologists and sociologists have been interwoven with marketing (at least with major brands) since the early 1990s. Thanks for bringing that important point into the discussion Lorelei!

  • Ha!  That’s where the action is, believe me!  Thanks Jeff!

  • I guess where I am coming from on the HR thing is that I have a masters degree in organizational development. I know that achieving dramatic “change” is more than an attitude. It is a very gut-wrenching process that can unleash an organization or destroy it, and I have seen both.  There is definitely a critical skill set required to do it right. My two cents any way.  Many thanks for adding to the lively discussion Ben! 

  • Well I work with many different companies of different sizes and I’m pretty sure I’m right about these needs and trends but we’ll see. And I think we will need HR to step it up in many cases. We don’t just need “do-ers” who are processing resumes, we need leaders who can make a difference in the direction of an organization.

  • 1.  I would not hire journalists, but I would train them in how to write persuasive content – aimed at transactions.  Tom Sant has excellent materials, as do many old school direct marketers.

    2.  There are many HR platforms which will deliver compliance solutions to businesses under 80-100 employees, who cannot afford their own HR staff.  HR Sentry is an excellent  platform, for example.

    3.  I would not hire any statistician – I would hire someone in game theory who had statistical training.  You aren’t interested in mere patterns, you are interested in spotting responses to your marketing strategies.  Only someone trained in game theory, small world network theory, or something like that is going to be helpful.  The time series guys are going to waste your money.

  • Arnold Free

    I largely agree with the article, but I don’t think it is particularly new to social media – the “ability to rapidly crank out superb content” has been a problem I’ve had to deal with in business for 25 years, and the same can really be said about change management. Change is constant in business (and life) and social media did not create a new category here.

  • Mark – I am with you on this one. I think the future of the whole online social experience will be the playground of the great storytellers. I hate reading ad copy thinly-veiled by a “story” when I would much rather read a story that would cause me to ask questions about your product/service.

    I struggle when nearly every post, every tweet, every FB page leads you inexorably to the “lead capture.” If your story doesn’t capture me, neither will you!

    As for company culture, I think you are right on point here as well. For existing companies to move to the new media, much of their cultural modeling must change and to hire creatives to bring about this change in culture. This would be a good hire!

    As a non-statistical person, I would love to have a numbers person make sense of my analytics. I like looking at them, but really using them to my advantage … not so much.

    So, as unconventional as your picks are, I can see the value in them all!

  • Very interesting take Mark! I think these are important trends to watch. One of the problems I foresee (and this may fall under the HR task) is the gradual decline in the ability to develop relationships. Social media is all about relationship building but not in the sense that I think of it as person-to-person. Online relationship building is indeed important but at the end of the day, if you cannot relate to real people, your message is lost.

  • I’m biased as a PR guy and I know that all organizations are different, but I think an effective PR person is going to be able to do all of this well – or maybe I should say that a good PR person NEEDS to be able to do all of this well. I think that an external communication team/person needs that ability to be able to create engaging content in a snap and effective internal communication can be a main driver behind creating a corporate culture shift. Statistics is the killer; it’s such a deep field and takes a lot of study to master, but most university journalism/PR/advertising programs include a course or two in research methods. It’s up to the practitioner to get better at analyzing that data throughout their professional career.

  • “I think it would be easier to teach marketing to a statistician than the other way around.”

    I’m not sure I agree. You’d have to find a math/stat geek that WANTS to do marketing and business development. I know a lot of marketing people that don’t get marketing. To expect a statistician to just come in and ‘pick up’ marketing might be harder than you think.
    You teach marketing though, right? So maybe you’d teach them and that changes everything 🙂

  • You’re absolutely right here Mark, and it’s a striking notion to boil it down this way. Finding good writers is increasingly hard, but anyone can become a writer. Journalists who have that gift will get work, college degree or not. Formal education probably has more to do with moving up the ladder than it does getting entry level positions in new media journalism.

    Statistics – that’s where it’s at. Advanced statisticians are essential if you’re doing large campaigns online. Getting the data is cheap – the computer will do most of that for you which used to take heavy resource allocation to research. Handling that data is the important part, and it’s the basis of why the customers to my consulting business are pleased, see results and feel like they’ve truly gained “THE INSIGHT” as I call it, knowing exactly what they need to know, to do. It’s like I’m telling them something they already knew, but couldn’t grasp, and that there was 1 thing in the universe that needed to be said and nothing else would ever suffice, we just captured it and interpreted it into a solution. It all starts with statistical analysis. 

