The other day on Twitter, someone threw out the question “What are good tips for students looking into social media as a career?” (Of course, since it was on Twitter there were fewer characters and more #hashtags.) People then responded what they thought, which demonstrated the beauty of social media, but this conversation completely blew me away. Social media is now a viable career option where ten years ago, no one was completely sure what social media was and now it’s an occupation.
The difficult part of social media as a job is that the field is changing all the time with new sites and concepts rising above the old ones. In this constantly changing environment, it can be difficult for students to learn all of the ins and outs of social media. However, students, commonly referred to as “millennials”, are thought of having more experience with social media because they have grown up with it and are constantly connected to the online world. While this may mean that they understand how social media works for them, in regards to making plans with friends or posting pictures of their hobbies, they may not completely understand how social should work for businesses.
The biggest tip I could give to students looking to make a career in social media is to hone their writing skills. Social is all about communication and you communicate through you’re writing, particularly with the boom of content marketing. This is where the dissonance comes in between school and social media. In school, students are asked to write extensive papers about one topic and for anyone that has recently graduated or is currently in school, you learn quickly how to take something that could be summarized in a paragraph and expand for days in order to reach the page minimum (please note that this is not a recommended practice but sometimes, it just has to happen). On social however, you need to take something you are, hopefully, passionate about and shrink it down to fit into the allotted amount of characters. When doing this for a business, it becomes increasingly difficult because you need to be engaging, honest, thought-provoking, human, informative, self-promoting, and humble all without going over 140 characters.
Unfortunately, this is not something that can be easily taught in a college classroom. Students need to learn by doing and, more importantly, listening. There are tons of great brands out there that have somehow managed to master social media. Follow these brands and follow people that are already in the field because there are many social media experts out there that have learned by doing and are now influencers in the field. Take advantage of the fact that you have the ability to communicate with these influencers and see how they got to where they are.
Social media is no longer just a tool to communicate with your friends. It is now a place for brands to engage with their customers. In the constantly changing world of social media students must stay observant and learn to go with the punches because, if we have learned anything about social media up to this point, we know that it will not stay the same for long.
What do you think is the most important lesson for students interested in social media to learn?