With all of the attention social media has garnered in the past five years, it might surprise you to learn that “Social Media Jobs DC is the first online community dedicated to advancing this particular career path for both employers and job seekers. Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, a fluent social media practitioner, founded the company to help social media gain the credibility it deserves as a discipline. Social Media Jobs DC recently entered beta.
“If you search the subject ‘social media jobs,’ you’ll get a lot of hits. I estimate that 90% of search results will be related to how to find a job using Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The difference for us is that we view social media as a career path,” states Ruiz-McPherson.
Companies struggle with how to integrate this emerging communications discipline into their organizations, from determining what role social media should play to defining the job functions that will support it. According to a recent Grant Thornton survey:
- 48% of senior executives think social media is important an important form of marketing
- 53% expect the use of social media to grow quickly over the next year
- 76% of companies surveyed did not have social media policies
Social Media Jobs DC gives companies and candidates a place to start. In addition to creating original content for the industry, the company curates information in the areas of human resources, general legal issues associated with social media, industry news, and infographics.
Social Media Jobs DC features positions in two categories: 1) jobs that have predominantly social responsibilities, and 2) and all functions within social organizations (think LivingSocial). Staff cull through listings to ensure that they fit the company’s criteria and highlight the social media requirements.
Ruiz-McPherson says she’s noticing some interesting trends that demonstrate how quickly the industry is maturing. “We see a transition taking place. Employers used to look for candidates who could use the social tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now, they’re starting to look for people who have the portable skills traditionally associated with marketing. Savvy employers want effective communicators who can develop and implement successful business strategies.”
“Executives have begun to talk about the need for social executives to span organizational functions. Today’s leaders recognize that compartmentalizing functions into silos hinders performance and see that social professionals play a key role in bridging the gaps,” says Ruiz-McPherson.
As with other disciplines, employers seek candidates who can demonstrate results. Key metrics include categories as diverse as community influence and engagement, conversions, customer satisfaction, and product development. Because the discipline is still relatively new and rapidly evolving, only a few educational institutions have degreed programs that includes social business as part of their curriculum. West Virginia University offers a certificate that can be earned online.
To Ruiz-McPherson, having a geo-friendly service is just one more element that sets her company apart. “We vet the jobs for relevance and professionalism to ensure they qualify as positions in line with a social media career path. Right now, we’re focused on providing timely resources and helpful tools that will build a strong, vibrant and informed community.”
With the Presidential election just around the corner, perhaps it’s time to revive the discussion about political cookies. Earlier this year, a number of publications (including HuffPost and Technology Review) warned voters that the political parties would monitor voters’ online behaviors. While that may not seem worse than Google or Facebook watching your every move, it actually is. Cross-referencing your online browsing habits with voter registration and other very personal information enables the parties to reach out and effectively press your particular buttons.
The behavior goes beyond serving up political ads that will resonate with you. According to the most recent online chatter, personalization includes telemarketing efforts. As the candidates compete for non-hanging chads, they’ll do whatever is necessary to lure you into their camps. This practice is more than invasion of privacy. It is outright manipulation.
If the political parties want to put their ears to the social media ground, fine. But please, let’s have less posturing and more authenticity. That’s the only way the American people can figure out candidates’ core values to measure what kind of leaders they might be. (The words honesty and integrity come to mind. Weren’t they once core values inherent to gaining the Presidential nod?)
If you want to fly under the Big Brother’s radar then perhaps it’s time to join an important minority. Only a small percentage of the American public deletes its browser and flash cookies. It’s about the only way you have a shot at getting a balanced perspective and worldview.
A couple of weeks ago a friend recommended Tweetcaster. As someone with responsibility for multiple Twitter accounts, the app has simplified managing social media. In addition to switching seamlessly from one account to another within the same screen, the ability to manage smart lists, comment on RTs, and ‘Zip It’ to hide tweets without unfollowing quickly made Tweetcaster a favorite app.
Two measures indicate when a conference rocks the house: 1) there are no parking spots available when you arrive; and 2) people stay for the last session and then trickle out the door. Digital East met both criteria. Featured speakers shared insights on social media, marketing, online advertising, Web analytics, UX design, mobile trends and optimization, apps, SEO, and fundraising.
Today’s post recaps the advice offered by David Favero of Shoutlet, a social media platform for the enterprise. As Sales Director, his insights nicely blend customer needs within the context of how organizations can effectively establish, deliver, and manage social media. Favero recommends that companies:
- Build a cross-disciplinary social media team. Cross-functional teams typically number 11.
- Figure out who manages the team across the enterprise and establish protocols for approval.
- Engage the audience. Posting frequency and level of engagement do not correlate—however content value and engagement do.
- Listen to who talks about you. These conversations become fuel for the engagement engine.
