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Business Performance Personal Development Social Media

Digital talent: riding the wave of change

In his post ‘Social Media requires a different perspective on talent – developing a social workforce’, Felix Wetzel referenced a comment from Brian Halligan’s (Hubspot) presentation at Dreamforce:

‘No traditional marketing skills and background are required, instead “hire people who speak digital without an accent. Hire people that blog, have twitter followers and are on G+”

I’m sure it’s a bold and contentious statement for many, but from where I’m sitting it has merit.

For me, Social and Digital are about attitude. The skills can be learned, but it’s more about whether you ‘get it’. We’ve long since passed the point where we should be discussing the potential of the internet as commerce and communication channels, yet to some the thought of discussing – let alone doing – social media, ecommerce or digital is worse than a trip to the dentist. The words ‘tweeting’, ‘klout’ and ‘conversion optimisation’ don’t even appear in their vocabulary.

No, to be a success in the digital age you need to freely and readily embrace change.

The attitude I mentioned, includes the ability to question and experiment. Any of those pioneers at the dawn of the commercial internet had that ability in spades. They looked at the web and saw a way to challenge the norm, the traditional, and do something in a new and better way.

And because they needed staff to make their venture work, they hired people with the right attitude and skills – but not necessarily internet experience – who figured out a way to make it happen.

When I joined Jobsite in 1999, I was an unemployed photographer; our Marketing Executive was a part time doorman and our SEO expert was hired out of the kitchens of the local army barracks. None of us had any marketing experience, let alone any internet history.

Over the subsequent years, as the internet community and talent pool has grown, new hires into the team came with valuable web experience. Regardless of background, the ones who truly made a mark are those that continued the tradition of curiosity.

Today, as I welcome two new recruits to the team I now lead 12 years later, I urge them to question the way things are done, bring alive their ideas and not to be wary of experimentation. Standing still is no longer an option. Neither is being afraid of change.

And change is coming. Like the internet was a catalyst for change in traditional commerce, now social and mobile are changing the web. As traditional marketers were afraid of digital, now their counterparts must in turn face their own challenge. You cannot be a marketer today and not embrace social media. You cannot be a marketer if you can’t see how Mobile is totally changing how your customers are going to be using your product. Stand up and face the oncoming storm, throw open your arms and embrace it.

As Felix concludes:

Depending on where you stand, it’s either beautiful or scary.

From where I’m standing, it’s a bit of both. And that’s why it’s so exciting, right?