I often ask my students at Curry College, where I ride herd over our Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the undergrad PR courses, how active they are on social media…what platforms, how much time spent, etc.
I never fail to be surprised at how comparatively little most of them are engaged.
Granted they seem to be engaged somehow during classes…phones appear to take precedence over actually listening to what their esteemed professor is saying at the front of the room. But actually on a social media platform engaged in some sort of communication with others? Not so much.
I recently saw some statistics that say this generation is most active on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Interesting that Facebook has fallen down on the list…probably because so many users from my age-group are there…the “graying of Facebook”!
My point with my students, though, is this. “Most of you are Communication majors hoping to venture out into the ‘real world’ and find yourself some high-salary/low-hours job of some sort. You don’t know yet what that job will be, but you’re hoping it will be sitting there holding a sign with your name on it when you graduate and walk off the stage.”
Here’s the deal though. More and more hiring managers are turning to social media as a means of sourcing (finding) potential candidates to fill available position.
Question to students: “How am I going to find you on social media if you’re not there?”
Or, perhaps more important, “What will I find if I do happen to find you on a social media platform?”
As I caution my students, “If you are on one of these platforms and you want to connect with me, I will take a look at your activity online before accepting. If I find questionable photos and excessive profanity, we will never connect.”
Having laid the ground rules, I then launch into my “why it’s important for you to be reasonably proficient with the most common platforms” spiel.
First, as already mentioned, because that’s how your future employer is going to connect with you. Roughly 86% of companies report making their most recent hires via LinkedIn. Are you on LinkedIn?
Second, social media platforms have become an integral part of the communication/ marketing mix. Consumers more and more are turning first to social media to find out about your product or service.
Third, social media allows you, as the communicator, to connect directly with your current and potential customers. “Gatekeepers” in the traditional media world are slowly becoming extinct.
As your future employer, I am going to be looking to you to help drive my social outreach efforts. It’s not that I’m not familiar with and reasonably active on a number of platforms. But the fact of the matter is, you grew up with social media; I’m learning social media today.
So the question for you, young up-and-coming communication superstar, is: “Are you ‘social’ enough?”