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5 hot new jobs for digital marketers

5 hot new jobs for digital marketers Robert Rose

In 1955, Peter Drucker gave a talk to IBM executives in which he said "we are at the beginning of a period of extreme flux, of extreme change and great competitive pressure in which traditional ways of doing things, traditional products, traditional processes will be challenged on all sides." Sound familiar?

5 hot new jobs for digital marketers

Ironically, years later, Drucker seemed to clarify that quote a bit in "Managing In Turbulent Times," writing that it wasn't actually change, itself, that sped up -- but rather the awareness of change.

Suffice to say we are all supremely aware of the changing landscape of our marketing departments. Our products and services have changed; strategies and tactics have changed; processes have changed. But, maybe most importantly, the construct of our teams have changed.

We are watching entire industries go through this change. In 2004, former U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley was quoted as saying that "none of the top 10 jobs that will exist in 2010 exist today." So, last year -- 2011 -- may have been the first time in history that college graduates were taking jobs in categories that didn't even exist when they first entered school. The difference is now we are so very aware that we are preparing our kids for occupations that haven't even been invented yet.

I was speaking with a CMO of a large organization recently who said something very revealing and important: "We're not hiring digital natives because they know how to use technology -- we're hiring digital natives because they know how technology changes our organization."  That's incredibly important -- as it illustrates what the new jobs and job titles emerging this year represent; the real change that's happening to our marketing strategies.

I've had the great pleasure of visiting with more than 40 companies over the course of last year. In addition to keeping up my Platinum Status on American Airlines, I've also been able to keep track of what many marketing departments at companies both large and small are looking like. So, what are the top five hot new marketing jobs this year? Let's have a look.

Chief content officer
This new job might be the hottest new function in the marketing organization. Leading companies are literally creating entire departments around content marketing. Now, while organizations are definitely flexible with the actual title on the business card -- its function is similar across most organizations. Whether it's called CCO, vice president of content marketing, or director of content marketing strategy, the function is leading the content marketing initiatives for the company.  Maybe no one represents this position as well as Joe Chernov, the vice president of content marketing for Eloqua.

I asked Joe for this article why he thought this job was so hot right now. He said "it's the hottest job function for a hiding-in-plain-sight reason. It's the only reliable way for a brand to be remembered. Paid media is all about brand recognition, but being 'remembered' requires something else entirely. It requires a value exchange and, moreover, a value exchange on the customer's terms. It's the CCO's job to figure out what those 'value opportunities' are, and then device the context, media and metrics for the delivery."

This is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing function in both large and small organizations. One Fortune 500 company that I work with is creating an entirely new department solely dedicated to serving as the "news room" and "original content production" arm for both the field marketing group and corporate communications.

Content strategist
As content strategist Scott Abel says as the tag line of his blog The Content Wrangler, "content is a business asset. Manage it efficiently." And, there's no doubt that organizations are producing more content than ever before.  Thomas Jenkins, executive chairman and chief strategy officer for Open Text Corporation has estimated that "every month content doubles within enterprises and this will jump to daily before the decade is out".

Businesses have finally recognized the need to manage their ever-growing library of content in an effective manner -- and they've begun to actually hire the professionals to do just that.  The explosive growth of content strategy as a practice and the content strategist as a professional career has never been hotter. Georgy Cohen, is the former content strategist for Tufts University and now is the principal of Crosstown Digital Communications, a web consultancy focused on higher education.

I asked Cohen if she thought that "content strategist" was a hot new job category. She answered, "Well yes and no. Often when people encounter the title 'content strategist', they say 'so this is what I've been doing for years -- they finally came up with a name for it!' The deliverables and approach that comprise content strategy are not new, but it's only recently been synthesized into a distinct discipline. I've definitely seen more 'content strategist' job positions floating around in recent months.  I think that, bit by bit, companies are coming around to this and hiring accordingly."

Cohen is right: According to SimplyHired.com – since November of 2009, content strategy jobs have increased by 873 percent.  

Social media manager
This is probably the job that has the most playful titles. Whether it's community manager, social jedi, social media ninja, or just plain old social media manager, this is the person who has the responsibility for managing the conversation that brands are having online.  Certainly with the growth of social media as a marketing tactic, this job isn't as new as some of the others.  Over the course of the past three years, this marketing function really found its legs.  But now, this job actually has entire teams being built beneath it.  In other words, if this job was outsourced in the past to the nephew, or the agency that at least knew how to spell Facebook and Twitter, it's now a full-time, senior level position with strategic initiatives, goals, and a seat at the marketing management table. Perhaps no one personifies this as well as Nate Riggs who has been a leader in digital marketing and social media for many years and now manages Social Media Business Design for the Bob Evans Farm brands.

