I am going to make a bold prediction: In five years, the role of Social Media Strategist will no longer exist. In today’s media landscape consumers have increasing options for how they consume media, from terrestrial radio to social media. You wouldn’t have a “radio agency” as part of your communications strategy, so why would you have a digital agency? Social media is just one of many communications channels that we use to tell a brand’s story. As media channels become more varied, marketers either have to adapt and learn how to reach audiences on their platform of choice, or find themselves irrelevant.
Ten years ago, there were no college courses on digital marketing or social media management. Marketing, public relations, and advertising lived in silos, often handled by specialized agencies or in-house teams. Then came the explosive growth of social and digital media. These professionals lacked the technical skill set necessary for integrating digital media into their strategies. Thus, digital marketers were born; highly specialized positions were created such as SEO Specialist, Search Marketer, Social Media Manager, and so on. It became commonplace for brands to have a PR agency, a digital agency and a traditional media buying agency. The result is a decentralized marketing landscape with fragmented strategies costing organizations time and money.
But separating “digital” and “traditional” media doesn’t work anymore. For example: Let’s say you have a PR team for media relations and a social media team for “social content.” You want to reach out to an influential blogger who only communicates via Twitter. Which team is responsible for reaching out?
Your PR team is already creating content and buzz within the community, so it makes more sense that they are also managing social media. It is easier to teach the technical side of social media, such as ad targeting or how to report metrics, to an experienced or public relations professional than it is to teach a SEO Specialist the finer points of a broader marketing mix or communication strategy. Marketers today have to possess a wider skill set.
Digital is an integral part of how we consume information in today’s media landscape. Thus, we have officially entered an era of “post-digital.” Really good marketers understand how to use all of the tools available to them in their toolbox. Technology will continue to evolve and marketers will place their bets on strategies like virtual reality and chatbots, but that doesn’t mean that billboards and out-of-home options will disappear. For example, a retailer buys a billboard. In the future, it will use data and mobile technology to understand exactly who drove by that billboard and what stores they visited near that billboard’s location. It’s traditional media, only smarter.
Marketing responsibilities will no longer solely sit with your marketing team. Everyone in your organization will have to be part marketer. Your research and IT teams will work with your creative teams to implement campaigns like the billboard example described above. Customer service teams will master Facebook chat and Twitter. Human Resources will use LinkedIn and Facebook Ads for recruiting. And publicists will use social media to build media relationships and generate publicity.
How can an organization best integrate these once disparate communication teams? What barriers does your organization need to overcome to become post-digital? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @solomonmccown!