Is Social Media a Job, or Part of a Bigger Picture?

I found a recent reporter’s question intriguing: “Is social media a field of expertise in and of itself? Or will it eventually become subsumed into pretty much everything?”

My belief: ultimately, social media expertise will relate to the field of communications in the same way that graphic design, video, media relations, etc., currently fit under that umbrella.

Social media represents opportunities for communicating with an audience, but that communication does not occur in a vacuum – to be effective it needs to be part of a coordinated communication approach designed to reach some specific target audience with some specific objective. Expertise in using these tools will be important for communicators and there will likely always be a need for tactically oriented roles that focus on this area (just as, particularly in larger organizations or agencies, there continues to be the need for those who specialize in print, broadcast, web development, etc.).

There will also be the need for those with social media expertise to serve in other areas of organizations – e.g. customer service (the use of social media as a communication tool to educate, inform and respond to customer requests and concerns) and HR (the use of social media for recruitment and employee communication/education).

At this point in time, there is great need for those who are expert in this area. We’re currently in an environment where the vast majority of those who have been in the work world for some time do not have that expertise. Even students graduating from many universities have not been taught skills specifically related to the use of these tools and, most importantly, how these tools should be incorporated into organizations’ overall communication plans.

It has only been within the past few years that programs have emerged to specifically address the use of social media. Despite the belief that all young people are well versed in these tools I have not found that to always be the case in the classes I teach which has surprised me. I think, though, that as with any new technology, it takes a while before enough people have had enough opportunity to gain experience and think about how the technology can ultimately benefit them, their organizations and society as a whole.

For now, social media is often still a job – it will become though, I believe, part of the bigger communication landscape.

Recommended Reading:

Likeable Social Media

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

 

 

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