What is social media?
The consensus is that social media refers to any online portal, community, technology or software application that is deployed or created to disseminate, manage, organise, share and reuse content both textual and graphic.
Why do firms want a stake here?
Social media is relevant to any company whose audiences participate in or are influenced by online discussions, says Jeremy Woolf, the Global Social Media Practice Lead for Text 100, a PR consultancy based in New York, with offices across the globe.
Corporate houses such as Wipro, Hindustan Unilever, Infosys and Maruti are catching up with their western counterparts in terms of investing in this new channel. Bloggers Mind created the hugely popular Search for N campaign for the Nokia N97 cellular phone and the Tag Your Music Facebook activity for Nokia Indias Music Page. Bloggers Mind is a Word of Mouth and Conversation Analytics company basically, it helps companies to read, understand and analyse conversations taking place online on their products.
Then you also have unconventional entities like cricketers, chefs, new age spiritual gurus, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs making a splash on social media to connect to fans, release tidbits of information on their work, upload photos and respond to audience curiosity, instantly. Even organisations like NGOs, schools and colleges, public institutions, museums and art galleries, trade associations and informal society groups, are on social media, which is typically, viewed as a low-investment, high return of interest tool by those who cannot afford advertising rates of a tabloid or television to garner support for their causes.
What is the job?
At the entry level, the role of a social media executive includes:
- Assisting in planning and leading the management and implementation of strategic social media programmes
- Participating and initiating conversations across different channels.
- Consuming, creating and sharing relevant content with internal and external communities
- Monitoring and analysing conversations, social media activities and sharing the impact through reviews and reports
- Observing and assimilating trends in social media, tools, technology and applications and appropriately apply that knowledge in on-going/future campaigns.
In a nutshell, the entry level profile is (someone with one or two years experience in a communications field) either a role in social media monitoring, involving the listening in of conversations, interpreting and bracketing the same. Or a client operations role, where the person manages social media profiles for a client, of course, under supervision from a senior.
Qualifications at entry levels
Education-wise, it helps to have a communication background such as Mass Communication or English Literature. But this is not critical. There are engineers and Arts graduates also, but who are all fundamentally good communicators. On an average, there is one level of the team which has one-two years experience, another level that has two-five years experience, and then a few manager level folks, who have five-eight years experience. One can be fundamentally good at language and communication, without being a Mass Communication graduate.
What is important is to have a fundamental feel for repartee, being able to feel the position of a brand in the marketplace, being able to empathise from a consumers point of view, and create conversations on behalf of the brand, with that perspective.
For a social media agency professional, alternative career options could be to work for a brand as their internal social media head, or in other media careers that will embrace social media soon, as extensions of their current media avatars. Interesting designations are cropping up. Audience Acquisition is one such profile. Profiles like Interactive Marketing Specialist, Social Media Marketing Manager, Emerging Media and Content Manager, Social Networking and Communities Manager, Social Media Evangelists, Social Media Addicts have popped up and will be considered quite the norm in the future.
The roles and designations vary right from the executive straight up to the VP levels. So people with little to abundance of experience are all in demand. The industry is in its growth years and offers a plethora of opportunities.