I felt the need to write this article after a recruitment firm asked one of our clients if the marketing person whom they were staffing needed to know social media. The job was a product marketing position and our client is a transoceanic fiber optic cable owner and operator. This question immediately raised concern amongst myself and my company’s sales and marketing recruiters. The problem with social media is that some marketing employees do not take the time to learn about its strengths and weaknesses prior to moving forward with a marketing plan involving social media. What marketing professionals and the people who hire them need to understand is that “social media” is exactly what it sounds like. It is something that most people view and disseminate in their free time, and there are only certain industries that are truly able to benefit from it. From what our sales and marketing recruiters have observed, most of these companies benefitting from social media do not sell their product to other businesses. Instead, they sell straight to the consumer. For example, YouTube is technically social media, but most CEOs just use it as an excuse to get themselves on web television. While some business to business social media initiatives do turn out to be successful marketing tactics, more often than not they simply use up time and energy (and money) that might be better spent focusing on other forms of business development.
The sales and marketing recruiter who asked our client about whether or not the candidate needed to know about social media really had no idea what he or she was talking about. First of all, to get an expert in the field (somebody who knows what they are talking, as opposed to just throwing the phrase on their resume) it is going to cost a lot.
Second, a company (our client) that is marketing themselves as a cost effective transoceanic fiber service with 10G capacity (instead of the 40G lines, which make up the majority of transoceanic cables) is mainly targeting technology departments within financial-related companies and most likely has no need to create a social buzz about their product. The product is cost effective but not cutting edge. However, our client was about to hire the vendor who asked the aforementioned question, and for a lot of money. I don’t know why 80% of marketing employees don’t learn social media, but they don’t. From what our sales recruiters have observed, however, the best ones always do. Personally, this makes me skeptical of many of them. A lack of knowledge regarding social media and its uses results in marketing departments opening up the company checkbook to the first person who calls and says the words “social media.” Since this type of media is an aspect of marketing, it is the marketing department head’s responsibility to stay up to date with how useful or irrelevant it is to the company’s business development.
Another facet which made the aforementioned statement seem like the individual did not know what they were talking about it is the fact that if our client was to put something on YouTube, it would not be found. How many tech departments at hedge funds are searching around YouTube or Google Video for transoceanic cable providers? Instead, the prospective head of marketing for this company would need to know that they are not going to create a huge buzz via the social media channels, including Twitter. Most firms with a B2B focus might start a blog hoping to get followers on Twitter, but their target market is probably not searching around for blogs or Twitter feeds. Optimizing the company blog for SEO is not going to work either unless you are an expert at search engine optimization. Twitter really works best for online newspapers, celebrity watch lists, sports news (fantasy football) trending, etc. Everybody is talking about social media, but only a small percentage of the population actually knows what it is. The statement by the above-mentioned recruiter showed a lack of any knowledge of this form of media because, for the most part, our client would want to stay out of social media. Besides signing on a large client and wanting to get the word out (technically PR marketing, not social media), seemingly the only interesting media the firm would be able to get to draw attention to themselves would be negative coverage in online or traditional media.