The headline isn’t meant to mislead. There is actually a very good parallel between the two. Just as the over-abundance of foreclosed homes lowers the property values in a given neighborhood, a preponderance of Social Media “experts” in a given job market cheapens the value of the labor pool to potential employers. While this may seem like a good problem on the surface, as we dig deeper, we find that the reality of this situation is fraught with caveats. As businesses start to recognize the reality of SMM and make the decision to buy in, many are tempted to go after bargains. The potential for failure and frustration facing these companies is enormous . . . the effect of this trend on gifted candidates is the devaluation of their earning potential.
Like realty signs on foreclosed properties, we see business owners displaying signs of their cluelessness, caving in to the idea that Social Media Marketing is something “simple” that can easily be added on to an existing employee’s duties. I recently talked with a successful business owner who was looking at hiring an SEO expert as well as an SMM expert. In our conversation she declared that “Social media is easy, so I can probably just do that myself.” Easy? Really? I wonder if she has ever tried to attract fans to a page that has limited sex appeal or name recognition.
The signs are also showing up on job postings where the oxymoronic “Social Media Marketing Intern” title is thrown about as if it was something relative to anything. It is not. An intern may be able to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account, but when it comes to making that account viable, they are a recipe for imminent disaster. And if you plan to trust your content, message and interaction to such inexperience, you will not get my sympathy.
The truth is that there are very few real Social Media Experts in the world. There are individuals with solid backgrounds in business management and marketing that have made the effort to embrace this new culture and are willing to change their views on how to engage with their audience. These realists are finding that the ever-shifting sands of SMM are exciting, but at the same time challenging, testing the mettle of even the most gifted and experienced marketer.
We are in the midst of a new frontier, a new “gold rush,” if you will. While many hope to stake their claim on this potential windfall, only a handful will succeed. The successful Social Media Marketing Manager/Director/Consultant will not be an intern or someone who simply has a background or even an advanced degree in marketing. Rather, the new breed of SMM leaders will be those who understand how to run a business first and who are then willing to embrace and immerse themselves into this unpredictable and often hostile environment.
If you take anything from this article, let it be this; Knowing how to set up a Facebook page no more makes one a Social Media Expert than having a camera makes one a professional photographer. Until employers put an end to their foolish quest for cheap Social Media “fixer-uppers,” legitimate users of the craft who deserve more attention will continue to see their value diminished.