"Social Media isn't just a platform, it's a way of life"
This is the opinion Dara Nasr, managing director at Twitter UK, voiced at the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) 2016 Digital Summit - and it’s not one many of us would disagree with. Casting around the room, Dara highlighted that all 350 marketing professionals in the room were smartphone users.
Working in marketing, it would be almost impossible not to be.
For many of us, our exposure to social media began with early forays into Myspace or Bebo; a pixelated profile we’d check a couple of times a week, and a moody profile picture. A decade down the line and social media is, indeed, a way of life - and not one it’s easy to opt out of. The evolution of BYOD in workplaces, wearable tech and the internet of things (IoT) often means that to operate fully in the real world, you first need to be connected to Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other platforms.
The development of social media has changed so much about the world, not least how we are recruited and the way in which we apply for new roles. When your whole life - and history - is posted all over the web, how can you make yourself appealing to your dream employers?
We recently attended the CIM’s summit, which featured a number of high-profile speakers from the interlinked worlds of social media and marketing. From their insightful talks we pulled out a number of key takeaways that could help marketing applicants boost their online profiles and stand out as valuable marketers for companies to bring on board.
Before you start: Tidy up your profiles
Anyone looking for a job in marketing should be aware of the more obvious guidance when it comes to social media profiles. Having already scoped out your LinkedIn, potential employers will undoubtedly be Googling your name before making a hire, not to mention looking you up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and maybe even Snapchat!
Social-savvy individuals know that in this hyper-digital age, it is unwise to treat Facebook or Twitter with the same nonchalant attitude that they once did. Images of drunken university antics need to placed behind the highest Facebook security settings or deleted entirely, while getting into heated Twitter spats with anonymous eggs or pasting your more ‘out there’ political opinions all over the web is largely to be avoided. Marketing departments and agencies may often foster a laid-back atmosphere and quirky culture, but your employers still want to know that they are hiring an intelligent, mature professional.
After tidying up your social channels and burying anything that could reflect badly on you, you may come across as a perfectly acceptable candidate for your dream role. But is that enough? How can you use your social profiles to make yourself stand out from other applicants in a positive way?
Make it multi-platform, but consider your privacy settings
Speaking at the event Daniel Rowles, CEO at Target Internet, CIM course director and summit chair, underlined that in the first six months of 2016, five major platforms - Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and Pinterest - made over 600 interface and functionality changes.
That’s a lot to keep up with.
As a marketer, you want to be visible online, which means operating across a number of different online platforms - all of which showcase your own cohesive brand. It’s not just the content of your profiles itself that is important, but also using each one in an optimised way by getting to grips with the newest tools and updates, and keeping on top of trends.
One of the first things you need to consider is what platforms you want to be searchable and public on, and which you want to keep for your personal life. Facebook tends to be the most personal channel, so it’s a good idea to spend some time in settings tightening up your security, whereas Twitter and Instagram are often used for showing strangers who you are and what you’re about.
Whatever profiles you choose to show off to the world, just ensure you know what’s public and what’s not, and cultivate your public platforms with your own personal brand in mind.
Demonstrate personal development and plug that skills gap
In his talk, Daniel also highlighted the importance of looking at where the skills gaps lie, particularly in digital, SEO and social media, where more technical skills are required.
He said that the big question when recruiting in these areas is: “Do you hire someone fresh out of University with experience across digital and social channels and without the commercial experience or do you hire someone with the commercial experience and up skill your current workforce?”
He referred to e-learning courses which allow individuals to compare themselves and their current skill set with what is currently in demand in the marketing sector.
This brings up an important point. To execute a full marketing strategy requires the involvement of a number of people with different skill sets, including but not limited to strategy, data insights, editorial, social engagement, project management, outreach and PR, graphic design, animation, video and development.
One simple way to make yourself extremely appealing to employers in the marketing sector is to fit into more than just one of these boxes. Once you’ve developed your deep discipline - editorial, for example - you might want to upskill yourself by doing a course in social engagement or graphic design.
During your training, or once you’ve qualified, make sure you shout about this on social media - blog about your experience, or create some fun content using your new skill and share. Ensure you add your upskilling to LinkedIn and in any other work-related bios - training in your own time demonstrates not only that you’ll be valuable in a marketing role, but also that you’re ambitious and determined to make a career in marketing work for you.
We spoke to Daniel about how marketers can optimise their own social profiles to give themselves an edge when it comes to job hunting.
He explained that people should use themselves as a branding exercise to demonstrate that they know what they’re doing when it comes to social media.
He said: “A candidate’s social profiles and content really are their social footprint and the first thing many recruiters see. Therefore developing a robust online presence is essential in a competitive market.”
Daniel explained that in an environment where candidates applying for roles boast similar qualifications, real-world experience is clearly “the great differentiator”. However, this is no longer limited to work experience but also to “building a robust and professional social profile”.
“Employers will be looking for candidates that are aware of the impact their public social profiles can have, and that have managed them accordingly,” he said.
“A candidate with unused Twitter accounts, poor quality profile images and inappropriate content, clearly has not managed their social profile effectively.”
Daniel suggested that marketers create online content such as blog posts, YouTube videos or LinkedIn posts to demonstrate they are aware of the importance of influence. However, it’s not enough to simply rush out a few quick blogs as the quality of this content will also be important. This is all the more relevant when looking at current digital trends which show the volume of content decreasing in importance as the significance of quality shoots up.
