Back when I started my professional career 10 years ago, social media was just starting to become a thing. Businesses were curious about platforms such as Facebook and agencies across the world started considering how they could potentially sell Facebook page and Twitter account management as a service to their clients. Actually, my very first project from my first employer was exactly that – develop a business plan that details how we can sell social media marketing as a service to our clients.
10 years later, I’ve built an entire career around managing brand’s digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (and also other platforms, that have since been discontinued). It’s clear however that social media shows no sign of disappearing any time soon, with Facebook sitting at over 2.45 billion monthly active users as of end 2019. It would be difficult for anyone to deny the impact that social media has had on the world – not just in terms of how the modern business world operates, but society itself. It’s an exciting world and those that invest the time in mastering social media platforms are definitely ahead of their peers that choose to underestimate its power and influence.
I think it’ safe to say that social media is definitely seen as the ‘sexier cousin’ when it comes to the world of digital marketing. This, largely due to how influential celebrities, actors and sports stars have embraced social media to connect with their fans and promote their personal brands. There is a distinct sense that if you’re not on social media, then you’re out of the proverbial loop.
But where does this leave more traditional and established digital marketing tactics and channels such as email marketing and Search Engine Optimisation? One of the often-overlooked consequences of the massive rise of social media’s popularity is how it’s led to a massive decline in the youth’s interest in upskilling and learning about other, broader digital marketing tactics, channels, and processes. These channels are often considered as ‘old-school’ and ‘too technical’ by the youth and is leading to a concerning lack of general understanding of broader digital marketing disciplines.
“For those looking to start a career in digital marketing, it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to ensure you upskill yourself across all the various facets of digital marketing and not just social media.”
It’s also important to take into consideration the inherent complexity of broader digital marketing channels: One of the biggest differences between social media and most other digital marketing channels is the fact that social media channels are largely fixed and static in nature, leaving the user (and brand) with comparatively less room for tinkering and adapting the actual user experience on a granular level. This, as opposed to websites and email marketing (as an example), where a brand can engineer (and re-engineer) the entire user journey and interaction with the end-user to an impressive degree. This allows for exciting brand building and engagement opportunities that are not restricted by pre-defined rules of engagement. The increased possibility for customization available on these broader digital marketing channels, however, leads to mastering them becoming comparatively complex, resulting in the need for a bigger time investment from those wanting to utilize them to their full potential.
For those looking to start a career in digital marketing, it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to ensure you upskill yourself across all the various facets of digital marketing and not just social media. Due to the increasing scarcity of broader digital marketing skills, students who take this approach stand a good chance of differentiating themselves in the job market, standing out from those that have decided to only focus on social media marketing. A broader understanding of all digital channels will also better equip you to address the challenges of your brand or clients, as the true power of digital marketing lies in combining the potential of multiple digital marketing channels across the entire customer journey in order to drive real business results.
iQ Academy’s Certified Digital Marketing Professional short course is a fantastic way to develop an understanding of digital marketing in its entirety, as the course focuses on best practice across all prominent digital channels, including digital advertising, search engine optimisation, email marketing, content marketing, website optimisation, digital analytics and of course, social media. It also shows you how these different channels complement and support each other. This all leads to a marketing professional that truly understands how to harness the full potential of the exciting world of digital marketing.
Dr Ewoudt Cloete is currently employed as Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at a Johannesburg based advertising agency called AVATAR, where he is responsible for maintaining and growing the digital revenue stream of the agency through digital marketing strategies and implementation. With 10 years of professional digital brand experience, his skillsets include the planning of digital marketing and broader communication strategies for clients, digital campaign planning and execution, social media and broader digital strategy conceptualisation, digital paid media planning and execution, digital content creation, SEO, SEM, Online Reputation Management and more. He has a burning passion for academics and completed his PhD in Communication studies in 2017, with thesis title: ‘Exploring the organisational positioning of professional social media within a modern marketing communications context.’ He currently lectures digital marketing at various academic institutions across South Africa, which includes being the official Tutor for iQ Academy’s short course, Certified Digital Marketing Professional. This course is presented in partnership with the Digital Marketing Institute; the world’s biggest provider of digital marketing training.