Teaching the facebook generation
Earlier this month, I read an interesting article from Business Week. It was written by a college professor in the US and discussed the impact that changes in technology have had on marketing and PR students and how, in addition to knowing the 4 P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Place Promotion), they also need to demonstrate technical skills that a decade ago were required only of those in highly technical major subjects.
I completed my MA in Professional Communication 2 years ago but since then, the social media revolution has taken off big time. Practical skills such as optimising content for a website, developing keyword strategies and managing e-mail marketing campaigns were not part of the curriculum but if they were, would have been extremely useful and saved me alot of time in my business. Nowadays for students, a basic knowledge of how social media including sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Tumbir (? – never heard of that one), and Twitter can be used to leverage a marketing message isn’t optional – it’s a requirement.
PR students must now write news releases that are search-engine friendly, pitch bloggers, “listen” to a continual flood of consumer-generated content on multiple social sites from YouTube to Facebook to Twitter, generate social media news releases, and engage with blogs, Facebook fans and multiple other sites. These are all great skills that potential employers need from graduates to help them manage their digital strategies for them. And they assume that because the students are young, they are familiar with the social media world. The problem is that students cannot leverage these tools professionally unless they are taught them. They must learn the difference in writing a news release, a blog post, a Twitter update, or generating content for a Facebook fan page. They have to know which metrics should be tracked on a Web site.
Why is all this important? Because businesses that don’t know how to respond to and use social media are filling knowledge gaps in staff by hiring students with these skills fresh from college. In the lean organizations of 2009, students will not simply learn on the job; they will be asked to implement these tools strategically because no one else knows how.
The challenge for faculty in all business functions—and all disciplines across higher education – is staying on top of these changes and knowing what to teach in the classroom. Professors need to lead students by example by knowing the mechanics of social media and showing students how to use them strategically for the good of their employers, and also for the good of their career.
Click here to read the entire article from Business Week.