For the last several years, we have all tried to master social media. We’d spend hours reading blog posts, writing blog posts, sharing them on Twitter, sharing them again on Twitter, attending conferences, speaking at conferences and then fighting to get our accounts verified so that we can reach ninja status.  Or at least feel important enough to tell others what they are doing wrong.

And many have achieved this.

But the reality has changed. Brands today now realize that social media is critical, both internally and externally.  They no longer need the “Monday morning quarterback” critique of what they are doing right or what they are doing wrong on Twitter.  Yeah, some still make mistakes but they are learning and getting smarter by the day.

Social media (and to throw another buzzword in the mix, social business) is now maturing in organizations.  Execs are now making larger investments for social initiatives.  Hiring is running rampant across every facet of every organization – marketing, PR, human resources, retail, channel, customer service, you name it.  Teams are being formed. Governance is being established.  Agencies are being hired. And damn, everyone is doing it.

While this knowledge is certainly important, you need to know more than just the latest buzzword.

To be successful, stand out from others and deliver business value to their companies (or clients), you must learn and be able to articulate: 

  • Why social media is not a stand alone tactic and how it is a small fraction of brand storytelling
  • Domain-level experience (i.e. if you work for an enterprise software company, you should know the product extremely well, the audience, their buying behavior, etc.)
  • How content marketing is JUST a tactic; and that having a content strategy is critical to brand success
  • How social media tools and tactics can be used to drive internal change management initiatives
  • The role technology plays in integrated marketing
  • Why social media literacy is important to drive culture change
  • Why analytics should be an important driver in content and engagement

The good news is that you don’t need a business degree to learn this. And despite what some others may say, you certainly don’t need to spend $499 to get “social media certified” from some unknown organization.

You learn from experience, on the job training. You learn from reading (more than just social media books). You learn from asking questions, a lot of them. You learn by finding a mentor (one that you don’t have to pay for) that has been in business longer than you.

And more importantly, you learn by humbling yourself and admitting that you don’t know everything about everything. And even if you do know “everything” about social media, so what … everyone else does too.