Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, February 16, 2012

During the latter part of 2011, I’ve involved in interviewing few people for our agency and for one of our clients, for vacancies in few social and digital media positions. One hard fact I realized in this exercise was, it’s not really easy to find at least a few ‘employable’ people for social media positions in Sri Lanka. In fact, we realized this gap of knowledge in Sri Lanka about a couple of years ago, and that was the driving factor behind my friend Suranga’s initiative in eBusiness Acadamy (EBA).

When interviewing social media professionals, I came up with two main barriers.

1) Most of the people who applied are having basic qualifications in IT related disciplines, and having no flair at marketing
2) Qualified people in marketing are disinterested in applying for social media positions , and largely were under the impression ‘social media is a job for the techie type’

A noticeable third observation was, the level of overconfidence of the handful few who were more qualified than the rest of the applicants.

The myth of “social media is a high tech thing” is an annoying perception I see everywhere I go. Take me for an example; I still feel nervous to format my PC all by myself and reinstall the OS, so I hire a PC service person to do the job. At least ten times in my seven years career, I faced the embarrassing situation of not being able to set up the multi-media projector properly, during an important presentation that I had to deliver. You define it in whatever the way you would like, ‘I AM NOT THE HIGH TECH TYPE AT ALL’. But yet everywhere I go, at least a couple of people ask me the question “How did you get into a job in IT field?”. [Sentiment self censored]
Coming back to the topic, let’s try to figure out the best qualifications and characteristic you should look for, when you hire someone for a social media position at your company.

1. A Social Media Marketer is a Marketer
“A social media manager is a marketer first and is now specializing in this new online marketing avenue” says Karriann Graf on this post. I couldn’t agree more with this statement, and this address the most basic problem we face over here in Sri Lanka. When I say “Marketer”, you need not to be necessarily a a BSc or MBA in Marketing, or CIM/SLIM qualified marketer. A marketer is defined by his or her ability to convince other people to believe/trust in you, without irritating them. (Well, the ‘irritation’ draws the line between a marketer and a salesperson)

2. Believing in the cause
A person who doesn’t believe in the idea that “Social Media is here to stay”, can never be a good Social Media marketer. If you are to use Social Media to market your brand, you need to be first of all confident about the tools you are going to use.

3.You must be an actual consumer of Social Media
I know this one is a debatable one, but I believe it is highly important for someone to be a passionate user of social media, before he or she can become a social media marketer. Someone who does not update his or her personal Facebook status at least once a week, or regularly engage with his/her friends in comment threads, can never do the same for a brand. That’s simple as that. Someone who is suppose to handle the Twitter profile for a brand, must first start his own personal Twitter account and at least attract a dozen of followers to engage in a conversation. Someone who doesn’t maintain a personal blog, cannot represent a brand to effectively engage with other bloggers in comment threads. The rule is simple… “Those who doesn’t do often, cant’ do well”

4. Reads books, blogs, and online resources about new media trends
If you are passionate about becoming a Social Media professional, you should not be bothered by spending $15 every three months or so, to purchase a latest Social Media book on Amazon.com. I recommend, “Engage” by Brian Solis, “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan/Julien Smith and “Personality Not Included” by Rohit Bhargava (All affiliate links, all I’ve read in person). If spending money on books is a problem, you should spend at least two hours a day reading articles on Mashable.com, SocialMediaToday.com and many other free social media resources you can find on the internet. Reading really sharpen your understanding about the subject.

5.Should be able to tolerate criticism, and should be patient and diplomatic
Social Media marketing is a different ball game, compared to traditional marketing jobs. I wrote this blog post about brand managers getting too much emotionally connected with their brands. If you are managing a social media presence of a brand, first thing you have to do is leaving aside your emotional feeling about the brand, and be open for criticism. When you schedule a TVC on national TV, interrupting a tense moment of a sports game, millions of viewers will curse your brand but you will never hear you. But, if you do a similarly annoying thing on social media, they will immediately give their responses and you will see it for yourself. Be ready to digest such nasty comments and tackle it patiently. Arrogance in responding to negative comments will kill your brand twice, not only once.

6.You should not be overly confident about your social media skills
I mentioned this earlier as well. Increasingly, we see a trend of people who accidently get into jobs in social media start acting like Profs of the game for several decades. In fact, ‘Web 2.0’ as a term was only coined during later 2004, and 'social media marketing' became a buzzword, only after that. Even if you count from that point onwards, the maximum number of years you can have behind a real pro is just 6 years. There are no veterans of the game! Everyone is learning, and I’m also one of them. The environment surrounding the field of social media, keeps on changing everyday so there cannot be people who ‘know everything about social media’. 

7.You should be ready to learn new things and unlearn what you already know
Yes, it’s true that no one knows everything about social media. But it’s also true that, knowing just a little bit is not sufficient to be a professional in the job. You should invest your own time, money, and energy to learn new things. This could be by discussing with your colleagues, reading books, blogs, or asking from someone. At the same time, you should be ready to ‘unlearn’ certain things you know, to accommodate more fruitful knowledge in your mind.

8. Integrity
Integrity is doing the right thing, even if the popular demand or the easiest way out is something else. This includes, adhering to rules and regulations put forward by social media platforms, when carrying out promotions.  If you are a social media marketing professional with integrity, you will not run a promotion asking people to write on your wall to win something. If you are a social media marketer with integrity, you will not post false complaints on competitor Facebook pages with fake profile ID’s, or ask bloggers to blog about you for a certain benefit and not disclose that it was an ‘incentivized post’.

Originally posted on www.amisampath.com Like this blog? Get email updates when I post next time, or subscribe to the feed on a reader. Follow me on Twitter @Amisampath 

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