What are the most important social media marketing skills that graduating college students need to understand?

Ric Dragon

I’m asking three questions of some leaders in the field of social marketing and this is what I learned. This is No. 15 in the series (see the links below for other posts in the series).

Today: Ric Dragon, is the author of Social Marketology, a social media deep-dive and process reference for marketing professionals, CEO of DragonSearch, and a frequent columnist, blogger and speaker on digital marketing. He can be found on Twitter as @RicDragon:

"Social can be the lighter fluid on the marketing bonfire," says Dragon, explaining that "marketers are in the business of creating more value."

"By integrating traditional marketing tactics with social, more value will be realized from each component of the marketing," he says.

"Create a reminder for yourself – perhaps a tattoo on your forearm or a post-it on your monitor – to always seek out ways to derive more value by integrating your efforts," Dragon says.

When asked: What skills are the most important in social marketing, he says there are two major buckets of important skills in social media marketing.

"The first bucket has a lot in common with traditional marketing skills: being able to understand actions in their context with an organization’s purpose, vision, goals and objectives; understanding customers; and understanding the complexity of influence," Dragon says.

"The second bucket has more to do with participating in social media in ways that help to create conversations and community," he says. "We’re talking high 'social intelligence' and high 'emotional intelligence' here – those little actions that encourage the trust in others, and help ignite deeper engagement."

He notes that organizations that are flourishing in social have shown a willingness to relinquish some of the control of the brand, allowing the brand to exist with a more dynamic voice – and thus become a part of the conversation.

They've relinquished the "command and control" approach to the brand, and encourage an "enable and facilitate" approach, and have very likely embraced notions of transparency and authenticity, he says.

But not all brands have crossed this threshold.

"The great challenge for many marketers is in helping those laggard brands join the social revolution – and are thus able to speak the language of the C-Suite," Dragon says.

"Instead of eschewing discussions of Social Media ROI, successful marketers understand that social media marketing exists within a complex ecosystem, and helps to create value across a wide spectrum of places in the organization.

"Communicating this – having those discussions – is critical," he says.

And how important is social marketing as part of the marketing mix?

"Marketers today should wake up each morning with a feeling of delight and excitement – we live in a time of real revolution in marketing and business communications," Dragon says.

"Brands that embrace these new approaches to building communities, leading with passion and purpose, and one-to-one conversations are going to assume a leadership role," he says, and "will be difficult for competitors to usurp."

So, what do you think? How important will social marketing be in the future and what MUST graduating students know?