Food for Thought: Taking Social Media to the Next Level.

Recently, I vetted through hundreds of submissions for a ‘Social Media Intern’ role. The resumes all had impressive pedigrees. 98% from Columbia, NYU, even students from BU and neighboring states. They were mostly majors of fancy-buzz word disciplines with almost comedic descriptors. It felt as though I was reading a typical social media expert’s Twitter bio.

The applicants were relentless, following up within a day or two, asking when they could interview. I even had representatives from the respective career development centers contact me and offer recommendations.

Wow. I knew any role in social media was hot, but didn’t realize how hot.

Most of my interviews were 15 minutes max. I’d start with: “So what does your major mean?” or if their major wasn’t media related, “Why are you interested in this role?”

Their well-rehersed answers were synonymous to the typical rhetoric in our industry: “The medium to reach audiences is changing. Companies must utilize new media, such as Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation and create buzz.” – followed by an exhale of relief, relaxing of shoulders and a smile of accomplishment. That proud moment of achievement that they were able to recite the definition without stumbling was endearing. I’ve been there. We all have.

I’d smile an understanding smile. Then prod deeper: “Ok, now explain in plain English, what that really means to you.”

As I listened to hundreds of more carefully crafted, well researched answers, it was unfair to expect compelling thoughts, as we, the professionals in this field, have yet to define what social media really is.

Jeremiah Owyang’s recent piece: ‘How to Interview your Future Employer for the Corporate Social Strategist Position‘ is proof. A social media manager / strategist / [whatever lexicon] is still a role being shaped.

So what is a job in social media? Is it garnering an audience on respective social platforms? Content curation? Measuring growth i.e. results? Is it creating viral campaigns? Outreach? Ability to write headlines with high CTRs? Keeping up with the new hot services? Being deemed an ‘early adopter’? Familiarity of available tools? Does that showcase what social is truly capable of?

Should it be…more?

I’ve defined what social means to me by taking my experience and applying it –which I will soon share.

Have you?
Just something to think about.

2 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Taking Social Media to the Next Level.

  1. I get cold calls from folks wanting to intern so often, and you nailed that petrified yet eager and also vague vibe well here. Setting aside the fact that I don’t use interns, I agree that the “social media” arena is ever-changing, in spite of the limiting name – it keeps morphing and growing, yet remains only as useful as the people in the space. I don’t think it will ever sit still for us to define, though it can certainly be measured and quantified already, and it’s fascinating to hear the varied and completely asynchronous definitions of careers in the space colleges are churning out (mostly blindly).

    1. Hey Leslie — It’s frustrating how no one is thinking of what’s next. To me, it’s like the Daily Deal (Groupon/LivingSocial) dilemma, where the leaders are not thinking of how to make this industry sustainable.

      Oh, well.

      Thanks for your comment!

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