If you have anything to do with marketing, you've at least played around with social media. Even if you are a retired marketing vet, you've at least opened up a Facebook or Twitter account or even read a blog or two (I say this in confidence because my grandmother is on Facebook and my grandfather is going to be rolling out a new blog himself this year). To be worth anything in marketing right now, especially if you're trying to gain employment, you have to have some expertise in the digital world. Everything is shifting online and anyone with quality skills in using social media tools has a leg up on a lot of competition. Legitimate or not, it's true most of the time. Several people with the tech know-how on social media are breaking into the marketing scene marketing scene with little to no marketing background, not even an online marketing degree. They are "specialists," teaching people how to use social media tools...but without any value beyond adoption.

However, the day is rapidly approaching where social media will become the norm. It will no longer be new and trying to find its place in the world. Instead it'll become part of a normal marketing job description. Marketers will be expected to be able to leverage social media with the same degrees of success as print and TV back in the day. Social media will no longer be a prized, specialized skill.

It will be an expectation.

When that day comes, we will be able to weed out who is truly good at their craft. The time of experimentation will be over. Companies will expect results from social media campaigns in the same way they expect results from other marketing efforts. Though the marketing rules have changed significantly over the last few years, the same strategic thinking skills like knowing how to reach your customer  will still be necessary. The end game is still about influencing behavior, even if the methods and mediums change. Those who are legitimately great marketers and learn practical approaches to using digital tools will prosper in the long run as social media matures.

Those marketers who would still have value to a company without the aid of fan pages or Klout scores are the ones you need down the road. A lot of people drink the Kool-Aid. Genuine marketing pros can tell you if the Kool-Aid is worth tasting.

Social media is putting on its big kid pants this year. Are you ready?

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