Students Perception of Qualifications for Successful Social Media Coordinator

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Social media has grown explosively and become very popular in recent years; the average time spent on social media is increasing steadily, especially among young people. Organizations, public or private, have realized the importance of social media as a powerful tool for establishing relationships with citizens or consumers. Although potential benefits from social media could be enormous, organizations face a big challenge in taking advantage of social media, since the old way of managing traditional media does not work for social media and numerous social media platforms make the issue of managing social media complicated. More and more organizations want to hire some professionals as an attempt to manage and utilize social media effectively for their businesses or projects. Job titles commonly posted in the job market are Social Media Coordinator, Social Media Specialist, Social Media Manager, Online Community Manager, Public Relations Specialist, and so on. A latest report by US Department of Labor estimated the number of jobs Public Relations Specialists in 2008 to be about 275,000 and projected jobs to grow 24% over the next decade, which would be much higher than other occupations. Universities need to prepare a curriculum for students who want these jobs. The authors of this paper surveyed about 400 students at a business school regarding various aspects of social media and qualifications and skills for a successful Social Media Coordinator.

INTRODUCTION

Social media, defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content" (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010), has grown explosively and become very popular in recent years, thanks to the advances in diverse Web 2.0 technologies. Social media platforms provide various SNSs (Social Network Services) which attract hundreds of millions of users worldwide. According to ComScore, as of October 2011, 1.2 billion users are enjoying SNSs around the world and 98% of online users in the US are using social media (ComScore, 201 la). More specifically, Facebook had 845 million active users at the end of December 201 1 (Facebook, 2012). Twitter hit 100 million active users in 201 1 (Twitter, 2012) and an estimate of registered Twitter accounts reached 500 million in February 2012 (Twopcharts, 2012).

In addition, the average time spent on social media is increasing steadily, especially among young people. Online users were spending 19% of all time spent on the web in October 2011, in contrast with 6% in March 2007 (ComScore, 2011a). Millennials who were born between 1981 and 2000 spent 41% of online time on Facebook in September 201 1 (ComScore, 2011b).

Social media help users build social relationship by connecting members or inviting even non-members. Users can interact with friends or meet new people in cyberspace. In addition, users as consumers can also express or exchange their views on products/services or organizations.

Public and private organizations have also realized the importance of social media as a powerful tool for establishing relationships with citizens or consumers. They want to explore opportunities that leverage on the popularity of social media. McKinsey survey reported that 72% of executives from 4,200 companies responded that they used at least one social media platform (Bughin et al., 201 1). Another survey result showed that 80% of companies use social media for recruitment in 2011 (Job vite, 2011) while another survey revealed that 93% of marketers were employing social media for marketing (Stelzner, 201 1).

There are well known cases where companies or individuals have already embraced social media successfully. A pop singer has used social media to launch a new song and to strengthen his celebrity image (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2012). Likewise, an organization can build and strengthen its brand image or public relations. …