Do you deserve to be called a social media marketing pro?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a growing number of marketing pros tag themselves as “social media marketers,” but few stop and define what they mean by that. The question is, what defines a social media marketer, anyway?

Here’s my take on the ideal social media marketer:

* They’re people who are intimately familiar key social media communities (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), with lots of real connections there and experience with a given service’s back channels.

* They’re knowledgeable about social network advertising options, including Facebook pages, apps and PPC-style ads, MySpace pages, video advertising on YouTube and PPC ad integration on B2C services like Flickr and Squidoo.

* They’re experienced at (or at least familiar with) Internet marketing in other contexts, including banner placement, e-mail, SEO, PPC campaigns, copywriting for the Web and affiliate marketing.

* They’re extremely current with Web 2.0 news, both traditional and bloggish, and can shift strategies on a dime based on what they learn.

The big question I haven’t addressed here is whether one can call themselves a social media marketer if they’ve never run a major campaign on these networks. (People who specialize in B2B, like myself, are particularly unlikely to have run such campaigns–our clients are not usually the early adopter type.)

Should we stay out of the fray until we’ve spent real money on this medium? Sounds good in theory, but that would pretty much shrink the profession down to a few fortunate folks whose clients/employers are way ahead of the curve.

OK, now it’s your turn. What core skills do you think marketers should have before they hang out the “social media marketer” shingle? Why? And do you think the social media marketing profession needs an association of its own?

Please feel free to comment or write to me at annezieger at…I definitely don’t want the last word here!


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8 responses to “Do you deserve to be called a social media marketing pro?

  1. Great post!

    I think it might help if you differentiate between “knowledgeable” and “pro”. In the world of sports you are not called a pro until you actually get paid to do your sport.

    I think there are many very knowledgeable people in the SMM world but if you haven’t executed a social media strategy, campaign, tactic or whatnot for a client then how can you call yourself a professional?

    Which maybe yields another question, can you be an “expert” without being a “professional”?

  2. I think part of being a Social Media Marketing Pro/Expert is showing the value of social media to “our clients [who] are not usually the early adopter type”.

    A Social Media Marketing Pro should also act as a translator for the client and should be able to provide resources to help steepen the learning curve once the appropriate avenues are chosen.

    I also agree that having core Internet Marketing skills is essential to Social Media Marketing. Within my own company (A cross-media marketing company) we have integrated Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing as there are a lot of cross-overs.

  3. I think your notion that there are few “experts” in this emerging field is right on. Regardless of your “expertise” in social media, I think that half the battle is having operated in it. Do you have a blog? A MySpace page? A Facebook page? A podcast? So much of learning this stuff is actually doing it.

    I would not discount someone’s insight who has not officially launched a $100,000 social media campaign. As a marketer, I am constantly surprised that the most important and relevent insights on marketing come from the audience, not the marketing professionals. Translate that to social media and you have a case for mere users possesing a great deal of knowledge about how to effectively use social media.

  4. I don’t consider myself an expert on social media, I’m just a guy trying to get a grip on social media, dig a little deeper and try to understand and connect. I do however qualify your 4 requirements 🙂
    I’m not so sure it’s about running $100,000 campaigns. Social media doesn’t really work with a grand strategy and campaign launch. It is somewhat organic. It’s not selling or spying. It’s about understanding people, potential users, being a friend, finding some truth on thoughts and perception. It’s not an online survey where you stand to win a prize after completing it. Its raw, simple and all about people.

    The key is ‘to listen’, you have to listen to what people are saying and contribute to the conversation in a way that is appropriate and adds value.

    More on my blog:

  5. I think an SM specialist carries the ability not only to be versatile, but can address what’s LACKING. What is it that people need MORE of? A stop ‘selling’ and start ‘giving’ concept.

    In essence, this IS equal to marketing.

    Thanks for the article. It’s always great analytics to hear anothers angle on what is still so very new and exciting.

  6. Personally I think a true social marketeer is someone who have a hollistic approach. By this I mean one who sees the whole picture and isn’t just focused on one or two networks/methods, but can bring a hugh array of methods and networks into a campaign.

  7. The core skills that you listed above seem quite adequate to me if you want to hang out the Social Media Marketing Pro shingle. We all have to start somewhere, and the only way to grow is to be deeply involved in it. If you love the SMM arena, I believe you’d offer a great service. Doing what you love exponentially increases your talents.

    Your greatest test would be to use SMM to market yourself in the field, would it not?

    Best Wishes!

  8. For sure, there are experts – a few great companies who have gone in early, and secured large brands to venture into this new channel.

    As brand/marketing folk, we think this is just another great tool in our chest. We ARE marketing ourselves through SMM, and have shown some good, measurable results from the campaigns.

    If we couldn’t do it for ourselves, and show results for our clients (on whatever level determined), then I don’t really think we could counsel others with confidence.

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