    There is one problem though – I don’t think the people reading your blog are interested in entry level social media jobs…. at least not yet. I think most readers consider themselves pioneers in social media, and more worthy of a VP position at Oglivy Mather’s digital marketing desk than a job as a statistician or Journalist at Uber Media. The best advice often goes unheeded.

  • James Ulvog

    Just as those jobs will be key for organizations moving in a social media world, the skills behind those jobs will be something each of us as individuals will need to develop in a small degree. As a blogger and an intentionally one-person company, I need to brush up on all three.

  • Arnold Free

    So writing, arithmetic, you just forgot reading, are essential skills!

  • Ha!  Well done Arnold!

  • We’ll have to agree to disagree (totally, it appears) but I am very appreciative that you took the time to provide this dissenting view. Well done Michael and thanks.

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  • Yes i do agree with you Arnold, yet I would say your perspective is unusual. What I see is that companies are trying to become social organizations without attention to change management. In that event, they will be stuck “checking a box” or worse. Thanks for the great comment.

  • Thanks Dave.  Glad we’re agreeing on this one. Thanks for letting me know! 

  • Wow, that is a huge topic!  I’m conflicted on it. I realize that many traditional human relation skills may be at risk but I’m not denying that an entirely new set of skills is moving in — like managing conflict over text messages. It’s the reality. Thanks for the interesting perspective.

  • You’re absolutely right. That would be the ideal and good for you for moving in that direction!  

  • I call this strategy “job security.” : ) 

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  • “Anyone can be a writer”  Ummmm … I was with you for most of the comment but that one pushed me off the wagon.  I think this is a pretty rare skill and not easily acquired. My two cent any way!  Thanks so much for contributing to the discussion Adam!

  • Absolutely.  As a consultant, I at least need to know enough to ask the right questions. Thanks, James.

  • Mark:

    I am totally with you on points #1 and #3 but not on HR.

    Big picture strategists love to say that HR is going to be vital – yes it really will this time – even as it continues to function as a bureaucratic swamp thwarting needed change.

    I would guess (1) journalists, (2) Quants, and (3) marketing in that order, which is still plenty provocative!

    – Gary

  • You are welcome, even in dissent.  Perhaps you will come to my point of view, but even if you don’t, do read Tom Sant on anything he wrote.  Marvelous writer.

  • Absolutely spot on Mark. Here in the UK, it’s impossible not to notice that journalists are suddenly flooding onto social media like migrating wildebeest, despite having at first been slow adopters. While they’re not always great at strategy, most journalists are able communicators, a skill that is essential in content creation.

  • Extremely plausable, revealing, and thought provoking Mark!  Thank you for sharing your “unconventional thinking” for me to consider my options for HR/Change management…

  • Mark – What is the saying – Culture eats strategy for lunch?  Your #2 is so very important.  I would add that Change Agents need to spring from within functions to drive credible change – and be supported by trusting and engaged leadership and strong structural (HR) foundations.  Cheers!

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  • I am with you on 1 and 3, Mark. HR’s I’m not sure about – it may be because I have yet to meet one truly gifted HR who 1. loves his/her job 2. brings out professional best in people 3. really understands organizational processes and needs. I should also add that here in Belarus (Eastern Europe) an HR manager is paid and treated like an administrative assistant shuffling papers and not even sitting in on job interviews (!)

  • Connieworks2

    Your 3 points seem right on.  Speaking from a Bachelors degree in O/D and Blogger, I often wonder how the 2 could marry in the social media world.  A;though a Statistics dropout, I derailed for advanced Algebra, but your article was convincing on all 3 points.

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  • I love #1 and #2, and *almost* love #3, which might surprise you. I think we probably are going to see analysts/statisticians become one of the most integral roles at any data-handling company, and that is becoming pretty much any company, really. But we don’t need “fiefdoms” of analysts who are essentially data pukers because they are subject matter experts, but not strategic thinkers. I’d like to see statistics unlocked from the realm of the statisticians, and instead be more of a required business skill for the non-analysts. Really, that’s more about the educational system, I suppose. I haven’t used Trigonometry since high school (a little on the GRE/GMAT, I suppose) but I use stats literally every day. Anyway, you might be able to teach marketing to a statistician, but you can also teach statistics to a marketer – or, indeed, anyone with the *root* skill we are talking about here, critical thinking. You can learn business stats in one semester. You can’t learn critical thinking that quickly, to put it mildly. I’d like to see greater numeracy, period – but not have that numeracy locked away in any one specialist function. 

