What are the most important social media marketing skills that graduating college students need to understand?
I'm asking three questions of some leaders in the field of social marketing and these posts tell what I've learned. This is No. 21 in the series.
Today: David Amerland, the author of several books including The Social Media Mind, SEO Help, Online Marketing Help and Brilliant SEO. He speaks on social media, maintains a blog (Help My SEO) and can be found on Twitter as @davidamerland.
Don't focus too heavily on the technology, says Amerland.
"The technology moves so fast that focusing your skillsets around specific platforms (like Facebook or G+, for example) is self-defeating and will only help you feel dated and out of touch faster," he says.
"It is easy to lose sight of the wood for the trees and go for shiny new toys here. The truth, however, is that social marketing is marketing."
Marketing is still about connecting products with customers and skilled marketers are those who understand what they need to do and then work out the best channel to do it through, Amerland says.
"Hone the skills which allow you to pick this out in any situation and you should never want for lack of a job in marketing," he adds.
"Having said that," Amerland says, "Social marketing does have some very specific tropes which are new to this era.
"One is speed of response. You can go from a mistake to a full blown social media crisis in 24 hours and this is unprecedented.
"Another is transparency. Marketing, these days, has to be done in the plain light of day, so to speak," he says.
"It's no good putting out a polished, finished message and expect an encouraging response if, first, you have not somehow included your target audience in the mechanics of your marketing campaign."
To be successful social marketers need to know how to project real authenticity as opposed to manufacturing sincerity," Amerland says.
"They may not be slick or perfectly finished in what they do but they are always engaging and it is engagement which really matters." he says.
And how important is social marketing as part of the marketing mix? "It is hugely important but it depends upon the product and target audience," Amerland says.
"The campaigns which do best are integrated marketing campaigns which make digital marketing appear as natural as print.
"The trick (if we call it that) is to create a narrative which unlocks the potential of each medium and contributes or reinforces the way the target audience interacts with it.
"Today's successful marketing campaigns employ a strong gamification element," he says.
"Which makes partners of marketers and marketed to produce closer alignment to what each wants to achieve with the other."
So, what do you think? How important will social marketing be in the future and what MUST graduating students know?