Social Opens New IT Career Path In Marketing - InformationWeek

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Social Opens New IT Career Path In Marketing

Many companies are dedicating IT staff to marketing and communications departments; others are hiring marketing staffers who have focused tech skills.

If there's been one group in the enterprise that has embraced social, it's marketing and communications. If there's been one group in the enterprise that has shrugged its figurative shoulders at social, it's the IT department.

But a funny thing is happening as social networking becomes increasingly critical to business efforts: Marketing is becoming the next big IT thing, and IT is becoming the next big marketing thing.

Marketing departments have typically been organizations' first and most fervent adopters of social networking applications and practices. And because so many social networking apps are public, very cheap, and easy to get up and running, it's been easy to leave IT and traditional technology procurement and implementation models out of the mix.

Now, however, as applications get more sophisticated and integration opportunities abound, many marketing departments are finding that their goals for social networking technology are exceeding the skills of their internal denizens. But rather than returning to the old ways of working with the IT department, many companies are dedicating IT staff to marketing and communications projects, while others are hiring marketing staffers who have focused tech skills.

[ For more on IT's role in social, see 5 Ways IT Can Stall Social. ]

"I have been in numerous meetings in which the marketing department was not aware of the technical options and the ability to do certain things in the context of a marketing campaign," said Ed Nash, president of Altius Management. "An IT person within the marketing team makes perfect sense, and ideally allows the team to be even more creative and realistic in their approach. Less time wasted, more time implementing cutting-edge creative campaigns."

At online printing company NextDay Flyers, there has been a blurring of the lines over time between marketing and IT, according to CEO David Handmaker.

"When we hire members of our marketing team, we look for candidates who are tech-savvy," said Handmaker. "If they know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, it's a big plus. They don't have to be proficient in it, but if they know the basics and can clearly articulate their needs to the IT team, it can create efficiencies. Likewise, we look for IT team members who know more than just how to code. We hope they have a basic understanding of the e-commerce conversion funnel, SEO, and social media. We hope our IT team members are savvy enough to point out things such as a slow page load speed that can affect organic search engine rankings, and let us know we need to split test conversions before placing social media icons on our product pages."

Handmaker said two of NextDay Flyers' IT professionals act as liaisons between the marketing department and the IT team. "They join our marketing team for weekly meetings and are active participants in many initiatives," he said. "Their input is invaluable, and without their help we wouldn't be able to move forward in an extremely competitive online arena."

One of the big drivers for this melding of IT and marketing minds and mindsets is big data, noted Gregg Poulin, CMO of uberVU, which provides social media monitoring, analytics, and management technology.

"With social, there are now hundreds of millions of conversations going on daily that, when layered with contexts, become incredibly useful for marketing teams to use and engage their audiences in a smart way," said Poulin. "I believe that the requests for all the big data will soon become a request for intelligence or context on top of that big data, which will enable organizations to move forward and win against their competitors. IT departments would be wise to live and breathe marketing to be prepared for these shifts because it will soon be on them. The companies that get ahead of this will stand to reap big rewards."

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Keith Sexton
Keith Sexton,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2012 | 7:00:14 AM
re: Social Opens New IT Career Path In Marketing
Deb, this story on the melding of Marketing (Social) & IT (being tech savvy) really struck a chord with me!

I have a 15+ year background in IT, and I recently bit the bullet venturing out on my own as an Online Reputation Marketing Consultant.

Offering my clients a modern (IT, Local & Social) twist to their "Stale" & "Old School" marketing campaigns.

A fusion of IT & Marketing...

It is in essence a new Job Title, but what should we call it on our resume?


Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/21/2012 | 9:23:08 PM
re: Social Opens New IT Career Path In Marketing
Thanks for your comment. Do you mean that you have been seeing this for a while?

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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