A recent study (by ClickZ for the Online Marketing Institute program) suggests a tremendous GAP between what you NEED to make your social media marketing successful and the skills you have to help. Of course, this skill gap is often greater with SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) who too often use their cousin’s kid (who is on Facebook, after all) or an inexpert agency because they’re cheap — you’ll find that “cheap” agency is actually very expensive when you consider the opportunity cost of lost business.
The analytics gap
Based on surveys of what’s important for social media marketing success, analytics shows the biggest talent gap — 37%. That’s a huge gap and analytics is also seen as the most important skill necessary for social media marketing success.
And, agencies are doing even worse than in-house social media teams. 54% of agencies admit their social media team is strong in some areas, but weak in others. Most notably, agencies lack skills in mobile and analytics.
These 3 types of content also represent critical elements for social media marketing success. Yet, skill gaps for these functions are nearly 30%.
With Google’s Hummingbird algorithm changes, the content gap is even more serious.
Developing an integrated content management strategy across the web, social platforms, and email marketing is even more challenging. Unfortunately, this integration is unlikely, as many agencies and in-house marketing departments use DIFFERENT groups for each function. For instance, web content is developed by the IT department (as is the web design, which makes it inappropriate as a marketing tool), social media is managed by the PR folks, and social media by marketing. Needless to say, these 3 groups don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on what should be done to effectively manage social media MARKETING.
But, the days of creating static websites are gone — killed by Google Panda and Penguin updates, and buried by Hummingbird. For a brief history of these algorithm changes, check out this post on Moz. Now, websites must be dynamic and interactive. They must contain valuable content — especially rich media content like video.
The mobile marketing gap
Over 20% of users use a smartphone or tablet to access websites and social media in 2013 (Q1) — and that number grew by 100% over the same time period in 2012. Likely mobile will continue to grow and it’s growth likely will speed up — not decline.
Creating mobile websites (or responsive websites that conform based on device) is not an option. In fact, Google now includes mobile responsiveness as a criterion in determining page rank.
Obviously, talent gaps among members of your social media team — whether in-house or agency — limit your ability to achieve social media success.
Without needed skills, your social media team leaves money on the table — by not converting potential buyers — and may even cause serious damage to your brand image.
And, this talent gap likely becomes BIGGER over time, as social media campaigns increasingly need better, more advanced skills to promote success.
Frankly, social media skills are new. Until about 5 years ago, no one even thought about social media as a viable marketing channel and social media marketing is undergoing growing pains as it changes more quickly than business responses.
At universities, we’re not training marketing folks with the requisite technical and analytics skills to satisfy business demand. And, we’re not cross-training IT professionals with the necessary skills to manage business intelligence and with some marketing savvy.
Social media marketing is also dynamic and what worked last year, might fail horribly this. So, even folks trained in effective social media marketing, need to constantly learn just to stay current. Unfortunately, many training alternatives are also seriously deficient in skills.
The most serious challenge for the future, as I see it, is the potential for social media marketing to be handled as inefficiently as traditional marketing — where analytics or strategic skills are often lacking. Too many firms and agencies hire folks to do their marketing who have NO marketing background or training. For instance, hiring folks who know business intelligence, doesn’t mean they understand marketing and the nuances of WHAT to measure to achieve marketing success. Without serious consumer behavior knowledge, analytics don’t do much good. Or, firms hire folks who write well, which doesn’t necessarily translate into writing the RIGHT things — words that motivate readers to action, while providing value to the reader.
Whether you need a complete social media marketing strategy or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel or developing a market information system that matches your needs. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.