Getting Savvy About Social Media

Students explore the responsibilities and risks involved in creating and maintaining an online presence.
Getting Savvy About Social Media

Social media use has become an inextricable part of life, learning, and business. In response, business schools are helping everyone from undergraduates to executives understand how to exploit the advantages and avoid the pitfalls of social media networks.

Adelphi University’s Willumstad School of Business in Garden City, New York, added the course “Social Media” to its catalog in spring 2013. Taught by adjunct professor Mark Fogel, whose background is in human resources, the course trains students to take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other outlets, no matter what positions these students eventually hold in an organization.

Fogel asks students to form teams to create written, video, and audio content for blogs. They work with RSS and Twitter feeds, analyze data regarding page views and usage, and hear from guest speakers who discuss the use of social media for advertising and marketing. They also explore the responsibilities and risks involved in creating and maintaining an online presence.

Last fall, McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business in Ontario, Canada, delivered a new employer-led workshop to students on social media. RBC Royal Bank Canada is offering the workshop at a number of business schools, including DeGroote. The session covers how to find information via social media networks, how to protect privacy, and what the long-term consequences can be of a single inappropriate post or picture.

The company thought that a workshop on social media use would have a greater impact on students’ future job searches than a workshop on more traditional topics such as interviewing or writing résumés and cover letters, says Julia Thomson, manager of marketing and communications at DeGroote.

“RBC wants to build relationships with students well before graduation, and engaging with them on social media helps them to do that,” she says. And by learning how to build their networks, track developments in their preferred industries, and connect with employers, Thomson adds, students can gain an advantage in their job searches.

In an interesting reversal, last October, 15 junior, senior, and MBA students at the University of Miami School of Business Administration in Florida began acting as social media mentors to 15 senior executives at the financial firm Citi. Citi designed the “reverse mentoring” program to help its executives become more savvy in the use of social media and digital technologies. With the students’ assistance, the execs will design social media strategies that support mobile payment options and build relationships with customers and employees.

The executives will work with the students via face-to-face and virtual meetings until the end of March. At the same time, the executives will offer students training in presentation, networking, innovation, and design thinking.

Alvaro Marquez, head of human resources for Citi Latin America, says that by working with student mentors, the firm’s executives will be able to “fine tune our digital strategy for the next ten to 15 years.”