4 Stages of Social Media Competence

By Danny Rohrdanz

April 25, 2013

I’m learning that so much of what I do now is educate clients. I pray it’s helpful for them and the success of their brands. From what I’m seeing, I think it is.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto.com/axllll

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto.com/axllll

It’s true, much of my time now is spent on phone calls or in email conversations educating on best practices or the “smart” way to do something. This got me thinking: “I’m working to move my clients forward on a timeline of social media and digital competence.” So here are the four stages of socia media competence the way I see them:

Stage 1: Unconsciously Incompetent in Social Media

Many clients start out this way, but it’s usually before we meet them. They know they need to be doing something in social media, but have no idea of the proper methods and measurable tactics. They probably got started because their competitor started a Facebook page that gained three likes and a million percent of the market share. (Please read my sarcasm). They are just doing for doing’s sake. They are unaware that what they are doing is actually not working and not benefitting them at all. Therefore, it’s working against them. They don’t know if they are doing it wrong or right. Possibly until someone tells them…

Stage 2: Consciously Incompetent in Social Media

This is when the client or company knows that what they are doing is not working. They realize that there are needs that require attention and strategy voids that need to be filled. This is how many of my first meetings go with clients: identifying problem areas in their current systems and strategies and working to create a fix that meets their needs. It’s a troublesome place to be, to know you’re doing it wrong, but not sure what to do about it. If you are a company or brand, who finds yourself in this stage, I hate to tell you this, but your customers also know that you’re not sure what you’re doing.

Stage 3: Consciously Competent in Social Media

A plan is set in place and you are seeing good results. It’s taking a lot of brain power, work and time but you are seeing the needle move in the right direction. This is a good thing! Social media is so measurable now, it’s quite easy to see how a specific action warrants a good or bad result. To be consciously competent in social media is where many brands find themselves: understanding that it is a task that needs to ge done to achieve certain results. Please note I said “task.”

Stage 4: Unconsciously Competent in Social Media

As Phil Robertson says, “Now we’re cookin’ with peanut oil!” (Yes, I’m a fan of the Robertson family). To be unconsciously competent in social is to go from “task” to “it’s just what we do.” Your systems, your priorities, your acitons: they all become a part of your company’s DNA that you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just what you do. In a recent post I talked about how social media is no longer a job, but a skill. This is exactly what it looks like to be unconsciously competent in social: A skill, not a job. Now, you don’t just stumble upon a skill; it takes work. It takes a, sometimes, long journey along this path of competence to have true, unconscious success in social media.

Where do you find yourself along this path? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!


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