Clearing Up the Murky World of Digital Marketing Job Titles

So… I’m not quite sure what my job title means and I don’t think I’m alone. In the last 3 years I have been called the following: SEO Executive, SEO & Social Media Executive, Marketing Executive, Plex Elder and back when we wanted to be one of those ‘quirky’ digital marketing agencies even a ‘Wondernaut’.

I gave myself one hour to scour the web for some inconclusive digital marketing job titles that had me stumped; you can do that when you have ‘executive’ in your title, because surely your job is to execute stuff? Here is a sample of some of the most bizarrely spectacular job titles that I have come across today (plucked straight from LinkedIn):

  • Head of Innovation
  • Internet Marketing Specialist (a very broad specialisation)
  • Content Librarian
  • Gesture Writer
  • Data Storyteller
  • Mobile Markerting Jedi
  • Simplicity Engineer
  • Brand Story Expert
  • Native & Social Account Executive
  • International Visual Content Director
  • Ideas Maker
  • Transformational Storyteller
  • Productivity Ninja
  • Growth Hacker
  • Content Delivery Expert

Now, I have no doubt of the credentials of the people with these job titles, but this is just a bit silly, no? Could we not argue that at least 4 of the above mentioned in their day to day activities will be doing the same job?

Why should we care?

We are in danger in the digital marketing industry of making a bit of a mockery of ourselves. Would Donald Draper, that fictitious marketing godfather be happy knowing that one day he could be described as a ‘Transformational Storyteller’? Well Don?

Giphy / GIPHY - via Iframely

Didn’t think so, and we’ve upset him now. He’s become an actual ‘Mad man’.
Perhaps we’re trying too hard to be cool and quirky? Or maybe, the industry moves too fast for my little noggin’, and these roles have genuinely emerged as real and necessary titles. I miss the times when someone could ask me what I do and it would all be explained in the title, like: ‘Graphic designer’ or ‘Carpenter’ (OK, I was never a carpenter, but you get it). These were simpler times.

What could it mean?

I think we could be seeing something pretty unique to our industry here. It would seem the pace at which the digital world moves is in direct correlation with the emergence of new job titles. In slower paced, more traditional industries such as accounting or corporate business we don’t see such a turnover. Comparitively our industry could be labelled as rather unstable at its core, where new strategies and approaches are adopted nearly every week.

Do you think that a Mobile Marketing Jedi would need to exist had the growth in mobile search usage not already reached a tipping point, ousting desktop search in 2014? Probably not. With the evolution of our industry it is of course expected that new job roles will pop-up rapidly. Furthermore, with our ability to excrete creativity with words, it’s not suprising terms such as Jedi, that are so engrained in our popular culture emerge as descriptors for these new and increasingly important job roles.

So that’s my guess on why these titles emerge, however, let’s think about what this could mean for the future. Will a Mobile Marketing Jedi be required forever? If the trends continue then yes, but does that mean his desktop counterpart will be obsolete in a few years time? We exist in an industry where change is almost guaranteed, where we as marketers have to read the trends and adapt to ensure our continued relevance moving forward. A good digital marketer is an all-rounder who could describe himself as a specialist in a lot of things, however are we creating our own roles to stand out from the crowd?

How can we clear this up?

So here is what I would love to know. I’m reaching out to all digital marketers. I would love to know more about your job titles. What does a content librarian do? What is involved in your day? How would you say it differs to that of a content marketer? Do you think there is something to the idea of your job role adapting with industry trends? If you are one of these roles above or anything else relatively obscure, maybe you’re a content marketer that labels themselves as a content delivery expert to stand out from the crowd? Tell us in the comments what you do so that we can shed some light on the nuances of marketing roles in the industry.

  • AndyT

    I don’t work in the Digital Marketing industry, however I suggest using a more detailed description instead of flamboyant job titles.

    For example, one could say he/she “helps business establish a strong social media presences”, or “Optimizes you website ranking to make it more visibile”, etc.

    Would it work better?

    • Joe Sturgess

      I think it would certainly help Andy, it’s often the case that some of these titles just fail to accurately get across what it is they do. I think your idea would be incredibly beneficial when trying to ‘win work’ from outside the marketing community, with people like yourself! Out of interest, what is your job title?

      • AndyT

        My title?

        “I am looking for an opportunity of building bridges among People, Ideas and branches of Knowledge | Opportunity Seeker”

        It’s not bad, is it? :)

  • Vishal Kataria

    Interesting topic for discussion, Joe. I think bizarre designations are created to accommodate people to compensate for the loss of specific skills in existing employees. If an operations manager complains about being too burdened to design ideas for improvement, an Ideation Officer might be hired. If a content writer simply wants to write and refuses to understand and participate in marketing and SEO, an ‘SEO Wizard’ has to be hired to keep the management (and clients) happy (no offense to anyone).

  • Jason Keller

    I think what this variety of titles mean is that there are hiring managers that are trying to hire for needs they don’t fully understand. Also, you see a lot of these outlandish titles in the startup space especially, and I think it is most ofter an attempt to make “Generalist” sound sexy. Bottom line is that companies need and want to address online needs and typically have a finite budget to do so, so they try to broaden the posted job titles to cast a larger net.