I know how to swim, and about 20 years ago I took a CPR course. Do you think this qualifies me to be a lifeguard?  I’m sure I could pick up the other skills on the job, right? All that rescuing stuff.

I can cook. Maybe I should set up shop as a caterer. Who needs training?

Some believe that to become the official social media expert for an organization, you need just need mad skilz, but no formal training in communications.

According to this article from the Canadian Press, the hottest job for young Facebook- savvy people is that of social media expert. Although the reporter acknowledges that training is available from educational institutions, she also states that it’s possible to break into social media without formal training. Here’s all you need to do:

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.

It’s the last point that rankles. I wonder what they mean by “picking up” some communications skills. And what is “classic knowledge?”

What do you think? Can a person with no experience in communications, marketing or customer relations become your company’s social media guru? Am I missing something here?

4 COMMENTS

  1. I see what you’re getting at, but the reverse argument is also true: if you want a Social Media expert in your organization, would you rather have a seasoned communicator that can write news releases and corporate newsletters (but not not necessarily be tech-savvy), or a peppy youngster that has spent their whole life communicating online?

    I’m not saying that the two are mutually exclusive (I think that the Social Media community of the GTA is made of people who are both trained communicators AND tech-savvy blogger types) for the particular role outlined in that article, giving the job to someone like that girl who works at thebigwild makes sense.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Parker. I am glad to see your point of view. In an ideal world, I think the “social media expert” needs to be savvy in communications AND the online world. I can see potential problems if organizations hire someone who may be a Facebook genius but doesn’t know how to write or how to talk to customers. It’s not the same as IMing with your friends.

    Over the past year, we’ve seen a few bad situations that were precipitated by an “intern” who misused Twitter or FB. Maybe we’ll see more of this? Or maybe the seasoned people will wake up and learn social media. 😉
    Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  3. I disagree with Parker. Yes, you need to use the tools to understand them and get the most out of them. But I agree with Donna, this knowledge, interest and experience in social media must be combined with honed communications skills if you are representing an organization. As per Donna’s example, I am a great parent. It doesn’t mean I can run a successful daycare.

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