Social Media Skinny

Social media has shifted from trend to mainstay in the worlds of journalism and public relations. In order for a journalist or PR specialist to be successful, the strategic and smart use of social media is key.

As Twitter becomes our 24/7 news source, Instagram our aesthetically pleasing marketing tool and Facebook our hyper community message board, social media has taken over the communications universe. A current social media account is important for any journalist to stay relevant and aware of breaking news. As a public relations specialist, social media strategies and campaigns are some of the greatest tools we possess.

While social media is now a given across communications channels, a question emerges: Are social media jobs really necessary? Are the just a means to exploit our own skills to bring in a little bit more cash?

A search engine optimization specialist, social media strategist, social media marketing coordinator and blogger are all skills we possess as public relations specialists, yet all are titles appearing as current LinkedIn job listings. Are we using our skills to carve out a too-narrow niche in the job market that only we can fill?

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6 Responses to Social Media Skinny

  1. Lauren Thompson says:

    I think it’s good for some organizations to have social media specialists and other “niche” positions. With so many new technologies emerging, especially on social media, it helps to have one or two professionals dedicated to vetting out new mediums of social communication and determining which ones can give our client(s) the best ROI.

    A PR practitioner overwhelmed by dabbling into all areas of our profession may not have time to learn about the nuances and audiences of emerging communication platforms. They’re so busy strategizing and making everything run effectively that there may be less time to try new things. By using specialists strategically, we can implement time for innovation into our daily schedules.

    The difficulty with specialization is that it requires a highly qualified and sometimes larger staff, which some organizations cannot accommodate. For smaller organizations, it may be better to have a few PR generalists rather than a large team of experts. What do you think?

  2. Aubrey Badger says:

    Your post poses a great question, Natalie! While public relations professionals have the skills and expertise to be all of the things you list (SEO and social media strategist, social media marketing coordinator and blogger), do they really have the time for it? It’s no secret that PR professionals are the most stressed for time (eg. Pressat’s survey that claimed journalists and media staff consume the most coffee), so between all of their other jobs (press release writing, event coordinating, script writing, impressions measuring), are there enough hours in the day? What I have found, especially in my internships below a public relations coordinator or communications director, is that they will assign an intern to handle social media and blogging, with supervision. While it can be time consuming, it takes some of the burden off of the PR person. I don’t think that a social media expert could stand alone as a profession, but I think PR pros definitely need a little help sometimes.

  3. Juliet Moo says:

    In this fast growing global marketplace, social media is surely an important element in most businesses. However, not all businesses require a social media specialist. For small businesses, having a competent PR team should be enough as most PR practitioners are social media savvy. Nevertheless, I can see how some companies would require one or several employees to focus on social media. For example, social media platforms for large corporations are bound to have heavier traffic compared to smaller companies. Having someone handle social media could be just as important as other public relations and marketing positions.

    Ultimately, I do not think that a special position for social media is needed, because any well-trained PR practitioner is capable of carrying out the tasks of a social media specialist.

  4. Johana Soto says:

    That is a very good point, social media is used by everyone and to some extent we do use it to our own benefit to become experts in it and get some money. However, I also think that it is beneficial for companies to use people in public relations because they know what makes a successful social media account. Everyone can post a picture but not everyone can keep the conversation going. Isn’t that really what businesses are aiming for when they use these tools. I think it’s great that media sources like Facebook and Instagram are becoming ways to promote things without just giving an ad. It’ll be interesting to see new techniques emerging from these popular accounts.

  5. Riannon Maki says:

    I find your question “Are social media jobs really necessary?” very interesting. I think there has been an odd shift surrounding social media. For the first 5 years of social media, it seemed that it was an add-on to many other positions. When it became popular and organizations understood the value in social media as a real tool and not an after thought, positions started to pop up that were strictly social media. Now, as the working force is almost 100% on social media, I think that we will see another shift were the basics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even sites like Snapchat will just be another part of our jobs. What I think will emerge are more specific jobs in social media such as building an organization an app (which I think will get easier and easier in the next 5 years) or the complicated creation of creating things inside social media such as ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ options. It will be less about the content and more about the software.

  6. Erin Mondt says:

    I like how your team brought up the topic of social media. We use it everyday to not only market ourselves but to promote companies and share our thoughts on certain topics. I do think social media jobs are necessary because I currently have one for Sun Devil Licensing at ASU. It is my job to organize and create all the Facebook posts and engage our Twitter followers. We do giveaways on our page every Friday that allows people to comment on the post for a chance to win. In the last year alone, we have gained over 1,000 followers due to the engagement of our fans and the constant interaction on our page.

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