    Stats, like HTML, is one of the core languages of the web and I see that as the foundation for any digital career. Having an army of statisticians and “creatives” in a company sets up myriad farmers-and-cowmen-style battles, where it’s “okay” to say you aren’t a numbers person. I think saying you are not a “numbers person” is exactly like saying you are not a “word person.” Innumeracy is equivalent to illiteracy in 2012. My first two degrees were in English lit–my quant education came second–so I am sometimes tone deaf to even legitimate declarations that someone isn’t a “numbers person.” You “can” teach numeracy, and I’d like to see your #3 simply be a prerequisite for being a business leader, rather than a career.Having said that, you are probably right (actually, demonstrably so) that it WILL be one of the 2-3 top careers in the next few years. So feel free to disregard me 🙂

  • I’d expand journalism to say creators. I’m a huge fan of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks and wholly agree that creativity is one of the most essential and most lacking skills we have today. Look how many people are copy-paste-cats in social media and beyond and how few are truly creating new things. There’s no doubt that someone who can execute flawlessly a pre-set recipe is an asset in the right situations, but someone who can create a new recipe is what’s going to power your business forwards.

  • I most certainly agree with #1 (since I count myself in the ranks of such), but I think that category needs to be more broadly defined as, simply, creators.  The core of any new media strategy? Story. Narratives emerge from – and through – content.  Critical thinking and creative problem-solving are instrumental to achieving that goal. 

  • I agree that all of these areas are critical. I was initially surprised by #2 and #3, but it took less than 5 seconds for them to click.

    As for #1 – I keep hearing people say that “Journalism is dead.” My response is, “No it isn’t. And it’s about to become a lot more lucrative.””

  • woo hoo! I account for #3!

  • I agree with Tom. Love #1 the most (story telling and ability to engage readers is SO key). Love #2 and almost love #3. Good article!

  • Arnold Free

    I guess that is because I have spent most of my career building start-ups, or smaller enterprises. However, I just don’t think this skill set is particularly new or innovative, or unique to our on-line social world – the ability to tell great stories has been the essence of sales and entrepreneurship (yes, the French have a word for that) since the beginning of time. Being able to effectively build great teams requires HR –  and great teams are a great start to building a great company. As for mathematicians – when have they ever not been incredibly important! 

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  • Svengeorgiev

    So can I go home now with my `International Marketing´ MA? Any way for me or am I just…well…out?

  • Bmossing

    Is #3 business intelligence or business analytics? Sort of statistics with a business focus.

  • I totally understand your point.  Without trying to offend an entire profession, I have met very few truly strategic HR leaders in my life. But the ones who are can absolutely be an incredible competitive advantage!

  • I am LOL. Falling off the chair with this image of journalists as migrating wildebeest. Thanks for adding the lively imagery to the discussion! 

  • Well if I made the amazing Dr. Rae think in some new ways, my job is done here today : )  Thanks for letting me know!

  • It’s so interesting how the comment section is dividing down the middle on the HR aspect. Perhaps it is a function of the size of the company and the complexity of the change?  Interesting development in this debate and I am grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to add to the dialogue Bill. 

  • Wow. That is so interesting Tanya.  It is amazing to have this international perspective in this debate. Thank you so much!

  • I have a masters degree in OD which is maybe why I see the opportunity. Thanks for adding your voice today Connie!

  • My pleasure Mark, you are “amazing” as well : ) 

  • I think we are in violent agreement. But I will have to be in the unusual position of actually saying something nice about you. You have a “special” brain Tom in that you are one of those incredibly gifted people who is both right-brained and left-brained. I mean a creative and witty statisican? Go figure.

    So you are a remarkable talent that would be pure gold for any company these days. But my judgment is that you overestimate how easy it would be for everybody to be as perfectly cross-brained as you. In a perfect world I would love for every stats person to go deep in marketing insight and every marketer to at least know enough to ask the right questions about statistical analysis. Hopefully that will happen. And if a company finds that golden combination, they will be lucky indeed!

