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Hi, I'mKevin Shoffner

Is digital marketing and social media really a job?

As a digital marketing consultant for over 10 years, a freelancer for over 15, and being employed in corporate, non-profit, small business, and in all sectors of employment there is one thing about being a digital guru that stays the same: social media isn’t a “real” job… Or is it???

I’ve found that most people and clients can’t wrap their heads around the idea that digital marketing, especially social media, could possibly be a real job.

The irony is everybody thinks it would be a cool job to have, but they look at you with the skepticism of someone evaluating an employee at a hardware store actually being a general contractor or a waiter who says she’s an actor.

Here are 5 reasons why this happens:

    1. Your job is something most people do for fun.  Most people’s experience with social media sharing pictures about their dinner, creeping on their old high school classmates or trolling people about politics. The concept of having a job that allows you to do that all day seems impossible. “It must be nice to be on social media all day,” or they say, “you are always on your phone doing something.
    2. People confuse social networking and social media all of the time. Confusing social networking and social media marketing are like confusing someone who clicks the TV remote with someone who makes TV ads. Social “networking” is keeping in touch with friends and family, finding new things, reading the news (real or fake) and sharing. Social “media” and digital marketing involves taking advantage of people’s need to do that and persuading them and their friends to buy your stuff in the process. Targetting people to your services and products, then convincing those people your brand is the best for their want/need and then converting them.
      Why should a person buy your box of semi-prepared meals instead of the other cleverly named company that does the same thing? Why should a potential donor give to your non-profit this year (or longer) instead of the other non-profit? How do you target the right people with your marketing dollars to buy into your brand? Easy – with lots of strategic planning, targeting the right groups, and of course marketing dollars…
    3. Good social media marketing happens under most people’s radars. You cannot force your product, service, or brand on people. People don’t realize that when they watch a video, comment and got a comment back, enter a contest or get an issue resolved with their favorite brand on social media, a real-life human (you the marketing guru) are on the other end. They think it was actually the brand itself, personified, as if by social media sorcery. Although some may argue that the sorcery may possibly be a form of black magic.
      When they find themselves researching a certain brand because they thought that video their friend sent was funny, reposting it and commenting on a thread about how other people love the brand, even though it costs more than the leading brand that does the same thing, they have no idea you made that happen.
      Speaking of sorcery, my next point…
    4. Your job is hard to explain without sounding like a boring wizard. The truth is social media management isn’t as intriguing as it seems. People may ask you about it, but by the time you get through the list of all the things you really do, they’ve lost interest and are snapping a picture to post on their own social account. Or they do not consider the amount of new content you must create or develop to stay “fresh” and “relevant” is a never-ending battle… Maybe not as bad as laundry when you have 3 small kids, but pretty damn close.
      The flip side is their expectation that you can perform amazing feats of wizardry and get instant “likes”, “followers” and “comments” with a wave of your magical social media wand. They’re often disappointed when they find out you’re going to need more time, money or at least something that has a strategy behind it. Yes, the strategy behind 99% of posts and tweets. Yes, every post and picture needs to have a purpose.
    5. You must show the connection between social media and conversions. This is usually the most difficult topic for any digital marketing specialist, no matter the product or service. Although things have grown over the last 5-10 years in tracking, it’s still hard for a lot of brands, businesses and especially startups to draw a direct line between social media activity and conversions. This is a huge problem for job security.Most of the time you may find yourself spending more time selling yourself and your department to the CEO and CFO than selling the brand, but some advice I give to others – keep your head in the game and take every opportunity to show results large and small. Although it’s not recommended to do often, yes some times you might have to show “vanity metrics” and pretty graphs… Be prepared to talk about things like what’s the goals, what’s the expectations, and timeline to re-evaluate. At that point, excluding anything else the organization did, did conversions go up? If so, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, stop and figure out what went wrong. Stop doing the things that didn’t work and do more of the ones that did. It’s “simple” – ha, ha, ha.

Thanks for your time and let me know your thoughts on what it’s like to be a digital marketing or social media manager.

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