How To Be Eternally Indispensable In Your Social Media Job

Now that there’s only a smidgen left of 2013, it’s fair to say that the year wasn’t a giant win for social media marketers — at least in terms of public perception.

Up until recently, brands have been clamoring to shore up a social media staff and extol the business-saving virtues of Twitter, Facebook and the like. But this year brought a slight change of heart.

In 2013, we were too whiny. We were, um, less than bright (actual phrasing NSFW, as is that link). No one believed we had real jobs. Entire accounts were created only to mock us.

The social media editor fell. The social media manager died.

We acted like this:

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We looked like this:


Is it any wonder a recent New York Times profile of Gary Vaynerchuk brought this choice nugget?

There are now so many social media experts out there that some of them renounce the label.

“Look at any tech conference,” said Peter Shankman, a social media consultant who rejects the social-media-expert tag. “Anyone can call themselves that. It’s just too easy.”

Is Social Media Over?

So, what does all this animosity mean? Have we ridden this sweet hashtag gravy train to its final destination? Are we all going to end up jobless in 2014?

Actually, the social media backlash is right on time — and it’s just what real social media marketers need.

With so much hype surrounding social media marketing over the past few years, it was inevitable that the bloom eventually would be off the rose.

Social media has been the cronut of marketing — everybody wanted it, even if they didn’t know exactly what it was.

But no more! Social media has been fêted, celebrated, mocked and (by some) discarded. Now we’ve reached the liberation phase.

Only now can it finally become what it’s always been to those of us who knew better: just one strategy — albeit a creative and promising one — in a well-rounded marketer’s arsenal.

The Future Is Bright

The social media manager isn’t dead — just evolving. And no one who’s truly invested in all facets of the job should have much to worry about in the future.

Because, as we who do it for a living know better than anyone, social media is more than just putting a hashtag on things, willing a video to “go viral” or being on Twitter all day.

Social Media is Communications

Developing the right voice and tone for your brand and understanding what types of content to curate and share are crucial social media tasks.

Social Media Is Content Marketing

Social media is built on hundreds of pieces of micro-content, and each needs to be optimized to make readers want to click. Not to mention most social media managers are avidly blogging, too.

Social Media Is PR

Social media done well is far more than shouting out sales messages. It’s vital for building strong relationships with customers and influencers who can advocate for your brand and spread your message – showing a fair amount of overlap with and support of traditional public relations.

Social Media Is Advertising

With paid media bleeding ever more into earned media as social networks learn to monetize, even the purest of social media marketers has likely dipped a toe into the paid side with options like Facebook sponsored posts. Others are going even deeper, dominating the Power Editor and running full Twitter campaigns.

Social Media Is Customer Service

Perhaps the biggest evolution in social media is how it has enabled real-time customer service. Social media managers who spend their time answering questions, solving problems and creating a better experience for customers are invaluable.

Social Media Is Analytics

Likes and follows don’t make you indispensable. Being able to connect social media posts to engagement to traffic to conversions to measure their worth? That does.

Social Media Is Product Development

Since social media is on the front lines of customer service, hearing customer wants and needs straight from the source, it naturally also has a role in coming up with solutions and ideas for new products.

Social Media Is Psychology

Knowing what’s going to resonate with an audience doesn’t come easy – it takes empathy, a deep understanding of relationships and plenty of boning up on the psychology of how readers consume and share content.

Social Media Is Optimization

Findability – historically the home base of SEO – is encroaching into social media, too. Facebook is now in the search game with Graph Search, while Google has added SEO urgency to its social media network by indexing Google+ comments in search results. The result? Social media marketers cross-trained on basic SEO principles.

Social Media Is All These Things

And social media marketers – evolving along with their medium – have learned to be adept at all these things.

Even if you’re on a large marketing team where these roles are filled by other folks to allow you to specialize, chances are you work closely enough with them to have a strong understanding of all these skills.

Names and titles may change. Fads come and go. The cronut yields to the ramen burger.

But social media marketing is no passing fad. It’s entrenched in nearly every marketing discipline, which means that even while The Onion is mocking social media rock stars, we’re still getting stuff done.

As long as we keep evolving, social media managers are naturally cross-trained and perfectly attuned to the next big marketing thing – whatever it turns out to be.

(Image via CollegeHumor. Used with permission.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | How To Guides: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is a content crafter at Buffer. She has been an editor and writer at publications including Allure, Time Out New York, Playboy and The Tennessean. She speaks frequently on social media marketing and community management topics.

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  • Rob Odell

    Hey Courtney,

    I love the positivity in this article. Incredibly sharp insights about how to be useful as a “Social Media Expert” or whatever title may come next. I’ll certainly be referencing this frequently to ensure I haven’t lost sight of what matters and am perpetually evolving. Can’t wait for future posts and to be in a position to use RavenTools again in the future!

  • RavenCourtney

    Thanks, Rob! That’s SO awesome to hear. And yes, do drop me a line when you take Raven for a spin again in the future!

  • Jason Diller

    Great post Courtney! In 5 years it won’t be called social media… it will just be called “media”. Gonna share this around my team.


  • RavenCourtney

    Thanks, Jason! You summarized my thoughts perfectly with your comment! :)

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I think social media today is much like SEO was just a few years ago. There is no real barrier to entry and anyone can call themself an expert/guru/maven with no one to stop them. As the industry matures those with real skills and real value rise to the top and the noise makers fall away.

  • Jeremy Rivera

    If the Onion is roasting your profession, you’re doing something right!

  • RavenCourtney

    Ha! Words to live by. :)

  • RavenCourtney

    You’re absolutely right. The process many not be painless, but it will most likely do what needs to be done.


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