Kevin E. Patterson

Employability and Lifetime Learning: Tips for the Social Media Averse

Since you’rve found your way to Inside Scoop you’re probably already social media savvy. This blog post is not necessarily for you, but maybe a friend, family member, someone you wished embraced social media more.

I recently found myself on two instances defending the value of social media to professionals outside Intel: One a sales professional, the other in marketing. They each questioned social media as a necessary business tool. The sales professional is unemployed, the marketing professional underemployed. It’s said one robin doesn’t make it spring, and while my sample size is small I wondered about a correlation — maybe causation — between social media savvy and employability. Since then I’ve noticed an interesting drumbeat by thought leaders on the same theme.

The great British business columnist Lucy Kellaway notes that social media can boost or end a career. Either outcome requires participation, however. So what about professionals who make only a token effort at social media … or opt-out altogether?

The marketing professional’s lack of social media presence was pointed out during a job interview. He told the interviewer he understood how to use social media as part of a campaign. He just didn’t want to share his personal life “with everybody.”

He didn’t get the job.

“No one can afford to hide behind the affectation that ‘Digital is for kids,'” writes Shelly Palmer in his “Are you Employable in 2012?” blog posting. {Editor Note: Link updated 1/4/2012}

Social media savvy, like tech savvy, requires embracing the new as part of lifetime learning. I first experienced tech aversion in the workplace during my ad agency days. I worked with a late-career copywriter who had already spent the better part of a decade resisting the migration from typewriter to PC. He continued opting-out of the PC era until retirement. Most of us want to stay current with the tools of our professions, however, and while there might be a learning curve for a new device there’s hardly any in becoming a social media practitioner.

Advertising Age magazine summed it up in a recent Tweet: “Social 2012 is Web 2000.” In 2000, the Web was still “new media,” requiring a lot of trial-and-error by companies and participants. Today it’s simply “digital media,” an integrated part of our daily life. For mid- or late-career job applicants, social media smarts could be an even more more critical part of the professional toolbox than otherwise imagined.

A reader comment to one of my earlier blogs summarizes this less-visible digital divide:
I love INTEL, but I hate the fact that a lowley (sic) “old man” (40!–the youngsters think I’m old) Can’t keep up with the technology and can’t make my friends and family UNDERSTAND the tech-knowledge REQUIREMENTS of today!

I replied to the reader with some references that I hoped would help him, his friends and family. He’s not alone, as my conversations with the sales and marketing professionals proved. In fact, none of us using new technologies, including social media, are alone. Posting your thoughts via the usual sites might seem like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. But like the end of that song by The Police, you might find a hundred billion bottles on your shore.

Small business owner Marci Zimmerman of Phoenix-area Delete Tattoo Removal & Laser Salon uses social media and was profiled in the September issue of Money Magazine/CNNMoney . She considers it an “adventure” getting to know her customers and uses social media to amplify her belief that “Every tattoo has a story behind it.” She mines those stories in a blog and other social media reaching hundreds of followers.

If you’re already embracing social media, congratulations. If you’re still sitting on the fence I urge you to participate. There are great social media practitioners at Intel and elsewhere to follow more experienced than me, but here are a few tips and resources for the professional toolbox:

1 Participate. You’re a subject matter specialist (if not expert) in something, so share what you know or what you like/don’t like. And not just online. Face-to-face speaking events like IGNITE Phoenix harness the power of volunteerism and inspire the city’s creative community. You can probably find similar programs in a metro area near you.

2 Keep your social media presence fresh. New apps in social media allow you to add dimension and effectivness to your social efforts. Maximum PC magazine had a fine article to “power up” your social presence. Your social media presence is not an elephant’s graveyard; plant new seeds and give it food and water. On the subject of overall digital skills, the previously mentioned Shelly Palmer blog tells you how to apply for a job in the information age, including questions you’ll probably field in a job interview.

3 Manage your privacy. Managing your privacy doesn’t necessarily mean opting-out of social media altogether. As the marketing professional learned, by not saying anything about yourself online you are, in fact, saying something about yourself. The Maximum PC article has some good tips on that as well.

At Intel, we’ve embraced social media for years, have formalized best practices which are publicly available and contributed speakerships by thought leaders like Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina) and David Veneski (@dveneski). Social media may be evolving (and growing), but it has reached maturity and part of doing business today. I’ve seen Intel colleagues like Alejandra Carvallo (@Alex) help people through the process of buying a PC as well as post-purchase. She’s one of many Intel brand ambassadors, and for the time and effort she puts into social media she’s earned a following of nearly three thousand fans. For more metrics on the value of social you can look at followers, how viral postings are, opt-ins and more, using any number of tools for measuring.

Whatever your skill level or appetite for social media, there’s always room to grow. So throw a few new tools in your professional toolbox, and resolve to make it a great 2012.

Kevin E. Patterson

About Kevin E. Patterson

Kevin is a consumer campaign manager in Intel Americas, creating integrated marketing programs for technologies beyond the PC and for techsetter audiences. His campaigns have included broadcast TV, digital signage, and online media. In his 12 years with Intel he has been an enterprise campaign manager, founding an IT community with members in over 160 countries. That community is now known as the Intel IT Center, which earned him an Intel Marketing Excellence Award. He also co-created/piloted a measurement for online advertising which earned a 2011 ARF Ogilvy Award, also now deployed globally. Previously, he worked at marketing agencies for clients such as The World Bank, Lexus, GE, and Ford. He has a Master's Degree in English Lit and is a comic book geek.

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