Two years ago, those of us using social media on a daily basis for business purposes were having a disagreement.
Back then, one of the biggest questions facing marketing pros utilizing social media was who owns it. What function – marketing, PR or advertising – was best suited to make social media a meaningful endeavor for business. Of course the answer depended on who you were talking to. A PR pro would tell you their function was best suited to lead conversations with consumers. A brand marketer would tell you they have the research and metrics to guide them to the best way. Lastly, advertisers had been slicing and dicing consumers for hundreds of years, so they were best suited.
Luckily, we’re all past that. Anyone worth a damn in marketing knows the answer is all three. Toss in a community function, customer service and research, and social media has become a integrated marketing function dependent on all of them. This convergence in social media form and function is now being seen in the hiring practices of large and mid-size companies.
A great example is my old employer, Intuit. When I left Intuit, my role was filled by my good friend and coworker Christine Morrison. Christine didn’t have a communications background per se, but she is a savvy and accomplished social marketer. Her skill set bleeds past the normal marketing role so it made sense to have her serve as a more hybrid social media marketer/communicator. This is becoming more and more common as companies realize the skills are very similar and useful.
We’re also seeing many people who have more PR experience than marketing experience fill social media and online marketing roles. Because they are digital evangelists on the cutting-edge of social media and online marketing themselves, the line between traditional communications roles and marketing rules has blurred significantly. And, in many ways, communications professionals are the perfect fit for these roles as they live and breath conversation.
Either way, the convergence of online marketing and communications is upon us. It’s my view, because of this development, this convergence will lead to some amazing work for the world’s best known brands from an amazing crop of up-and-coming social marketers.