He explained that many employers will go as far as to use social scoring tools like Klout to judge the influence of a candidate’s profiles and will expect to see robust scores.
“Candidates don’t need to be highly influential, but evidence of at least an average influence score demonstrates a healthy knowledge of social media,” he said.
Due to the real-time nature of social, content is constantly evolving. Once too many people (and brands) know about a trend - whether it be #EdBallsday, Bad Luck Brian or The Dress - it is effectively over. What was hot news on your morning commute will often be old news by the time you’re eating lunch, once the national news outlets have got hold of it and brands have hijacked it.
Speaking at the Digital Summit, George Bryant, founding partner at The Brooklyn Brothers, paid homage to the importance of ensuring marketing is relevant. The organisation’s brand agenda highlights the importance of being ‘relevance obsessed’ when it comes to marketing - placing this at the very forefront of its agenda.
So, how can marketers apply this concept when it comes to their own social profiles and demonstrate to potential employers that they’re up-to-date with the latest developments in marketing?
The answer is twofold.
Firstly, you want to ensure you look like you know what you’re talking about on your public profiles when it comes to marketing in general. Sharing industry thought leadership content, commenting on trends and articles and connecting with influencers in the marketing sphere will all count in your favour.
Employers like to see that marketing is more than a job for you - it’s a passion - and your Twitter profile can provide evidence that you spend time engaging with the industry in your spare time. What’s more, positioning yourself as a thought leader by engaging with other marketers, sharing your own marketing blogs and commenting on updates and developments in the industry will demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
However, when your dream career is in marketing, it’s not enough to just chat about it online. You also need to show that you’re aware of your own brand and how you’re marketing yourself to anyone who might seek you out on social. Furthermore, you need to show that you’re not just aware of the latest tools and trends - but you’re jumping on them yourself. Because if you can’t market yourself, how are you going to market anything else?
Walter Junior, social media strategist at Riot, told Mashable that aspiring social media marketers should: "Keep up-to-date with tools, applications, studies and reports. In my opinion, it's essential to monitor and be familiar with a wide range of Internet materials, such as social media usage research, in order not only to comprehend market and users' consumption habits, but also to know how they are changing each day."
As mentioned above, it is advisable to present yourself as a dynamic and experienced marketing professional over your social media platforms. But at the same time, you still want to come across as approachable, friendly and like you would be a great person to have around the office.
Speaking at the Digital Summit, Maria Heckel, director of marketing at CIM, noted that concerns over data security mean that brands should aim to be personal, positive and more human, with a view to realigning around authentic customer engagement.
In addition, the success of interruptive marketing and less formal types of brand-customer communication - alongside a rise in Adblocking - mean that marketing teams are having to up both their creativity and personability; brands are now talking to consumers like they’re good friends.
This should apply to your own personal brand too. As much as you want to share the right sort of industry-related content and connect with influencers, to gain the right sort of attention this needs to be interspersed with posts that give a glimpse into your real life and hint at who the person behind the profile picture really is.
Even on LinkedIn, the most formal of networks, there’s no reason you can’t show a bit of personality; no matter what their job, no-one will be engaged with content that is utterly dry. While you don’t want to go too far and post anything inappropriate for the network, accompanying an interesting article with a humorous caption is fine. No-one expects - or wants - you to be a robot!
Play the long game
It’s not unusual to neglect certain accounts - LinkedIn in particular - while you’re not looking for a new job, only to get back on it in the hopes of getting a new role.
The best strategy, however, is to make sure your public social accounts are showing the best of you and showing off your best work all year round.
Keeping your social profiles up-to-date and consistently posting your own quality content on them will look much better to recruiters and employers than if you only do this on-and-off when you’re looking for a new job.
When you’ve decided on your dream company to work at, its possible there won’t be any vacancies in your field. It’s here that social can be used to ingratiate yourself with key people at the organisation, in the hopes they’ll snap you up once the right job comes along. Target key influencers and people who work at the companies you hope to with day-to-day industry chat, and organically make those connections on social. This will give you that added boost if and when a vacancy does arise.
In a nutshell, in order to give yourself an edge over other marketers on social, you need to become your own brand and consistently create and outreach innovative content to support this persona. Make sure your social profiles demonstrate that you’re up-to-date with the latest trends in the marketing sector - both through the content you post and how you utilise the platforms themself. Show your passion for the sector by shouting about what you’re doing in your spare time, whether this is gaining new qualifications, attending conferences or reading up on marketing. Finally, don’t forget to let a little bit of your personality shine through.
Daniel Rowles, CIM course director and summit chair, shared five key trends that all marketers need to be aware of in 2016.
1) Algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) - Messenger bots are on the rise! Although this technology remains in the early stages of development, consumers will find them increasingly having interactive conversations with these bots.
2) Social commerce - As social advertising advances, social media users are more likely to shop online.
3) Generation Adblock - Consumers are becoming more savvy when it comes to Adblocking. This means that marketers need to better target individuals with their content through social media.
4) Upping the quality of content marketing - In a world of endless content of questionable quality, marketers are waking up to the idea that we need to do less content but of a better-targeted quality.
5) Focus on transformation - Digital culture is key, according to Daniel, which means we need to “focus on a digital culture and change in behaviours, where we are able to TEST new ideas and LEARN from them, but more importantly not be afraid to FAIL”. This is particularly relevant for businesses that believe they are not geared up for digital, or that they don’t have a culture of innovation and learning.