I enjoy various using social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook. I primarily use them for connecting with others socially, and I occasionally post business related messages. I do not post spam messages and make sure to post “good content.” I know there are many people who follow these same types of guidelines. A recent article from Canadian Press writer Tamsynn Burgmann, which was also posted on Yahoo! Canada, details how companies are now working to build their online presence through various social networking outlets. Going back a just few years, I could not have imagined this type of social networking, nor the side benefits. I hope you will find the following article helpful:
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Calling all wired-in 20-somethings with a flair for Facebook and a talent with Twitter: you can make a career out of your perpetual online presence.
As employers have moved to crack down on staff using office time to post photos to Flickr or tweet ruminations about their misadventures, the savviest companies have instead mobilized their cyber social butterflies as a key part of business strategy.
And those organizations currently lacking such people have posted help wanted ads for “social media experts.”
“If someone is going to call themselves a social media expert, they’ll say ‘Hey, I know how to use all these different online tools – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – and harness them for an organization, brand or a company,” said Theodora Lamb, whose title is “community animator” for a website called Thebigwild.org.
Lamb, 26, tends to the 24/7 site by facilitating an ongoing conversation with its online visitors. Thebigwild.org – created as a partnership between Mountain Equipment Co-Op and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – is a campaign-oriented website dedicated to protecting Canada’s forests and wildlife.
Her tasks include typing relevant 140-character messages, responding to posts by site visitors, producing snappy web videos and managing contests. While performing all these roles, she must continuously create new and focused content with the aim of generating traffic.
“A social media animator at heart needs to be a storyteller, because that’s how you’re going to engage your audience,” Lamb said. “(You must) be honest, tell true stories, bring people into it, get them to tell their stories and keep that story going.”
Unlike traditional advertising, where communications personnel push out a message hoping to attract eyeballs, social media is effective because it’s a two-way channel – and that means its audience doesn’t just want to listen, but to provide feedback, get acknowledgment they’ve been heard and keep the conversation rolling.
“What younger people bring to the table is that they understand social media culture, because it’s actually the culture they live in,” said Alexandra Samuel, who teaches a continuing education course on social media at the University of British Columbia.
Samuel, 38, and her husband Rob Cottingham, 46, are Vancouver-based social media gurus who founded one of the world’s earliest social media companies, Social Signal, in 2005. On Thursday they publicly unveiled the company’s strategies for running a social media company, including techniques for training social media professionals.
Working at a mid-sized company, social media experts can expect to earn a salary in the range of $40,000 to $50,000, Samuel said.
“What makes it a really good career choice for people is that, in a lot of fields, if you’re in your 20s people don’t take you seriously and there’s a sense you haven’t paid your dues,” she said. “This is one of the few fields where you can come in as a 23-year-old and be seen as an authority.”
Channing Rodman, 29, who runs the social media component of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation website, says there’s another side to that coin: you have to take yourself seriously.
“Don’t let people not take you seriously. Not only is it a viable career option, it’s a culture shaper and it’s not going away,” she said.
But that definitely can be a challenge at times, admitted Rodman, who notes people uninterested in social media tend to dismiss it. Her daily routine includes encouraging participation via Twitter, adding links for others to check out and making web videos that commend supporters as superheroes for donating to the worthy cause.
Despite the obstacles, she considers it a dream job.
“You don’t have to be a tech-genius, you just have to be someone who’s interested in playing, who’s interested in conversation and who’s willing to play with the medium and see how you can get people not to just talk, but to talk about something that matters.”
It only takes a search on Craigslist or other mainstream job site to get a taste of the opportunities out there, from the Vancouver Olympic Committee to Electronic Arts to World Wildlife Fund to Red Bull.
Also recognizing the demand are educational institutions, many of which have started offering courses in social media, from continuing education classes like those at UBC to a full master’s degree out of Birmingham City University in England.
But for those trying to break in without formal training, Samuel offers several tips:
1) Clean up your current online social profile. Ensure anything with your name attached to it on the web appears as you’d want a potential employer to view it.
2) Don’t limit yourself to Facebook. Start participating is professional-oriented social spaces, like Linked-In.
3) Start a pet project. Show you have initiative and ability to engage others by starting a small project and getting participants.
4) Pick up some traditional communications skills. While social networking may be second nature, you’ll win over employers if you also have some classic knowledge under your belt.