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What’s next? 8 career paths for social media managers

Social media managers wear many hats, filling necessary and strategic roles ranging from marketing specialist to customer care provider. Engaging with audiences, addressing comments and complaints, and staying true to a brand’s voice is a never-ending, but critical endeavor in the digital age.

But what about when you’re ready to take the next step?

Fortunately, working in social media builds a broad range of transferable skills. Research, analytics, creativity and communication all provide strong foundations for social media managers thinking about their next big career move.

What’s next for social media managers, and what are the skills necessary to take steps towards a new job title? Here are eight career paths to consider, and how to get there.

1. Community management

For those attracted to the connectivity of social, community management widens the scope of brand networking and is a great next step for the social media manager. As a community manager, you’ll focus on fostering relationships with your brand’s audience through additional channels like forums, newsletters and events.

Communities aren’t limited to only your customers, either. Developers, tech support and brand advocates all have commonalities which can be leveraged to build connections within an organization. These communities can work, learn and grow together—all while moving the brand to new heights.

Consider this role if:

  • You want to grow and nurture a community that contributes to long-term business impact.
  • You enjoy interacting with people online and prioritize customer trust above all else.
  • You have strong internal and external communication skills.
Social media careers - community managementIf you’re interested in community management and looking for a great resource to answer questions like the one above, check out the CMX Hub group on Facebook to connect with other like-minded social pros.

2. Marketing generalist

Want to branch out from social, but still not sure which discipline is right for you? A marketing generalist role is perfect for social media managers looking to transition to something new.

Small and mid-market businesses are always looking for a Jack (or Jill!) of all trades who can meet a variety of marketing needs from email marketing to writing to social strategy, and 78% of marketing leaders say they they need both specialists and generalists on their team. Roles in this vein might have titles like marketing specialist, digital marketing coordinator or marketing associate.

A marketing generalist will try their hand at everything. They’ll build a deeper understanding across multiple disciplines like product, brand and content marketing but also have an opportunity to manage projects. And while the marketing generalist will learn a number of new skills across functions, all generalists should have a strong foundation in certain areas. To be successful in this role, you should have a strong foundation in writing, research, data analysis and project management.

Consider this role if:

  • You’re eager to explore multiple disciplines under the marketing umbrella.
  • You aren’t ready to specialize in one area but want to open up more career options for the future.
  • You consider yourself a team player who values organization and management.

3. Content marketing

For social media managers who find the most joy in creating content, a career in content marketing could be the perfect next step. Unlike the character-count restraints often associated with social content creation, content marketing offers an outlet for every marketer’s creative proclivity. And like social, the field of content marketing is growing: A study by Conductor found that there was a 112% increase in content marketing job openings from 2018 to 2019.

social media careers - content marketingMost content marketing professionals will get their start with content writing in the form of blog posts, website copy, emails and newsletters. Beyond the obvious writing skills needed, it’s useful to have a working knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) and familiarity with publishing platforms like WordPress.
You’ll also be faced with a choice of two paths to take within the content marketing space: Do you want to strictly produce content? Or is developing strategy more in line with your goals? Either way, successful content marketers are expected to not only create great works but to also manage, analyze and iterate for future content.
Consider this role if:
You have a passion for storytelling and want to explore content creation outside of the social space.
You’re looking for an opportunity to combine creativity with analytics.
You have strong research skills to complement your long-form writing ability.
4. Creative design
For social media managers with an eye for great visual content, a career in the creative department combines social know-how with artistic passion. If your favorite content is the most aesthetically pleasing, or you can tell with one look whether an image is on-brand, then art direction or graphic design sound right up your alley.
Social media careers creative designerThis role involves more than just creating photos and graphics. As a designer or art director, you’ll contribute to the development of the brand’s visual language, tone and creative elements. In addition to creating graphics and other assets, designers are responsible for ensuring all creative outputs are aligned with a brand’s key messaging and will often collaborate with video and motion graphics teams on multimedia projects. Designers need to have strong creative skills, but they also need to bring business skills like exceptional interpersonal abilities and strategic thinking to the table. If you’re someone with a deep understanding of the latest creative trends, are able to solve hard problems and have an overall interest in the visual field, a design career may be in your future.
Consider this role if:
You have excellent communication skills and work well with a number of teams across marketing.
You have a passion for combining creativity with social marketing to achieve business objectives.
5. Social media consulting
If you feel like you’ve become a bit of a social media marketing expert, consider the role of a social media consultant. In this role, you’ll manage multiple client relationships and advise a variety of brands on how to build and deploy their social strategies. As a consultant, you’ll be helping clients develop their presence online and directly impact goals like raising awareness and increasing website traffic.

