Bridging the Skills Gap in Social Media
Question: What is now regarded as one of the top 3 essential digital skills for an organization's success but is usually found between a rock and a hard place?
Answer: Social media.
Are you surprised? I wasn't.
Consider this: Capgemini released a study reporting that 90% of jobs over the next year will require digital and social media skills.
Successful social media campaigns require the cross-over of several functional areas and right now, the demand for these is growing a lot faster than universities and formal education can fulfil with their supply.
In other words, we simply aren't seeing social media readiness coming from the people who need to fill in these positions, i.e. young graduates, aka the millenials.
It's a very interesting dichotomy. The millenials are the first generation to be digitally and technologically enabled since their birth. They will never have known a world that wasn't hyper-connected.
And yet, they're the generation that demonstrates the largest skills gap in this area.
Perhaps because there's a feeble understanding of what social media skills truly comprise of. We're now looking far beyond "excellent communication skills" or a "flawless ability for being organized" or even consistently maintained social media accounts. Think about it: how far can an update get you?
What we need are:
- People who can look at large swathes of data and interpret the numbers into meaningful insights,
- People who aren't afraid to utilize their creativity,
- People who are able to connect with their target demographics on a very personal level, and
- People who bring subject-matter expertise into their professional roles.
How do we, as an industry make this happen?
Hands-On Education: I've had a number of people approach me about sharing educational resources to increase their knowledge of digital marketing and social media. The trouble with recommending books about digital marketing is that by the time the knowledge is published, distributed, consumed and implemented, it's already in danger of becoming obsolete.
But universities and other centers of higher-education and vocational training have a distinct advantage with creating a ready workforce.According to Dr. Emily Kinsky, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at West Texas A&M University, "students need examples, practice and feedback" to bring them up to speed with the demands of social media.
As a former educator, I wholeheartedly agree.
Reframe Social Media: Here's another societal dichotomy. While millenials are the next generational wave that needs to fill the rapid creation of social media positions, they have also consistently received messages about how scary and full of trolls social media can be.
While all of that is true, we also need to show this generation how social media can be used to build connections, define experiences and fulfil business objectives without sacrificing their creative sparks.
Educate the Current Workforce: Working with social media and content marketing so closely over the last few years has made me a firm believer that training an existing workforce with new tools and developments can make a world of a difference to an organization's culture.
There are several organizations now that offer boot-camp training sessions to educate their employees about guidelines for using social media, best practices and compliance with brand messaging. Within these training sessions, you're also encouraging existing employees to use social media responsibly, in effect, creating a "social" culture on an organizational level.
Developing a workforce that's uniquely talented requires combining patience on our part as trainers and a willingness to learn on the part of the people who need to expand their skill sets. However we proceed, there's no denying that organizations need to take serious steps with bridging the prevalent skills gap.
Have you experienced this in your recruitment or day-to-day challenges? How are you coping with this growing demand? I'd love to hear more from you.
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