- Measure. Measure. Measure.
- Use a platform that gives publishing flexibility, which enables the social team to function effectively without a lot of dev or agency support.
- Find a social platform that lets you manage and analyze data across apps.
- Integrate your social platform with other apps (CRM, Google Analytics, etc.)
- Remember to ask about data security. Your customers will care.
- Ask about support. It’s nice to know you’ve got a safety net if you need it.
Social media will become more complex as the number of apps and services stuff themselves into an already fragmented market. Tools like Shoutlet will become a must-have if social holds strategic importance to your enterprise.
Thank you to all of the presenters and sponsors for making Digital East 2012 a terrific event!
Yesterday I finally broke down and registered for Klout after reading Klout Scores: The SAT for Social Media Jobs. Using only accounts I make publicly available, Klout determined the topics I most influence are:
- Health food
Hmm. Those results just don’t add up. More than 250 posts about leadership, entrepreneurship, funding, recruitment, culture, marketing, social media, education, government, privacy, technology, and local business have been published (on this site and others). I’ve written two posts about TEDx, one entitled, There’s No Hierarchical Structure in Salad, which Murray A. Mann retweeted to his significant network of followers. That action alone skewed Klout results to the point of being meaningless when trying to measure personal influence in my public social networks.
One of the most concerning elements about Klout scores is that employers have apparently begun to use them as a screening mechanism when recruiting for social media jobs. Klout positions itself as ‘similar to the SAT,’ which Forbes, Social Media Club DC, and others have reported. Unfortunately, by legitimizing the company’s positioning, these media sources have done job candidates and employers a serious disservice. Here’s why:
- The SAT is a standardized test designed to assess a student’s readiness for college by measuring knowledge in three areas: mathematics (54 questions), critical reading (67 questions), and grammar (49 questions). The College Board, which oversees the program, has well-defined and accepted methodologies for establishing metrics and and a broad membership that strives to ensure impartiality. While standardized tests may be imperfect measures, Klout has developed a more imperfect algorithm, is not a standardized anything, and has no 3rd-party oversight. The fox is in its own henhouse here.
- Employers want to measure outcomes, not activities. Yet, Klout predominantly measures activity on topics and the number of people reached. Then what? Did you influence their way of thinking or cause them to take action? If not, then the activity had little value. If you’re going to measure something, then measure something that matters.
So, how much Klout did I have? Between Twitter and LinkedIn, I scored 22, which is slightly above average. Does it matter? Not really. As with every aspect in life, quality is more important than quantity. Check out this post by Robert Dempsey and you’ll see I’m not alone in thinking Klout takes people down the wrong path.
An article in today’s BizReport reveals that employees spend an average of 1.5 hours a day on social media while at work. “Particularly for those with office-based jobs, it’s not difficult to see why they might get tempted to access their social network profiles when they should be working.”
Rather than rushing out to issue a ban on the use of social media, Smartphones, and computers for personal use, perhaps a better response from management would be to understand why the behavior has become so prevalent.
Dig a little deeper and you may discover that employees used that time in a different personal way before the advent of social media. The problem isn’t Facebook and Twitter. Disengaged employees typically produce just enough to get by without geting noticed. They work out of obligation to bring home the bacon rather than passion. Most people, when given the option to make a difference for a company that does something they care about, demonstrate a wholly different work ethic. Assuming, of course, that you consciously foster those behaviors.
Productivity boils down to leadership. Questions to ask include:
- Have you created a culture that enables people to excel?
- Have you selected the right people for the jobs the company needs to get done?
- Have you communicated goals and expectations clearly?
- Have you provided all of the tools and training needed to get the work done effectively?
- Does the team have chemistry?
- Is the work challenging and fun for the people doing it?
The list goes on, but you get the gist.
Putting a ban on the use of social media without addressing root cause organizational issues will simply transfer employees’ attention to something else that makes them look busy without being more productive. You can legislate or lead, but not both. The choice is yours.
A lot, actually. It struck me how easy it is to take others for granted when yet another automated DM for following someone on Twitter hit my inbox this this morning. An impersonal note broadcasting your services to everyone who follows you in a social network is worse than no message at all. Mass marketing through a very personal channel tells people you are more important than they are. Your DM creates static in overloaded inboxes and social media streams. We hit delete. Your message hits the trash.
The obvious one-way communication in a channel best used to engage and build communities reminds me of meetings and networking events where you bump into someone who goes into transmit mode and never re-emerges to engage in conversation. The best way to capture and keep someone’s attention is to ensure there’s something in it for them. The goal in these situations is to develop a meaningful exchange of ideas and a personal connection, which requires active listening and engagement. You cannot achieve intimacy with a message designed to speak to everyone. Those who try wind up in the corner talking to themselves.
