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I Don't Care How Old Your Social Media Manager Is.

I Don't Care How Old Your Social Media Manager Is.

The age debate online on who should own social doesn't seem to quiet. It's a narrower focus than the entire millenials-are-awesome-but-entitled-so-maybe-not-as-awesome-but-lazy debate and zeros in on social media strategists and community managers. One article recently argued the point on why every social media manager should be under 25 while another from PR Daily sided on the same side of the fence listing reasons why millenials should handle your social media. Then, on the flip side, Inc posted an article titled "11 Reasons A 23-Year Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media" making the case that you shouldn't hand over the keys to your brand to a business newbie. 23 year olds aren't thinking ahead, care too much about their own online brand, and have untrustworthy friends according to this article.

Both sides make great arguments. Millenials are digital natives and will be able to adapt to new technologies and user behavior a little quicker and easier than older folks. On the other side of the fence, more experienced marketing professionals have seen changes in their industries and have more business knowledge than a lot of millenials have had a chance to learn.  At the end of the day...

WHO CARES HOW OLD THEY ARE?

There are really talented, educated and reliable 25 year olds out there.  I know several 25 year olds that are more dependable than people who have been working for 20 years. They have a strong business maturity and make well-informed decisions when guiding social. Then there are several 40+ year old folks that I know personally that understand social well beyond my own personal understanding. They get it, are active and go a fantastic job in the space.

At the end of of the day, the date on your birth certificate isn't an indicator of job performance in social. It's skill, maturity and an never-ending willingness to learn.

So let's get off the age requirement soapbox and get back to work. Cool?

The Future of Community Management

The Future of Community Management

Over the last few years, social media has evolved from an idea that only the most bold and courageous marketers faced to a more sophisticated and mature way of doing marketing. It's moved beyond its "test and learn" phase and is becoming interwoven into a lot of business models. Social is no longer a way to simply extend marketing, it's a way to do business. As a younger person still cutting his teeth, it's been a fun evolution to watch. For a lot of people out there around my age who work in social on the agency side, many of us play the role of "community manager." We are the ones acting as the voice of the brands, interacting with brand participants, writing content and responding to posts. As a community manager, you take complete ownership of the brand and probably know its ins and outs better than anyone and have your thumb on the pulse of their community.

That said, I don't believe the community manager role inside of agencies as we know it today will exist in five years.

Abundant Career Growth

I don't think this is a job risk for people my age. Inside the agency world, the career path for a community manager is ripe for opportunity. Eventually, social media won't be as specialized of a task as it is now. Creative directors, account execs and project managers will all be ones that also know the social landscape. It'll just be one other thing everyone will know how to navigate (some better than others). As a community manager at Engauge, I know I had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our creative team on concepts, how to break down KPIs and successes with our analytics team, client budget and SOW work from our account folks and even had a significant amount of client-facing time educating our clients on what was new in the social landscape. These experiences have helped me learn something across disciplines, widely opening up doors for career growth for myself and others who work in similar roles as me.

Today's community managers will be tomorrow's media buyers, account directors, or even (gasp) developer team leads. Agencies that survive in the future will be the ones that are inherently social in knowledge and don't have to lean on a couple of people for a wide bucket of information.

So What Will Social Agencies Do?

I could be wrong (after all, I'm 25 and making business predictions) but social agencies won't get their bread and butter from community management. As companies and brands continue to grow, they'll most likely hire their own internal teams for the actual managing of communities. The burden of responding to fans and engaging will fall on the brand and not the agency. It's already starting to happen in some cases and will continue.

Agencies will continue to find value in their consultative services. Helping define the brand voice and tone for social pages. Providing creative content that works in social but remains consistent with other marketing initiatives the brand is taking. Helping with development of tabs, landing pages, Open Graph apps and data collection to help brands send more effective and targeted messages. Agency partners will also help set up and train larger corporations who may have many chains or sub-companies maintain a consistent voice across their entire enterprise system (like what Edeleman Digital wrote about here).

At the end of the day, agencies should stay valuable through the creative thinking they can provide their clients. Not the day-to-day management.

I'm A Community Manager....Now What?

As a community manager today, don't be content to just be the content writer and responder. Learn more about how businesses in general can be inherently social. Learn how to speak the same language as your developer co-workers next to you. Find ways to grow your skill set outside of Facebook and Twitter. In today's economy and rapidly changing landscape, developing your agility to learn how social also fits into other skill sets will make you tremendously valuable in the future.

I truly believe today's "digital natives" have a leg up on the competition years down the road (provided they continue to learn and grow their skills).

What do you think tomorrow's community manager will be?

"We are the future"

Want to know how to plan long term for marketing? You know, beyond the pitch you're making next week or the campaign with the short run results? This video sums up what future consumers will not want - but expect- from brands in the future. It's right at two minutes long and a good watch. Hat tip to @lizazzolino for passing this along.

How do you fuel innovation?

How do you fuel innovation?

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Last Thursday at Engauge, we hosted an event that was the first of any kind that I've experienced there in the last year: #fuelinnovation.

The event had one underlying theme: cereal. Weeks leading up to the event, @ktmel had all of us at Engauge leverage the #fuelinnovation hashtag and take photos of the breakfast cereals we ate every morning. After a week or so, an Eventbrite was sent out to the public inviting anyone up to our office to network, take in some presentations and enjoy their favorite bowl of cereal.

Why cereal?

Cereal is a product of marketing innovation. The reason cereal even exists as a product is because of smart marketing. You can learn more about the history of cereal via this infographic here. Event organizers @ktmel and @jessicacarruth took the concept of innovation with cereal and applied it to a marketing-driven event.

The event was a lot of fun. Case-Mate and Scoutmob showed up with demo stations and @adamnaide served as the official cereal barista of the night. In addition, @nicola_smith22gave a fantastic presentation on the evolution

of innovative thinking while @ratpack brought the night home with a hilarious yet informative presentation covering gamification, badges and the newest things in social TV.

As part of the event, @juliacantor and I had the opportunity to present the second talk called "Social Networking to Social Niche-working." We covered topics ranging from the importance of content curation to niche social networks. You can check out our presentation here below. Julia and I were both thrilled to be part of the 150+ person event.

So...how do you fuel innovation?

Check out how Instagram captured the event here or the Twitter conversations here