  • Beautiful point sir. You have my wheels spinning.  How would you develop and lead a staff of “creators?”  A fantastic idea to consider. Many thanks for adding your perspective today.

    PS to all {grow} readers — if you haven’t yet discovered Christopher’s blog, please subscribe now. He is on the leading edge of combining marketing insight with statistical wizardry.

  • See Christopher’s comment below. You’re in good company!

  • I think you’re right. The cost of cutting through the clutter is going to keep going up and the value of these superb writers will increase.

  • Good for you!

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment Robert.

  • No, as i said at the top of the post these skills will continue to be important! Don’t despair … but make sure you are on top of the analytics!

  • “Yes.”  It will be all of that and much more. We have the ability to create unparalleled customer insight.

  • Alex MM

    I mostly agree with this line of thinking. Journalist? Absolutely. Data journalism is it’s own sub specialty in the field, and social media analysis is a huge part of that. HR/Change management? I’m not sold on this. I think social media can be used productively for organizational communication, and maintenance of an organization’s shared knowledge. But, if you’re talking about it as a recruitment tool, we’re already there, and if you mean using it in some “people management” capacity, I wholeheartedly DISagree. HR needs to stay as human as possible, in every respect.

    Finally, as a former 15 year marketing vet who is now pursuing a PhD that is essentially an advanced degree in statistics, I agree that statisticians are needed. Too many “experts” are out there peddling metrics analysis that is either done unscientifically (at best) or just total nonsense.

    In all, this was a very compelling piece. I can’t wait to read more commets.


  • Bill

    Love the point about statisticians, perhaps because I watched “Moneyball” last night. I think the technology ultimately will drive content and ensure that the message is actually driving sales and customer loyalty. Someday, someone will develop an accurate measure for ROI.

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  • I can totally see journalism dominating Social Media. And I believe that Journalism will be changed by the masses. The information travels way faster now and becomes more transparent thanks to Social Media. 

    HR is for sure another field where Social Media plays a very important role. Your digital footprint is very important, as well as some positions need someone with a strong online prescence. 

  • The single most powerful trend I’m seeing with my clients (nonprofit & small businesses) is the question of ‘change management’ (approached from the people side). It’s a nuance that many executives don’t pick up on, they’re holding on to teams with formerly-useful skills and not building teams with contemporarily-useful skills. Navigating this evolution is what is setting companies – and indeed entire industries – apart. 

  • I agree! I dont see HR belonging on this list. In fact, each time I have applied for a position and have spoken with this group first, I felt a little slighted. They did not understand anything about what I did or what my contributions would be. They were simply comparing my bullets on a resume to a job description that was churned out. Recruiting tool? Maybe but only if they are the few that really ‘got’ what the organization was trying to do.

  • In reply to both Alex and @twitter-189130313:disqus both of you are describing are very tactical issues around HR. What I am talking about is the fact that in many organizations that are conditioned to advertise and broadcast, wholesale changes in both structure and personnel may be necessary. Sounds like an HR issue to me and without, companies will not succeed. My view any way. Thanks for the dissenting view!

  • I LOVE Moneyball. Loved it as a book long before it was a movie. Thanks Bill!

  • So nice to hear from you my friend. Missed seeing you here in the comment section! Thanks for the insight.

  • Hurray! I’m glad SOMEBODY agrees with me! : ) Kellee = my new BFF : ) 

  • I would slightly revise Christopher’s comment with “Teacher”.  As journalist and creators are developing content, I believe the majority of this content has to be designed from a teaching standpoint.  Obviously, people are searching the web for knowledge, so why not develop the content from a teaching perspective.

  • Nice addition Andy. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • I have to agree on all counts. As a recent graduate studying marketing, the more I learn the more I realize that I DESPERATELY need to go back and study stats. It’s so fundamental, I’m surprised more stats aren’t required specialize in this field. I took ONE stats class (maybe 1.5 if you include the class that integrated the two). It should have made up at least half of my marketing requirements. 

    We have plenty of marketers with good ideas, and no numbers to back them up. I believe this makes us pathetic marketers, not revolutionaries. 

  • Anonymous

    Mark, Kellee – Completely agree with you. I work in an industry (broadcasting) that is trying to change, but it’s not coming fast enough. With a few exceptions, we’re falling behind, I believe. Change MUST come from the C-suite, and it MUST include a realignment of human capital. 

