It’s been two months since my move to Washington, and I’m glad to report that I’ve found a way to get more involved with my new city: I’m volunteering as social media coordinator for the neighborhood of South Park, Seattle. Aside from gaining the satisfaction of volunteering, I’m also brushing up a useful skill that was not at all part of my graduate school curriculum.
Recently, I had a conversation with a social media strategist about the skills that employers look for in a social media coordinator, and I also read Augie Ray’s response to the article “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” There was a common vein in the conversation and in the article: to be taken seriously in the world of social media, you need experience in a client-facing position. A thousand Facebook friends do not a social media expert make. And I agree. Of course, that doesn’t mean I think that no recent grad (like, you know, me) should be hired as social media managers. Instead, I think that universities should recognize that social media will be an important part of their marketing and communication alumni’s jobs and incorporate practical experience into the curriculum.
One of my favorite projects in graduate school was generating an integrated marketing strategy in Foundations of Integrated Marketing because the professor found us a real client to work with, the Tallahassee Roller Girls. We were able to have a meeting with them to find what they wanted from a marketing standpoint and later present our strategy to them, which were useful practical experiences. I envision a class that takes the same practical approach to social media management, where students are partnered with real clients who need a social media presence. I was fortunate to learn some aspects of social media management at my internship at Onyx Group, like using applications to find and manage content, but a course that went in depth about the analytics aspect of social media would have been amazing.
If you’re curious about what I’m doing with South Park’s social media presence, you can visit the neighborhood’s Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest page. I worked on a strategy with the president of the neighborhood association, I’m providing content for the pages, and I am focusing on growing the accounts. Twitter launched this week and I am happy with the exposure the page has been getting through mentions and retweets.
What skills do you think a social media manager needs?