advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do you really need an MBA for social media?

(This is a post I did on Brandflakes. Due to the recent flood of social media positions I’ve seen looking for MBAs, I thought it was worth a repost.)

The hiring practices for social media roles is a topic Scott Monty discussed on AdVerve with us once, and now that I see more people hiring for it, there seems to be two schools of thought depending on who you ask. Brands seem to say yes while agencies seem to say no.

I understand the brand argument because you’re *generally* dealing with more business-oriented methodology on a daily basis. Complicating things is that the role is also something either brought in-house or sourced out to a partner agency specializing in social. The counter argument is that regardless of which scenario we’re talking about, the other aspects of a brand’s marketing and advertising efforts don’t require one (on the agency side), so why would social?

Granted, the question is framed broadly, and at the risk of turning this into a “Who owns social?” discussion, social needs to be looked at like a tool, yes, but one from the creative toolbox like PR, advertising, etc. Brands making it an in-house role risk treating it like another line item on an Excel sheet while missing the creative possibilities inherent in the space.

(As an aside, the *special cousin* here to the MBA required problem are those brands who pile on their other needs, viewing social as a title encompassing every digital/interactive need found in the company. Now, there’s nothing wrong with paid and organic search, CRM, digital media planning or experience with building an ecommerce business; they’re all integral. They’re also specialized roles that deserve the same respect and attention that social does. Lumping them together and expecting one person to not only be an expert at all of it and run it? Let me know when you find them.)

For their part, while agencies hiring for the role by and large don’t seem to ask for the degree, they tend to compensate by requiring a candidate have extensive experience in things like the development of social media communities, or the agency displays an unhealthy fixation on the social media *case study* that is just too easy for candidates to game scenarios for.

I come out here: Any candidate needs a good sense of brands across multiple industries, knowing how to play in the space, and an ability to interact with consumers in a more natural way. Can you tell that just by seeing a degree or case study? I don’t think you can.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the question. What do you think?


Howie said...

Professor Green that was a great post. I missed it on Brandflakes. Don't all the Social Media jobs go to the interns?

I actually find big companies have over inflated views of degrees vs real experience. Why? Because the VP's all have MBAs and PHds and the collective but wrong view is that they need people to eventually replace them...and they had better have had to go through the same schooling. Kind of like being hazed in a Frat.

Jason Murphy said...

What a shame, but all of the non MBA talent will be busy starting an agency that the MBA hires.