Dear Graduate: Social Media is Part of Your Job a recent visit with a class of college seniors, I was asked rather pointedly: are there any jobs in Social Media?  Pondering this question, I had to answer it from two perspectives: the marketing agency, and the business organization.

Agency Perspective

This is the far easier perspective.  There are indeed roles that focus largely on social media.  Marketing Agency clients are either resource-strained or lack the native expertise, so they often outsource some aspects of social media communications to agencies whose mastery of branding, marketing communications, audience analytics, CRM, user experience design and social listening across various social channels and technical platforms can help the client achieve their audience goals.

Corporate Perspective

This one is by far more nuanced, but the answer is still a qualified yes.  While there not be corporate social media “jobs” per se, social media can help you perform just about any role better.  Consider the following work roles and the importance of social media savvy for each role – no matter what profession or set of duties you are considering.

The Producer’s Role

Just about every job requires you to produce a  measurable output.  That could be a product, a process step, a calculation, a recommendation, a report, etc.  As a producer, you need to master certain skills such as content development to effectively communicate your process and results.  It is useful to develop a “voice” within your team, company, or industry.  Having an authentic, trusted, competent voice builds credibility for your ideas and for communicating results.

Social media channels can help you build and amplify your voice, whether you choose to publish your ideas in a tweetstream or a  Facebook post series linking to your report.  A blog, wiki or website, a SlideShare-hosted PowerPoint presentation, or a Prezi-based rendering, or perhaps even a short video illustrating your message – all are useful tools and avenues for publishing non-proprietary reports. Learning how to tag your content so it is searchable and visible online is often an afterthought and, just as likely, not even considered.  In truth, it is now a baseline skill. Having grown up online, you know the importance of tagging and you consider it a natural part of projecting your content and your voice.  Good for you; this separates the “Navs” from the “Nav nots”.

The Analyst’s Role 

Often your job requires you to analyze information, interpret it in light of your organization’s needs and priorities, and present your interpretation in a way that is sensitive to your audience’s culture and its impact on their behavior.  Learning to monitor social media channels within your industry, profession and business community can help you develop your “antenna” – a sensitivity to audience needs, requirements and trends – that can then help you better communicate your analyses and interpretations, raise awareness, enlist support and stimulate action.

Time spent on social media channels can also help you make sense of information, intelligently filter it,  separating signal from noise and drawing more solid conclusions about the relative value of other voices and sources.

The Designer’s Role

Designers need to balance multiple roles, such as upward accountability for results as well as lateral, cross-organizational collaboration.  Use of social media technologies helps you perform these functions better.  Even simple schedule, project, chat, survey and other collaboration tools help you improve the quality and timeliness of your contribution to results.  Enterprise software tools may often include intra-organizational social features, such as chat and wiki.

Crowdsourcing your ideas invites a broad array of new ideas and inputs, and helps validate a concrete course of action.  Since it is widely accepted that at any given point in time the smartest people on any subject probably do not work with you or for you, consider crowdsourcing!  Invite others’ input, learn to mediate and moderate among various idea directions, and you can achieve far better results, and possibly even avoid costly mistakes.

The Dispatcher’s Role

Sending information is a standard function in most jobs.  Social media tools give you practice at building an audience, understanding communications and cultural dynamics, and packaging your communications in ways that are socially acceptable and more clearly understood.

The Leader’s Role

The effective leader shepherds activity toward productive outcomes.  Building omni-directional communication skills within channels, and cultivating a multi-channel audience, helps the organization leader communicate more effectively, support collaboration and achieve communication goals.

So, dear Graduate, think not just about a social media job; think about how social media helps you do just about any job better.  Can you think of a way it has worked, or could work, for you?   What tools are you finding effective?  I deliberately didn’t name many here.  Love to hear your comments!

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