Advice for success in social media from panel of Tallahassee experts

Strong writing and creative skills are what social media professionals need most from students who are seeking careers in their field. That’s what a group of Tallahassee business leaders said when brought together by the College of Communication & Information (CCI) for “Teaching Social Media: A Panel Discussion,” on August 23 at the Louis Shores Building.

Tallahassee experts in social media were brought together in a panel by the College of Communication & Information.

The panel of local experts was invited by Assistant Dean Ebe Randeree, who teaches social media at the college, in order to provide feedback about their needs as employers to assist faculty in setting their emphasis in courses and to recommend areas of study on which students should focus their learning efforts.

“We need people who will stop selling and start storytelling,” Heidi Otway, vice president and director of public relations and social media at SalterMitchell, said. CEO Samantha Strickland of The Pod Advertising said that creativity and the ability to tell great stories are essential. Matt Roush, digital and social media specialist at FSU, also placed emphasis on learning write, edit, and create engaging content. Public Relations Director Michelle Grant of 180 Communications advised students to focus on “writing, blogging, and press releases.”

Subtleties, such as understanding the tone of voice in postings and the differences between business and personal writing are also necessary, according to Kelly Robertson, a principal at BowStern Marketing Communications.

Matt Thompson, director of digital strategy at The Zimmerman Agency and Ryan Cohn, vice president of social/digital at Ron Sachs Communication, put emphasis on the use of social media as one part of a larger marketing effort. Sean Doughtie, president and CEO of Taproot Creative, and Nadia Kamal, principal at Onyx Creative Group, discussed the value of taking classes in other disciplines in addition to communication and technology, such as business, creative writing, and statistics.

Additional areas of importance for social media experts include good listening and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with clients; a combination of technology, strategic and creative skills; analytical and research skills and the ability to recognize good information;  an understanding of integrated marketing and media planning; rhetoric, theory and social communication; and applied behavior analysis.

An undergraduate course in social media is part of a new bachelor’s program in Information, Communication and Technology at the College of Communication & Information. The program combines the teaching of information technology skills with that of traditional public relations, advertising, and mass media skills.

The College offers 2 courses in Social Media, one online graduate and another face-to-face undergraduate.  The courses were co-created by Dr. Lorri Mon and Dean Randeree.  Dr. Mon is the primary source of the content used to teach both classes.  According to Dr. Mon, “The new graduate-level social media course is a key component of our Masters programs here at the School of Library & Information Studies.”  Dr. Mon is working to develop a series of courses in Social media that will become a core component of the new Master’s in IT degree.