I asked Nate what the most important traits were for someone entering this field, and he responded, "There are two: The first is that you must be a practitioner. You must spend tons of hours engaging, blogging and growing your personal brand presence. The second is that you must have clear goals/KPI's for the brand you're serving. Know the audience's online behavior. What's important to them? Where do they play online? When? Only then should you talk tactics."

Data scientist
A recent McKinsey study found that almost all companies with more than 1,000 employees store, on average, more than 200 terabytes of data. That's more data than is contained in the US Library of Congress.

Big data was the buzzword to know last year, and every company is going to have to deal with this in its own way.  In 2011, it might have been just telecommunications companies, insurance companies, healthcare, and insurance companies dealing with this challenge. But this year, every company with a significant online presence and content production is going to have to at least start dealing with the challenge of big data.  Historically, the type of person that used to perform the functions of data scientist was that guy in IT who sat downstairs in the basement. You know the one -- he had the red stapler and the Darth Maul figurine that you didn't mess with.  But now, this job function is finding its way into the ,arketing department: she's finding patterns in web analytics and CRM data; she's identifying the trends in online shopping; and she's asking amazingly detailed questions about the direction of product, marketing, and social media trends.

And, boy, this new job is as hot as they come: A recent report shows how job growth for this category has skyrocketed more than 6500 percent in just the last two years.

The freelancer
SuccessFactors, the software company focused on "people performance" conducted a survey for its book, "The 2020 Workplace." They found that the top priorities for Millenials regarding how they would choose their next job would be mostly predicated on how they would be "developed".  Not dissimilar from free agents in professional sports, many Millenials these days see themselves working in "partnership" with the company that employs them. In many cases, they'll only stick around as long as they feel like they are growing professionally and maintaining marketable skills. Otherwise, they're on to the next job.  This lack of "loyalty" is creating a freelance attitude even among full time employees.

Consider also that as the jobs market overall is tending to be recovering extraordinarily slowly – hiring managers (especially in marketing) that I've spoken with have said that it's much easier to plug in Freelancers for specific functions – especially when the marketplace is moving so quickly.  By some estimates, freelancers may make up more than 40 percent of the job market within the next few years.

It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out, but I've definitely seen marketing departments start to shift. Many are bringing in freelancers for more traditional digital marketing tasks (SEO, PPC management, email management, web design, etc.) and hiring the full-time staff around people who can communicate, analyze, and provide more thought leadership for the organization.

A change is going to come
A wonderful Mark Twain quote seems appropriate: "It's not the progress I mind, it's the change I don't like." Sometimes, as marketers (and especially when we're feeling like the world is changing too quickly around us) we need to be reminded that it doesn't matter what the job is called or that our old ones are fading.  The practice of marketing is still a classic: It's creating connections with our consumers. It isn't technology; it isn't cool, weird titles; it's adapting to our world, and continuing to do something that we've been doing since day one: Create customers.

Robert Rose is chief troublemaker at Big Blue Moose.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"JOB. Word collage on black" and "Red paint splash corner" images via Shutterstock.

The Chief Troublemaker at Big Blue Moose. I'm responsible for innovating creative and technical content marketing strategies for my clients.I have more than 15 years of experience, and a track record of helping brands and businesses develop...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Robert Rose

2012, February 10

Thanks so much for the comment and the perspective... Though I'm not sure I ever exclaimed that it was a "brave new world".... In fact quite the opposite - the last four sentences of my article (I think) make the point that you're making. Basically: It's all marketing - no matter what we call it.

However, I don't agree that the skill sets have remained the same and just the titles have changed. Maybe most especially with Content Marketing, Content Strategy - and the Data Scientists - the types of skills required to do those jobs effectively have evolved very quickly into things that old guys like you and I wouldn't have recognized ten and fifteen years ago.

Commenter: Ford Kanzler

2012, February 09

Robert - While its completely understandable that many people haven't been around long enough to have broader world views, developing print, still imagery and motion picture (video) content for various media is frankly SO not new. The breadth of opportunities for and far lower costs of publishing ARE what's new and allowing companies to more easily get into content production.
I won't repeat what's here: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2010/3900/content-marketing-has-been-a-successful-pr-strategy-for-decades However, it is great that marketers at companies of all sizes are getting on the content creation bandwagon. It means that people with writing and other editorial creative skills, that have long been essential in PR, can go by different titles including CCO and find lots more work. (Its also an opportunity for lots of traditional media people in editorial positions who've been thrown out of work.) It's just not exactly the brave new world that's being exclaimed in the story above and elsewhere. It's basically that more marketers are finally waking up to the reality of since they have a Web site, they're in the publishing business and better get busy doing that a lot better. New job titles (Content Marketers) for long-standing skill sets are cool. Just don't pass it off as something other than just that. "figure(ing) out what those 'value opportunities' are, and then device(sing) the context, media and metrics for the delivery" is what PR pros have been providing marketers since Ivy Lee and Edward Bernay's invented modern PR back in the 1920's.