Marketingmag.com.au welcomes Simon Young to
the stable of guru bloggers on the
site. Simon Young is the co-founder of Auckland-based social media consultancy iJump. See the weekly iJumpTV podcast at http://ijump.tv/, and follow Simon on Twitter.


How should clients and agencies handle social media? Are social media skills the kind of thing that can be outsourced, or are there key skills and competencies that need to take place inside?

That was one of the questions that arose at the 2nd Digital Media Summit, here in Auckland last week.

Chaired by Adelaides own Lee Hopkins, the conference attendees came from a wide range of roles in private and public sector organisations, with a smattering of agency types, too.

One attendee contrasted this summit with the last one some 18 months ago. While the first summit was about talking to people, this one was about talking with people, both in terms of subject matter and the way the summit was run. Case in point, the unconference session at the end of the summit, where attendees sat in a circle and had a free-form discussion.

Another strong theme from the summit was bridge building. Techies and marketers want to achieve the same thing, but are often speaking different languages; as a result, its hard to actually get anything done.

We need bridge builders – people who understand enough of business issues, and enough of technology, to create a common language so businesses can successfully engage in social media.

And what does a bridge builder look like? Thats a very pertinent question. Marketers may look to their agencies for advice but agencies are often struggling to keep up themselves. Often theyre also being asked to explore the technologies that will eventually replace their golden geese of of media commissions and large creative fees.

The answer seems to be pointing back to marketers, to develop the skills and knowledge needed to effectively integrate social media into their marketing mix. The techies know the tools, but they tend not to know the larger marketing mix. Meanwhile the agencies have a grasp on business as usual, and a desperate need to appear relevant by knowing about social media.

Theres a desperate need for bridge builders – people who can speak the language of business, and of technology.

In fact, bridge building is a common theme for 2009. The New Zealand Marketing Association is also introducing initiatives to help marketers speak the language of the boardroom – which is essential for businesses to break out and innovate. The paradox is, marketers also need to understand the language of the consumer (usually the polar opposite of the language of business) in order to provide that innovation.

Feeling stretched as a marketer? Whats the biggest stretching point for you at the moment? Id love to know – email me at simon@ijump.co.nz, or leave a comment below.