But even though most recent college graduates have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, or both, employers are finding applicants underqualified when it comes to using social media for professional purposes.
Social media has drastically changed all kinds of industries. In my own experience as a news editor at The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, tweeting links to articles and breaking news updates increased page views by thousands. Since the paper created an online editor position to oversee social media, the number of Twitter followers more than doubled.
Even more broadly, businesses across the country are pushing to make themselves known online; an active social media presence can tangibly affect the bottom line. Effective social communication can do wonders for a business by increasing engagement with the public, as well as overall productivity. Corporations employ social media to not only connect with customers, but also to connect groups within the company.
“Social communication done well increases productivity, saves money and time, and improves engagement and satisfaction,” William Ward, a professor at Syracuse University whose courses on social media are some of the few offered in the country, told CNN Money. “[It's] a part of a larger culture shift changing how work gets done.”
But according to a survey by Harvard Business Review, only 12 percent of businesses that use social media believe they are doing it effectively. And universities are doing little to fix that, despite the positive effect such skills can have on graduates’ employment prospects.
Although schools are beginning to offer classes on social media, those courses are usually isolated rather than integrated into a larger curriculum. However, some elite business schools have begun to catch on. Columbia and Harvard offer social media marketing courses, and New England College has opened a social media-focused MBA.
Even though most students are familiar with at least one social network, personal social media differs drastically from using it in a professional capacity. Social media in the business world is a science, a marketing tool that — if done right — can make a company. But in order to harness the benefits of today’s hyper-connectivity, professional social media has to enter the world of higher education.