Anyone who’s ever sent out a tweet or posted on Facebook thinks that they are a social media expert.

The medium is deceptively simple. Once people know how to interact on social media, they think they know all there is to know.

The reality is that social media is much more complex than it seems and mastering it takes time and skill. Whether you want to work as a social media consultant or you want to master social media for your own brand, you need to have knowledge of how business works, how digital marketing works, and how the two come together in order to be a true social marketing leader.

Understand Business

How can you create a great social media plan if you don’t understand business?

Do you know what a sales funnel is? Do you know what a lead is or why it’s important? Do you understand how customer relation management affects both?

These are just some basic concepts that you should know well before you can start creating a social media marketing plan.

The best way to understand business is to get experience with business. If you haven’t worked much in the corporate world, you might want to consider working for a few years in some key positions. Pay attention and ask as many questions as you can.

Understand Marketing

Marketing is about much more than just advertising.

You can’t just create some flyers or pay for some ads and expect to get the results you need. Just like you can’t just post a few status updates or send out a few retweets and expect to get more followers on social media.

You need to have a good understanding of marketing beyond just social media if you want to be successful.

You need to understand how marketing can create brand awareness, build trust and authority, generate leads and sales, nurture customer loyalty and more. And then you need to understand how different strategies can influence those different goals.

Of course, that means you’ll also need to know about what all the different strategies are. What’s important in web design? How does email marketing work alongside social media marketing? When would you need to convene a focus group?

Some of this knowledge is earned through trial and error, but again, experience is key. Work on your own projects before you try to get paid to work for someone else. Read as much as you can online. Take courses. Study examples.

Do as much as you can and stay current. Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field.

Understanding the Convergence of Business and Marketing

The most important way that you need to understand how business and marketing converge is in meeting business goals.

The first question you should be asking when you are tasked with creating a social media marketing campaign is what the business’ goals are – not only for the business in general but also for the social media campaign in particular.

For example, if the goal is to create more leads, how will that influence what you post on Twitter? Or what kind of content you share on Facebook?

Do you know what needs to be in place on the business web site to handle the traffic that comes in from social media? Do you know how the sales team needs to be prepped in order to nurture those leads?

You need to understand how the two worlds come together in order to meet your goals. This will help you to coach the business or make the appropriate changes in order to be successful.

For example, if you are hired to increase sales for the company but there is no conversion funnel in place, you are guaranteed to fail. Knowing this means that you can identify the problem before you even get started and you can help the company to put the proper measures in place for success.

It is important that you recognize that social media is just one part of a much larger marketing plan. You need to build an integrated strategy that includes that larger plan and the larger business goals.

Of course, you won’t be able to influence every aspect of the marketing plan or the business, but you need to be able to understand how your work fits into the larger whole. Otherwise, you will be working in a vacuum, and your success or failure will be the result of chance and not your skill.

Not just anyone can build a successful social media campaign, and if you want to be a social marketing leader, you need to understand how to create an integrated strategy that reflects the business structure and its goals. When you can do that, you’ll be able to build a tailored strategy that will not only help the business to be successful, but will also ensure your own success.