    One area of importance I would add to your group is “video.” The sum of all forms of video (TV, video, VoD, Internet, and P2P) will continue to be approximately 90% of global consumer traffic by 2015. (Cisco)

    I am recruiting, and would recommend others seek a “videographer”

  • Great article Mark – I would love to hire a statistician to analyze my numbers.  I really like analyzing things, but as an entrepreneur I just don’t find the time (plus the available options are SOO in-depth that it can consume DAYS!).

  • Sounds like a business opportunity for crowd-sourcing : ) 

  • Interesting take Gordon. Kind of falls in line with the nuance suggested by Christopher Penn below that companies should look for “creators.”

  • Strongly worded and true. Here’s something weird back int he mid-1990s I actually received the equivalent of a masters degree in stats through an executive training program.  Problem was, I never used it! I know enough to be smart about it and ask the right questions, but the timing for me was off by about 15 years! Thanks for the comment.

  • Mark, I would agree with you on all three points but there is no doubt that #3 is the key to unlocking the marketing success of a company.  If we don’t understand the numbers what good is any marketing campaign to get more engagement other than an expensive exercise? The 4 P’s are key but the numbers have more importance! Stats is a MUST HAVE!

  • I actually don’t think you can create a staff of “Creators” inasmuch as you should be hiring for the trait. Can you teach creativity? Yes, to a degree, but it’s an attribute as much as it is a skill. Hiring for it – hiring people who are creative – would be preferable.
    Imagine this for a marketing interview. Here’s our brand slogan. Using the artistic medium of your choice – music, art, paint, writing, photography, whatever – make an artistic representation of our brand slogan that sums it up to you.
    What a headwrecker that would be!

  • Awesome point Zoe. I’m grateful that you took the time to add your voice to the dialogue!

  • Me = FAIL.  Glad I already have a job! : ) 

  • Hi Mark. Great post. As you’ve predicted, none of the careers were the one’s I thought of. I’m actually shocked about #1 (Journalism). I’ve been hearing people sing the same tune of how Journalists are a dying race since there will be no need for them in the digital age. I see you agree with me that they are actually much needed. Great piece!

  • I’m glad this glad this had an impact on you Michelle. Thanks for spending time here today!

  • Totally agree with the statisticians portion of this article.

    When working with small businesses especially, many times they have either a college student or recent college grad managing all of the social media accounts. As you’ve stated, most of the time these people don’t track any sort of analytics, let alone understanding what the analytics are telling them. Social media efforts should be very strategic, focused, and analyzed regularly to maintain progress to the goals.

    Great points made, I’ll definitely be sharing!

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  • Mark, I like where you’re going with this. From my perspective as a novelist and journalist, I am not surprised to see journalism as #1 but I’d say the emphasis needs to be on:  “storytellers” with a strong voice. They will stand out because they know how to capture the hearts and minds of the readers. Re: HR, seems like a no brainer to me. And the no-brainer but gut punch for me is the Statisticians, so not my strong suit. But I get it, not because you say so, but because in my experience with my client — as a writing coach and Book Publishing Consultant — is knowing the stats and following them really has made a difference. Thank goodness I have an in-house stat guy: my husband, Ezra Barany, bestselling author The Torah Codes.

  • Awesome Joe. Thanks for the comment!

  • Agree 100%. Well said Beth and thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us!

  • Peter Gruben

    I can easily think of another 10 Social Media functions (all these functions you mention are important supportive functions but in reality they will not ‘close the deal’.  And I think the deal can be many things across nearly every function from sales to customer service and much more. Saying that, I agree that Social Business success will also depend on the quality of the areas you mentioned. Well written, thank you!

  • Cianaaspell

    I am a statistician with a PhD in marketing. Looks good for me so!

  • Racheladuggan

    There is some food for thought in your article. The 3rd career definitely warrants employment as what use is a good social media marketing campaign if the positive and effective results cannot be drawn from it. 
    The influence and power of social media is something which cannot be ignored.

  • I think you are absolutely right! There are a ton of good journalists trying to find ways to keep using their skills and your suggestions are ideal. The stats folks might need a little more personality though in order to articulate the numbers in a way that is useful to the organization. And finally, HR/Change Management: Social media adds even more credibility and value to their position. Great insights! 

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  • Used a similar idea a couple days ago during an interview with an account manager responsible for upselling products. Very useful exercise helping separate the true candidates.

  • I’ll say! 

