How to explain your social media job

I was recently invited to speak to students in a social media innovations class at Temple University.

I’ve been doing social media professionally for about five years, but I still haven’t found the best way to explain to people what it is I really do and how I do it. It became clear to me during this class why that is.

Though I work closely with the marketing and membership departments at WHYY, most of the social media work I do is concentrated in the newsroom. And the social media I use with my journalism students is also news-based. It wasn’t until I found myself talking directly with students whose career paths are more business-oriented and product-based that I fully realized why it’s so hard to explain social media positions.

“You pretty much can’t teach anything these days without incorporating social media.”

Bingo. That was on one of the (rather boring-looking) slides I brought with me to the class. Everyone uses social media, and because there’s no one clear purpose for it, there’s no quick explanation for how to use it.

Rather than recap my presentation, here’s a rundown of what the students found interesting enough to tweet:


Yeah, it kinda is. Similar to what I wrote above, it’s not always fun or easy to explain social media to someone who doesn’t use it or isn’t interested in it. But getting to show people how to make those connections is pretty cool.

I tell my own students this all the time. People are going to look for you on the Internet, and they’re going to find you. You should be in control of what they find.

It’s not everyday that you can explain your job well enough and express it accurately enough that you can make someone else say, “I wanna do that.” I consider this a huge win.

This is true and this is something we spend a lot of time discussing at NewsWorks in terms of breaking news. News stories happen in real time on the scene. If a news organization wants to provide accurate breaking news, that has to be done at a time and place convenient to the audience.

Yes, this is unfortunately true. NewsWorks, like many other businesses and media organizations, has a small budget to promote our best work on Facebook. It’s no secret that Facebook expects brands to pay for exposure. The question is really how much more it’s going to cost brands over time, and whether the return (reach, engagement and clicks) will be proportional.

Another thing I tell my students — and encourage coworkers to remember. Your Twitter account, your website, whatever is it you’re doing online, should be about you and the work you want to show off. Your website header shouldn’t be about the class you’re currently taking, and your Twitter account shouldn’t be over-branded by your employer. This is your digital presence and it’s your work. Own it.

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Shannon Wink

Shannon Wink is a Philadelphian and experienced reporter, editor, community manager and content marketer.

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