Specialization vs. Diversity in Digital Marketing

I’ve met a lot of people who are self-declared specialists. They know a lot about one thing, and one thing only. Yes, okay, you may be the expert in social media, but if you don’t understand how it fits within your digital strategy, your value has just gone way down.

To be honest, I started my career as a social media strategist. I know, I was one of those guys. It was a good starting point for me, but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself as the social media guy. Social is simply one aspect of digital marketing. Yes it is important, but it is not the end all be all. I began to explore social analytics, and the impact social had on SEO. I quickly discovered that there was way more out there for me as a digital marketer.

Over the past few years I worked really hard to diversify my marketing skill set, getting well-versed in web analytics, content strategy, search engine optimization, PPC, email marketing and user experience, on top of my social media experience. If you do choose to specialize in one area, be sure that you have a solid understanding of how that aspect of digital marketing fits into the bigger picture and how to integrate it with other disciplines.

We’re beginning to see a trend of the “T-shaped Digital Marketer”; one that has a wide breadth of basic knowledge across many overlapping disciplines, with deep knowledge, experience and ability in one or a few fields. The key above is ability. If you know a little about a lot, but you don’t have the ability to execute on your specialty, you risk falling into the Jack-of-all-trades but a master of none hole.

Understanding how your content (your specialization) fits in with someone else’s design (their specialization) is key. The same goes with the development implications of your SEO work, or the analytics impact of your email campaign.

Never stop learning. Be the expert in your specialization. Exert yourself as a thought leader. Respect others who are experts in areas in which you have the basic knowledge. Building a good relationship with them will help you become better at what you do.

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