  • Glad it got you thinking Rachel. Thanks for commenting!

  • Ha!  Great thoughts Cathy and I think you’re right !  Thanks.

  • I agree with #3, but its expensive and time consuming. Many times the things you need to collect data from wasn’t designed to do so. I’ve worked on 2 major large scale projects where reporting and stats collection were an after thought and now its expensive to pull all the data together in a usable format. Its absolutely critical to finding the gold for your business, but if it takes too much time and resources small companies might put it on hold. For larger companies its a hard sell if you can’t deliver results quickly.

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  • Love that idea! In fact, I think I’ll just go do that for fun right now.

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  • I don’t know if I agree with you on the 3rd point, namely because without creative marketing, your statisticians won’t have much numbers to play with 🙂

  • Yes and no. I find that a lot of the tasks we do are repeated, so once we set it up once correctly, the cost should be low in many cases, but your point is well taken Shane.

  • I guess an underlying assumption is that we will still need marketing, but these are additional, important skill sets. Thanks Jose!

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  • I would add to the list RESEARCHER

    Someone has to put together all of the juicy tidbits that others create memorable content off of.

    I guess that kind of falls in with journalism.

    What motivated you to write this?

  • A very relevant post, and may I add I agree with you – and so does the ‘marketing guy’ I happen to know best 🙂 I think I’d personally opt for a career in journalism but run into change management everywhere.

  • servantofchaos

    I agree with #1 and #2. But if we do the first two well, the need for #3 disappears. In fact, there are a number of emerging platforms that map business process to your existing structured and unstructured data.

    What we are seeking is the story in the data – the creators or storytellers or those with a storytelling bent and a curious mind will mine this data for insight. The change managers will deliver the culture and processes to transform marketing. But we will then need marketing technologists – hybrid specialists who can act as translators across lines of business. I’m thinking that’s where we need some action.

  • Copywriters.

  • Whoever can use data well can control social media. The future needs Data Scientists.

  • Ah this is so true and why this social media consultant is back in the classroom retaking the stats classes I slept through during the undergrad years. Great post as usual

  • Great insight! Fascinating how fast things change! Knowing how to work the numbers has been key in business for so long…yet the manipulation of what is happening gets so dirty….skewed to show anything (real or fabricated)….the importance to be able to understand that is huge! I have watched people manipulate the numbers to their own end for years….and watched others not understand what the first has done. There will always need to be stats specialists, but a broader understanding by many will be useful, as will the ability to explain the numbers to others.
    Love that the face of journalism is changing so much…sad to see so many bad writers out there! With such proliferation of social media and online content….I really think the need for need for skills in written language will also flourish!
    Perhaps that is why marketing will not go away….you need a way to link together all the different aspects to maintain the successes of the company….marketing roles perhaps will just begin to change shape a little to adjust to these trends!

  • Chandler T Wilson

    Agree with the change management point. I don’t agree that it’s easier to teach creativity to a mathematician than basic stats to a creative. I have first hand experience with both.

  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    Hi Mark: I don’t think this thinking is ‘unconventional’ at all!

    In fact, I think it is already a requirement at many schools and universities, and more innovative businesses are adopting ways to develop these skills within their own walls. Problem is, specific to journalism, the nature of information, and the notion of ‘big data’, creative disciplines require experimental approaches, as well as for people to think more critically, which run counterpoint to the way schools teach curricula and businesses actually run themselves.

    Here’s a talk I gave at USC Annenberg in September, for more context, and has lots of examples (watch the video):

  • Kristine Allcroft

    Left brain/right brain = quantitative + qualitative. But I think at the heart of the matter needs to be what used to be called “critical thinking skills” – before it got a bad name. Too many folks have been lured to this thing called “social media marketing” thinking it was easy – and something you could do without thinking. As the profession develops, those with critical thinking skills, i.e., folks able to ask the right questions, will be able to succeed. The most important question of all: “from where did they get the data” . . .

  • Jennifer Bulman

    Good article, Mark. I agree with Journalism as a valuable background to bring to social media, and the sort of statistician who is interested in interpreting their figures (*after* properly conducted research). But I have not observed that HR training calls or creates the kind of independent, creative, observing person who would be of use here. I would look to some types of OD specialist, particularly people who have Appreciate Enquiry (AI) skills. In my experience, they are better at helping people encounter, initiate and process change.

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