Social media consultants are often freelancers or self-employed. Businesses hiring consultants are looking for an objective but informed eye; someone who has something productive to say about their marketing strategy. Consultants are excellent at identifying problems and coming up with solutions. If that’s you, it may be time to research demand for your skills and business ownership resources available to you. Or, if you prefer to work with a team, look for strategist roles at an agency where you’ll work with a range of clients.

This role is right for you if:

  • You enjoy helping others solve hard problems and bringing thoughtful solutions to the table.
  • You’re able to flex to different industries or business needs and support others in achieving their long-term social goals.
  • You’re a social media expert and know how to supplement your knowledge with additional research.

6. Data analysis or market research

Identifying and understanding the right audience are necessary elements of any successful social strategy. Social media managers have plenty of experience interacting with customers, community members and other groups, laying firm groundwork towards career growth in market research. Learning how to design and conduct research, as well as analyze results, can easily transform a social media career into something more data-centered.

Social media analysts already leverage information to identify trends, make predictions, and better connect with audiences. Transferring skills learned from social media listening and analyzing campaign results make springboarding into an analyst role a real possibility. Successful analysts have a strong grasp on both qualitative and quantitative data and can communicate their insights to key stakeholders in an easy, digestible way.

Consider this role if:

  • You live and breathe data—all of your decisions are backed by numbers.
  • You’re able to spot and measure trends within the social media landscape.
  • You go beyond basic tracking and enjoy analyzing data to make more educated business decisions.

7. Brand strategy

As a social media manager, you’re likely already familiar with brand strategy. It’s what defines a brand’s voice and tone; informs the messaging you use when talking about the brand; and enhances the brand’s overall reputation. And as someone already trusted to manage a brand’s social media presence, making the leap from social media to brand strategy is a logical next step.

Strategists combine audience data, marketing trends and creativity to create long-term marketing strategies for brands. They help develop positioning recommendations and define brand elements and style guidelines, ensuring consistent messaging across platforms and assets. In addition to excellent communication skills, the best brand strategists can conduct competitive research, are up to date on market trends and have strong critical thinking skills. As a brand strategist, you’ll take a step back from focusing solely on social strategy and look at how social media fits into the bigger picture.

Consider this role if:

  • You enjoy thinking about the big picture and how various marketing initiatives ladder up to the overall brand goal.
  • You’re a problem solver at heart with a knack for uncovering key insights that inform overall strategy development.

8. Leading a social team

If you’ve been working in social for a while, odds are you’ve developed an idea of what it takes to make a social media team click. Even better, you’ve probably learned some lessons about what doesn’t contribute to team cohesion and motivation.

Taking on a leadership role means giving up hands-on control of social media management. Your focus will shift from publishing social content to managing a team doing the publishing for you. As a leader or manager, you’ll provide direction, support and feedback to direct reports and work with your team to develop their professional growth.

Switching to a leadership role does call for multiple hard and soft skills, like being able to set goals, recognize talent and motivate a team even as targets change. If you’re still on the fence about pursuing a leadership position, consider participating in mentorship programs and developing your team-building skills.

Consider this role if:

  • You’re looking to move into a more hands-off role that is still closely involved in the social media landscape.
  • You’re passionate about nurturing the growth of those around you.
  • You enjoy providing constructive feedback to others and have a knack for motivating your peers.

While many social media managers feel stuck at some point in their career, it’s clear that they don’t have to stay there. If anything, working in social provides the convenient problem of having many career paths to choose from. With so many options, which will you choose?

This post What’s next? 8 career paths for social media managers originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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