Talking to students about social media and digital marketing

Just this week, I spoke to a marketing class from a local university about my job with the Celtics and how we attack social media. The class was comprised mostly of seniors who are about to enter the job market, so where I could, I tried to give them advice about resumes, cleaning up their Facebook profiles and privacy settings (“Maybe you should lock down those pictures of you double-fisting Four Loko last weekend…” seemed to resonate) and what types of skills employers will be looking for this summer. I’ve done this several times over the last few years for a few different schools, and each time I not only find it rewarding, but I also tend learn something at the same time.

Midway through my chat, I asked them a few questions to get them talking and make it a little more interactive. “How often do you check Facebook?” (Their answer: 5-10 times a day.) “What platform do you check it from?” (It was split 50/50 between smartphone/desktop.) “How many Facebook friends do you have?” (Anywhere from 70 to 1,000+) “How many of you guys have clicked on a link on Facebook and bought Celtics tickets?” (None.) How many would buy tickets, merchandise or anything else directly off of Facebook if you could?” (None. They said they don’t trust commerce on Facebook yet. Sounds like most people on the Internet 7-8 years ago…). “How many times a day do you want to hear from the Celtics?” (Three-four times seemed appropriate to them).

Given that my chat with them was part of a class assignment, the students had to come prepared with questions, and thankfully, they’d at least done some of their homework. While it didn’t appear that any of them had Googled me — or maybe none were bold enough to admit to it in this setting — they’d at least put some thought into what it is I might actually do for the team. They asked some interesting questions about what we’re trying to accomplish on Facebook, what we think about our players who Tweet, and how much time we spend using these mediums to communicate with fans.

One of the most interesting things I gleaned from our conversation was that very few of them actually thought they could make a career of social media. And while I stressed to them that the candidates who’d be most appealing would be those with backgrounds in web technology and analytics, it was surprising that they were surprised that companies were hiring in the social media space.

One of the points I try to make to students is that my job has changed dramatically in the last six seasons since I started with the Celtics in a webmaster role, and I expect it continue to evolve as the digital and social media landscape shifts. So while social media may be the hot topic today, their jobs may entail technologies and platforms that haven’t been dreamed up. That’s why I spend so much time tweeting and reading and blogging about the industry, because it keeps me in the know, even if there’s literally something new to learn everyday.

As for them? It’s up to them to stay ahead of the curve. If they’re serious about a career in social media or digital marketing, the learning will have to continue well after they’ve left school.

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