The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Apr 24, 2012

A few months ago, I was asked to participate on a panel for UCLA’s Career Week. I jumped at the opportunity because I’ve found that whenever I speak with college students, I always learn something. This experience was no exception.

Last Thursday, I joined a panel with four others to discuss social media. Simple, right? But things got a little odd when the panel was introduced similarly to those who spoke earlier of careers in engineering, government, finance, politics, public security, international business, education, etc….

The problem is that social media is NOT a career.

Social Media a set of communication tools that carry content, whether that content comes in the forms of text, audio, video, GPS location, etc… These powerful tools give us the ability to share our opinions about life, passions, products and services. Social media provides vehicles for us to demonstrate our expertise and talents. It gives us a way to seek the opinions of others, no matter where they live.

Social media is not something that stands alone as a career. Instead, it’s an integral part of one’s career, whether we choose engineering, government, finance, politics, public security, international business, or education.

You can’t have a career in social media, however, you can use social media in your career. The keyword is “use.” Use social media to separate yourself from other candidates in the job market. Use social media to help your company, nonprofit, or club to communicate their value to their constituencies. Use social media to interact with customers, vendors, investors, and employees.

Choose a career. Enhance it with social media.

Filed under: Social Media


Social media isn’t a career no more than email isn’t a career… except that it is.  Email is a form of communication.  Some people and companies have mastered it. And they market and monetize their mastery (that’s a lot of Ms) as a business.  The same is true with social.  If your larger point is that understanding and weaving in ‘social’ into everyday tasks is more helpful and useful, sure.  But I think dismissing outright that social isn’t a career is (IMO) shortsighted.  This may be the desire, but it’s certainly not the reality.  Just head over to LinkedIn and run a search.

April 24, 2012

My initial thought was that, “right on! Social isn’t a career.” Part of that is a knee-jerk reaction against people putting too much stock in social media as the thing that’s going to save them. 

The problem with this assertion is, that’s like saying marketing or advertising can’t be a career. If someone spends their time as an ad buyer or content creator, you wouldn’t say they only “use” ads for their career. So, I think that working in social media can be a career, but it looks a lot different from what most people might think and it’s far more rare than they’d imagine.

More often than not, you’re right. Someone’s just USING social in their career. But, saying that doesn’t mean that a career in social isn’t possible.


Kevin Behringer
April 25, 2012

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Alan, I was actually trying to be longsighted…err…if that’s a word…But, I still luv ya!

Since I view social media as simply a communication technology like email, or smoke signals, or the telegraph, I have a hard time putting it into the “career” category. Communications technologies carry things. To me, one can build a career on creating great content and matching it with the right medium.

I do see what you are talking about from a vender perspective. If you are a technology manufacturer who builds communications tools for email, online video, blogging, etc…, sure, I can see a career in that. But, manufacturing hammers, word processors, or paint brushes doesn’t make one a carpenter, writer, or artist.

Kevin, I see marketing and advertising as careers because they do exactly what I mentioned to Alan: create content and determine the best medium by which to place that content.

I really resonated with your assertion that social media “…looks a lot different from what most people might think and it’s far more rare than they’d imagine.” That was probably the impetus of my post. And although I broke a cardinal sin by speaking in absolutes, I’ve seen too many examples of people who are majoring in minor things, such as focusing too much on the tools (social media) and not enough about how those tools can be used for business.

April 25, 2012

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