I had the pleasure of serving on the Careers in Social & Digital Media panel recently at Bentley University’s Marketing/Communications Career Conference program. The annual event hosts an interesting mix of speakers from the Boston area business/startup/agency crowd to discuss the range of trends around all things communications and offer advice to the undergrads in the audience.
After the initial evergreen questions on informational interviewing and networking, the panel headed down a very interesting and surprisingly technical path. Questions directly from the undergrad audience keyed in on things like the importance of SEO and analytics; who should they follow or read to learn more (Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land was called out multiple times, along with Matt Cutts over at Google), and what their “toolkit” needs to be beyond social.
The most interesting part for me was the fact that these names and concepts weren’t completely foreign to students — despite some being sophomores and juniors looking for their first internship opportunities. There was real recognition in the growing importance of not just “being on social” as an experience or expectation of communications professionals. The questions were centered on a fundamental understanding that analytics is an ever growing part of the mix for marketers. Keep in mind – although Bentley University has a defined Marketing Program, it is historically known as a business and accounting school in the local community. (Full disclosure, I’m a MBA/Marketing focus graduate from Bentley.)
As a summary, here’s a few takeaways from the panel:
- SEO, social and traditional PR/Marketing tactics should not be thought of as siloed efforts. They work best in synergy and harmony.
- Although some career experts point towards specialization, the panel actually subscribed more to the generalist bent. Given the world of marketing is so fluid right now, having a baseline understanding of things like Google Analytics, Moz and SEO principals will be essential for any future specialization track you might find in the future.
- Audience isn’t about “glory” numbers. Pure escalation in Twitter follower counts or Facebook likes isn’t the be all end all – context around who those people are and what they are doing after initial engagement matters.
To me, the panel discussion showed that these students aren’t coming at marketing from a “get out of math jail card” mindset – they are really thinking through how fundamental business and analytics principals tie to traditional communications strategies. With CMO spend for IT expected to grow significantly over the coming years, this panel could be a microcosm of what we should expect to see in the next wave of marketers – socially savvy, data driven and curious about the intersection/pivot points inherent in business and marketing.
If you’re a recent grad or burgeoning communications pro still enjoying the undergrad life, you have ample resources at your fingertips. You can sign up for free versions of most any tool, be it HootSuite, Moz or Google Analytics. Blogs like the ones mentioned above and others like Jason Falls’ will give you a sense of the trends from the front lines. And avail yourself to Google’s free online Academy courses, a great resource for anyone interested in getting a strong baseline for marketing analytics.
Photo Credit: By Daderot via Wikimedia Common