“To avoid throwing good money after bad, companies need to ensure that their employees actually know how to use new and emerging social technologies. Those that succeed in closing the social media skills gap will discover new ways to reach and retain customers, engage and recruit employees, and boost productivity. Those that fail will miss out on their chunk of a multitrillion-dollar pie, and might not be around long enough to regret it.”  — Ryan Holmes, CEO, Hootsuite

Mr. Holmes’ recent article in Fast Company, Inside the Social Media Skills Gap, made its way across the desks of marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and those who’ve had social media added to their long list of responsibilities. Responses included everything from applause to groans.

Why the Social Media Skills Gap Resonated with Us

For us at JB Media, it was like someone had recorded our regular conversations with clients and colleagues about online marketing training needs. Social media is probably the most commonly discussed, but the author’s point applies to content marketing, email, online advertising, SEO, and online public relations as well. From business owners we hear, “I know how to make my product, I can even sell it, but this Internet marketing stuff is not something I know how to do.”  Marketing professionals talk to us about how rapidly things change and how even just a short time away from the online realm, particularly social media, puts them at a disadvantage to achieve their organization’s goals or finding their next position. Those with administrative roles are often in the most challenging position because as Holmes says, “…social media duties have been radically democratized and decentralized.” We even hear from office managers and others in similar positions at smaller companies, where responsibilities on management have been expanded to include not only social media, but website updates, e-newsletters, and even blogging — all of this to be done in their not-so “spare time” between other duties. And since all of these elements of online marketing are interrelated (or should be) keeping up with all of them can feel impossible.

Even if we focus on social media exclusively, “Inside the Growing Social Media Skills Gap” points out how integrated this one element of Internet marketing is in business today:

“Social media is no longer a discrete thing that certain people do in certain jobs, and more of an integral component of work itself. Social tools are being used to streamline customer service, drive sales, improve HR processes, and build employee brand advocacy programs.”

This point is driving not just individuals to online marketing training programs, but pairs and teams. Each person approaches social media and other elements of Internet marketing from their discipline or area of focus, but as they learn, they also develop skills to craft a strategy for their company’s online presence that is truly integrated, consistent, authentic and on message.

Holmes points out that traditional education sources like higher education are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of social media. Here is where the article’s title leaves something very important out of the equation:

There isn’t just a skills gap, but a training gap. Social media and other online marketing duties are now common job requirements that few people have the skills to execute well and that there are limited resources to obtain quality, up-to-date training to learn them.

Solution: Online Marketing and Social Media Training Courses

This is exactly why the JB Media Institute was created. Not every business or non-profit needs agency-level services for their Internet marketing; however, all organizations do need to get their message to the right audience and increasingly, that connection is made online. Retailers, service providers, and non-profits raising awareness can all be more successful with a strategic and well-executed approach to online marketing. We believe that in many cases they can even do it successfully themselves. All they need is education in the principles, current best practices, and a few tips from some pros who do this work daily.  Ideally, this education doesn’t focus on just one piece of online marketing like social media. A comprehensive knowledge base and skill set is needed to make all Internet marketing efforts successful.

“Ultimately, the right training solution needs to be on-demand and mobile-friendly. Currently, some of the best paid options are coming not from traditional educational sources, but from companies immersed in the social and digital media space, offering real lessons from the front lines.” — Holmes

Our online JB Media Institute starts a new cohort about every 6 weeks. For those who are or would love to spend some time in Asheville, NC our in-person program is offered three times a year. And if you aren’t sure if handling your Internet marketing in-house makes the most sense for your goals and capacity, give us a shout and we can talk it through. We partner with clients for agency services based on our core values, overall fit with our service offerings, and what will best meet your goals.