Jennifer Radke is proof that it is never too late to reinvent yourself.
After over 15 years in higher education obtaining various senior leadership titles, such as the regional vice president of marketing and admissions, and managing over 10 campuses and countless staff at Argosy University, she decided it was time to change careers.
Radke jumped into the world of digital and social media marketing and strategy. Nearly three years later, she is now the vice president of business development for the National Institute of Social Media in Minneapolis.
We were curious about NISM and what she had to say about the future of digital advertising. So, she spent a few moments speaking with us:
PA.O: We’re curious, how did the National Institute of Social Media start?
Jennifer Radke: The president and founder of the company, Eric Mills, was working in continuing education and was contacted by companies asking, “How do you know who actually knows what they are doing in social media?” Some people know how to engage and attract on social media online, but they lack the business and organizational savvy, and visa-versa.
Mills was looking for answers, so he went on a quest. He worked with local organization Social Media Breakfast to reach out to thought leaders across the country. Mills found out that there wasn’t any kind of certification offered.
So, he decided to change that and put together a list of industry experts and specialized folks in different aspects of social media marketing, big business, communications, consulting and legal. These individuals created a job study and worked to set some baseline standards of what an employer would need in a hire. From that, they created a certification exam that launched July 2012. We worked with universities to offer a training program because we realized that everyone isn’t ready to take the exam.
PA.O: How will programmatic advertising play in the future? Might it be incorporated into your curriculum?
Jennifer Radke: It will definitely seep into the social space. I think programmatic will be another tool that some in the social media space will need to use. Some will use it and some won’t, and that will depend on if it is available to their organization.
As far as our curriculum, as programmatic continues to develop that is something we will probably consider.
PA.O: How has programmatic advertising changed your industry thus far?
Jennifer Radke: Programmatic and big data in general have definitely changed all marketing and advertising, whether it is social or traditional. We are able to learn a lot more about our audience than we have before. We are putting our data to use and sending the right message rather than just blasting and sending whatever.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Individuals are aware of when they are targeted – especially when it comes to online ads. We have to make sure that the way we are reaching them is comfortable enough for them and not just sales-y or blast oriented.
PA.O: In recruitment for your organization, how do you continue that personal touch in digital communications?
Jennifer Radke: When I think about programmatic advertising and predictive analysis, I get nervous that organizations will use that as their sole marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, people are “onto that” and they realize that retargeting can be done. They are not just going to stop and purchase at the point of ads.
Most of what is happening on social media right now is building on world of mouth. You need to have people that are going to be able to respond, collaborate and support the marketing efforts online. Communication is key in every department. We have seen in the past a lot of siloed customer relations in customer service, sales support, communications and marketing. We have to be very cohesive in order to best support the customer on the other end of the screen. The only way to do that is the sharing of data and information across departments and actually talking with each other about how to put that human touch into a very digital world.
PA.O: Where do you think we should be headed as a digital marketing industry?
Jennifer Radke: We should go to an industry that really listens to our customers and clients. We should really use data to not just to throw something down their throat, but listen to their needs and deliver transparency. That’s where the ethics piece comes in. You have to understand the full gamut of what you are offering and not just find that pain point and push really hard because it fills a void that you know your consumer has. I hope that we listen as an industry and that we use the information to best serve each other.
PA.O: What are your concerns about the future of advertising?
Jennifer Radke: One of my fears is that we will use the data in a way that will not support customers, but manipulate them and make our society very skeptical. I really hope that marketers take the charge to really market how they would want to be marketed to. We are people after all, and if you don’t want it done to you why would you do it to someone else?
I think as a society we are extremely busy and everyone is focused on too many things. I think we will use programmatic advertising as a shortcut in the work that we are doing. I hope that we are using tools like programmatic to just shorten our workday and enhance, not detract, from what we have to offer.
PA.O: In 10 to 15 years, what do you think the marketing industry will look like? Do you foresee particular marketing/advertising jobs phasing out due to programmatic?
Jennifer Radke: We are changing at such a fast pace, 10 to 15 years is so far out. Who knows what will be doing. But as far as the question about the jobs, organizations that are doing away with people for technology are making the wrong choice.
They should put bodies in a role that can manage the content. Buffer and other social tools cannot respond if there is a natural disaster. If you have posts that are going out that don’t take that into consideration, you will have problems. You need people to interact with the content that’s out there. If people are sharing your content, how are you responding? There are no tools out there to respond for you.
The job positions may not disappear, but, perhaps they will be altered. Perhaps instead of having someone scheduling and coordinating, you have someone watching the content to make sure it is appropriate and responsive to their audience.
That is our hope, to connect skilled professionals and identify those people who may need additional work. We have so many self-proclaimed experts out there, it is important to touch upon the entire social media process, which includes customer service and sales.
We are not certifying people on Facebook, or Twitter – we are certifying people on strategy. We want to teach people how social strategy fits into their overall goals. That, in my opinion, has been determined based on understanding who their audience is and the goals of the company moving forward. The strategy won’t change but the tools will. Facebook may go away, but as individuals, if you understand the strategy, compliance and measuring tools you need for social, you can adapt.
We talk about different types of ads in social, such as free or paid. When we talk about how you would go about calculating ROI, there is no specific metric for that. If your goal is to increase followers, that is easy to follow. But most companies want to increase revenue. How do followers correlate with that? You have to think about what your core business objectives are and create your social ROI from there.