If you’re going to persist in broadcasting, please think about what the audience wants to know rather than what you want to tell them. There’s something to be said for Marketing 101. The basics work because they stand the test of time. While technology may change, people’s need to connect with one another remains constant.
The founder of Modern DC Business, Hulya Aksu, wrote a terrific piece for The Huffington Post on how to use social media to gain attention in the press. I’d like to propose there’s a companion to getting press attention—and that’s reader attention. The reader’s experience no longer hangs solely on the content you create. It’s also dependent upon device and channel preferences.
Device proliferation has led to some interesting consumptions patterns. David Payne, Gannett’s Chief Digital Officer gave us a breakdown at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit earlier this month. People read USA Today as follows:
- In hard copy from 6-9 am
- Online throughout the workday
- On their Smartphones from 6-8 pm
- On tablets from 7-9 pm
An introductory session on social media at the DO GOOD SUMMIT a couple of weeks later confirmed the pattern for USA Today’s content consumption crosses media platforms. In addition, stats* from that session showed that:
- 24% of people create content
- 33% join the conversation
- 59% join social networks
- 70% spectate
- 17% are inactive
If you’re thinking those numbers don’t add up to 100%, you’re right. Online behaviors are contextual. It’s important to remember that even if few people comment on your postings, a large percentage of the people in your community are still listening… or lurking as it were.
The last element content producers cannot not overlook, however, is user experience. The transition from Smartphone to tablet may indicate that size matters. I think perhaps it’s an indication that the interface matters more. For example, the new LinkedIn interface for iPad rocks. Since its release I’m much more likely to use my iPad than my laptop or iPhone to access that particular social network. And as my friends will attest, I’m not one of the lurkers.
Watching the traffic on a local mailing list yesterday made it clear that that some employers have crossed the privacy line. Apparently companies have begun to feel comfortable requesting your Facebook credentials during the recruitment process. If asked, you should always politely decline.
It’s one thing if your personal information is publicly available. It’s quite another matter if employers want to snoop through content on your private social networks. They do not have that right, nor should they be able to reject you as a qualified candidate if you refuse to comply with their request. Providing login information violates the terms of service for all social media sites and that should be reason enough to avoid compliance.
The issues go far deeper, though. Fellow mailing list member, Tiffany Baxendell Bridge puts the issue in its most eloquent form:
“[The request for Facebook credentials is] completely unreasonable, of course, not to mention problematic from a compliance perspective. There are huge categories of things [employers] aren’t supposed to ask applicants about: Marital status, childbearing intentions, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, etc. But these are all things people talk about quite freely on their social media presences.”
“It’s one thing to happen across this information when it’s posted right there in public for all to see. But, to specifically ask for a person’s login credentials where you know you will have full access to exactly that kind of information, even if you intend to look for something completely different, sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Above all else, you should consider refusing any offer from an employer that wants to snoop through your personal information. That behavior indicates a serious lack of respect. The relationship will not improve should you accept the job.
Thank you, Tiffany, for allowing me to share your thoughts on the subject.
Marketing has always been one of the least-carefully-managed business functions, and even in relatively stable times, before the internet and social media revolutions, vast amounts of money have been wasted on ineffective marketing, much of it avoidably.
And now things have gotten a whole lot murkier. Everything about marketing is changing, with much of it falling under the rubric of “social media.” But while these changes are real, they are far from settled. Much change remains ahead of us, most of it unpredictable.
Yet already there are legions of books, marketers and companies prescribing “the answer”. They have mastered the mechanics of the currently-popular social media and advertising platforms, and are ready to take your money so that you can check the box and say that you are there.
To not go there at all, for most industries, is foolish. But to go there unthinkingly is just as foolish. Many CEOs and executives are of the wrong generation to feel comfortable on this terrain, so the “hire an expert,” unthinking option is a tempting, default way to go. But it is an expensive option, and worse than that, one that won’t be effective and won’t grow your business.
You have no choice but to engage the problem, personally. This is the future (or at least the current future, if not the future future), and your company will have to change along with the times. But there will be scores of judgment calls that will need to be made, as well as dozens of convincing-sounding but ineffective ways people will want to spend your money. And don’t forget: Many of the “old” ways of marketing are still working for you, even though the new breed of experts have little interest in them and will want to divert your resources elsewhere.
To delegate all of these decisions is an abdication of leadership. Your job is to achieve CEO-level (if not marketer-level) mastery of the new world of marketing, and then to make discerning and tough decisions about where and how to invest and where not to – just like you do with everything else. If instead you let the generation gap get the best of you, you’ll waste a lot of money and find yourself at the mercy of trends and people you don’t understand – a bad place to be. Your choice?: Stay current, or render yourself obsolete.