Social media is a culture—not a technology

If you ever have a few minutes to spare, find a job description for “social media” or “new media” and see the required qualifications. 

 

Universally they call for someone with technical skills.

 

Never – not once – are social skills, emotional intelligence, or personal qualities ever mentioned.

 

Think about it: From a job description point of view you can be a so-called “social media expert” but have absolutely no personal integrity, no commitment to transparency, and no belief in the importance of collaboration or information-sharing.

 

Wow.

 

Imagine if somebody were to put an ad on “Match.com” seeking a husband or a wife with “qualifications” like these:

 

·      Must be good-looking.

·      Must have high-paying job or be rich.

·      Must have spacious home in fancy neighborhood

·      Must be able to produce children.

 

…and so on.

 

Wouldn’t that be ridiculous?

 

A relationship ad, we expect, will mention things like caring, compassion, personal interests, religious beliefs, and so on. The things that are eternal. The things that matter.

 

Only superficial people ask for superficial things. And those people don’t belong in committed relationships. Because anything can happen, anytime, anywhere. And the “corporate culture” of a marriage is to be able to adapt to those realities and move on.

 

The same thing holds true for social media. It is called “social” for a reason. The use of interactive communication tools implies a culture in which communication skills are prized. A new way of doing things. A break with the past. An openness to feedback and a belief that transparency is better than hiding things.

 

So if you advertise for social media pros but don’t ask for these skills, favoring instead temporary tools like Blogger or Twitter or Facebook – tools that will no doubt be surpassed or evolved or changed utterly and rapidly over the next few years – what are you really asking for?

 

I will tell you. You have asked for an administrative assistant whose primary qualification is knowledge of Microsoft Word—rather than deference, discretion, and dedication.

 

The biggest insult an organization can commit in dipping its toes into social media is to cut and paste its press releases into the window box used for composing a blog.

 

The biggest achievement is changing the way we do business.

 

The next time you consider who you want to run your social media function, ask if it is really social media you want to do at all—and then hire accordingly.

About

Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, www.AllThingsBrand.com and www.DannielleBlumenthal.com, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.