Are new business grads getting an “F” in social media marketing?

A fresh crop of marketing students is about to be graduated from the nation’s universities so at this time of year I normally get calls from friends, and friends of friends, asking me to talk to their kids about careers in marketing. I’m happy to oblige, but the conversations this year have been disheartening.  They have gone something like this:

ME: So do you have any experience on the social web?

STUDENT:  No. Well, I do have a Facebook page for my friends. Have about 3,000 of them.

And it goes downhill from there. I have spoken to five marketing seniosr from very good schools and only one was on Twitter or LinkedIn and none of them had ever blogged or done social media marketing on a job or internship.

I just have to ask … what is going on? My own daughter is entering her senior year, majoring in journalism and business at a very well-respected university, and has yet to have any significant mention of the social web in her classes.

I realize this is a difficult subject to teach … there is no text book on it and there probably never will be. Still, aren’t business schools totally amiss if they don’t at least teach students enough to help them land a job? Forget that … enough to to help them LOOK for a job?  I mean really … looking for a job and they’re not even on LinkedIn?

I haven’t seen any stats on this but if I had to guess, I would say 80 percent of entry level marketing jobs today involve some element of the social web. What the heck is going on in our colleges?

Do you have opinions from the field?

PR versus marketing: The final battle over social media

ShareLast week Vocus, a provider of on-demand PR management software, announced the results of a survey which found that the turf battle between PR and marketing rages on, especially over ownership of social media initiatives.

Key survey findings include the following:

  • Lines between PR and marketing continue to blur.  78 percent report to the same boss.
  • Turf battles still evident.  34% cite organizational structures, functional silos or turf battles as the single largest barrier to integrated communications.
  • Ownership of social media and blogging up in the air. 43% of PR professionals say they should own it, while 34% make the same claim.
  • The two groups come together on the need for measurement. 56% of both marketing and PR professionals agree that an integrated communications increases overall effectiveness of their programs and 48% cite sales and ROI as the most important metrics.

Honestly I’m weary of this discussion over ownership. It doesn’t matter who “owns” the actual social web communication activities as long as it is clearly and precisely supporting the marketing strategy.  On most big strategy questions, I usually think the answer is “it depends.”  But this is one of the few cases where the answer seems beyond doubt: Marketing should ultimately own the integrated communications strategy. Here’s the logic:

1) A company exists to attract and retain customers, thereby creating shareholder value.  Peter Drucker famously said that the “purpose of a company is marketing and innovation. Everything else is overhead.”

2) While there are many useful PR-related social media applications, directly or indirectly these activities are enabling a civic, political, labor, and business climate to make it easier to manufacture and sell products to customers. If they are not supporting this central goal, the activities should end.

3) Everything a company says or doesn’t say — on the social web or otherwise — affects the brand image, which must be singularly controlled with laser focus by marketing, without question.

I cannot fathom a situation where a communication channel like a corporate blog is not ultimately considered a marketing function … even if the PR department is writing it, which is perfectly fine.

For my PR friends who are feeling testy at this point, I would like to proudly proclaim that I started my career in your worthy field, so I do not have an anti-PR bias. I have an anti-ridiculous-strategy-bias.  And to claim that PR should lead customer-facing activities is ridiculous.   Support, complement, even help devise … yes.  But lead, no.

Further, while this “battle” rages on supposedly, I have not seen one coherent explanation as to why PR should not defer to marketing on overall strategy issues.

Please, can we end this debate?

New site curates government social media usage

If you market to governments and governmental agencies, a new social media directory may be extremely useful to your efforts.

Microsoft just launched a site called Gov2Social, a directory that aims to list state-by-state for the social media participation for elected officials, state government agencies, cities, towns and counties.

The project is counting on users to input their government’s social media participation.  It currently has about 500 entries so it’s usefulness is pretty limited at the moment but keep an eye on it if you market and sell to governments.

When the website is populated, it will be possible to sort and analyze top government social media users by city and state.  Microsoft also plans to add add podcasts, analytics, case studies and best practices.

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