Growing skills gap for social media marketers amid accelerating platform change

The accelerating pace of change in “video-first” social media platforms is leading to a growing crisis for social media professionals. They grapple with growing skills gaps and unrealistic expectations from companies that underestimate the challenges of their role.

In a recent Social Club report, the social media landscape looks very different from five years ago, with a shift towards short-form video and the explosion of TikTok. 400 social media professionals were surveyed and 81% of respondents admitted to having trouble staying on top of daily changes on platforms, with 74% of professionals believing it takes longer now than when they first entered the world. ‘industry.

More than half of respondents think their boss/client underestimates the time it takes to market their brand on each platform, rising to four out of five for Instagram, cited as the most time-consuming and most expensive platform. hard.

The three main areas of concern for the industry

  • A looming skills crisis
    The report highlights significant skills gaps, particularly in the areas of content creation. While 64% identified videography as important in the “video first” social media ecosystem, less than a third (29%) had this skill. Meanwhile, 64% cited photography as important but only 42% possess this skill. 70% considered graphic design important, but only half (51%) had this skill. Not being able to offer all the necessary skills required for their role was the most shared concern according to 64% of respondents.
  • Higher expectations in an increasingly competitive and complex marketing space
    Professionals are facing increased expectations from brands for social media outreach while dealing with increased competition, more platforms, more content formats and features. They also need to adapt to the trend towards video and the increasingly “pay-to-play” nature of algorithms.

    Quantitative and qualitative data showed that respondents consider Instagram to be the most time-consuming and difficult platform. Worryingly, the data indicates that professionals still don’t know about TikTok, don’t understand the platform, and lack the knowledge and skills to succeed. When asked how long it takes to market on TikTok, 44% of people selected “not sure” far more than other platforms.

  • Professionals don’t get the pay or recognition they deserve
    Another big area of ​​concern was the lack of understanding from those who work with and manage social media professionals. More than half of respondents believe their boss or client underestimates the time it takes to market a brand successfully across all platforms. This rises to three-quarters for Facebook and four out of five for Instagram. Although respondents strongly believe their role requires training, skills and experience (93%), they don’t think their boss/client feels the same way, especially independent respondents whose most common answer was (30%).

Kathryn Tyler, founder of the agency Social Club and Digital Mums, worries about a potential crisis in the industry, she says, according to, “The accelerating pace of change and the growing need for a stronger skill set broad means social media professionals are struggling to keep up while meeting rising expectations in an increasingly competitive and complex social media landscape. »

She continued, “We urge those who work with and manage social media professionals to recognize that social media marketing is a very difficult specialty and to achieve results, skilled professionals must have the time and focus they need. need and must receive the recognition they deserve. .”

Matt Navarra, social media consultant and industry analyst, wasn’t surprised by the results. “To stay on top of social media, I spend hours every week reading hundreds of social media posts and tweets.

“Things are tested and changed on a daily basis, it’s no wonder professionals have a hard time keeping up with it all. Having worked in the industry for over a decade, I agree that this pace of change is accelerating. Sounds like an important conversation for the industry.

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