Schools struggle to put social media in business curriculum

Marketing experts and professors believe universities aren't working fast enough to include social media in their business curriculum.

Using Facebook and Twitter is one thing but being an expert in it is another, said one University of Windsor marketing professor.

Vincent Georgie said businesses are hungry for social media marketing graduates. However, schools are struggling to work it into their curriculum.

"It's definitely being worked in, it's just not being worked in fast enough," he said. "By and large, it's something that changes quickly. By the time you get a curriculum up, it's already passé."

At its Odette Leadership Symposium later this month, the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor will offer a session entitled "Social Media: Implications of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn."

The university also offers a new media studies course, which devotes some time to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. A computer science course entitled social media and mobile technology for end users is also offered.

Katie Stokes, co-founder of Blab! Media in Windsor, Ont., can relate to the lack of educational options when it comes to social media.

"When I graduated, there were no courses on social media," she said.

She and Jessica Apolloni started their company in 2010.

Every morning, they scour the internet for new and changing social media platforms they can provide to small- and medium-sized business clientele that are looking to use social media to market product and services.

Stokes said when she first started, there wasn't much appetite for social media in business.

"They almost saw it as a fad, so they figured if they waited for long enough, it wouldn't be important anymore," Stokes said. "Fast-forward, now we're getting those same people coming back to us in panic mode saying we know this is important and we have to get into this."

Since then the company and the business world's acceptance of social media has grown. Social media is slowly becoming the vehicle of choice.

Ford Motor Co. plans to hire 2,200 salaried workers in the U.S. this year, the largest increase in new salaried workers in more than a decade.

Of those new hires, approximately a third will be in product development, manufacturing and information technology.

To get the tech-savvy men and women they are looking for, Ford is focusing on using social media to make the hires.

"Interested candidates are encouraged to follow Ford recruitment on key networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook," a media release read in part. "Individuals who “like” the Ford Careers Facebook page and follow Ford Careers on Twitter will receive regular updates about new career opportunities at Ford Motor Company."

Ford's Scott Monty said the company is simply changing with the times.

"Word of mouth is so important," he said. "When you look around at how people are getting info these day, they’re getting it digitally. Digital word of mouth is a turbo-charged version of that."

Monty said it's not just the company's white-collar workforce that's wired in.

"Digital and social [media] touch everyone. Your factory workers have smart phones and are using social media as much as the rest of us are," he said.

So are the company's customers.

"We’ve been very successful using social media as far as communications and marketing goes. We’re using it more now for customer service as our customers actually flag us [about issues] on social media sites," Monty said. "Now, we're expecting to roll social [media] out to more areas of the company, like product development.

"What a great way to have a 24/7 focus group,to be able to interact with people who are giving you feedback on the products that you're putting out there."

Stokes applauds Ford's move.

"I think it’s important that larger companies like Ford set the bar high like that," she said. "It’s something all businesses should look for in employees."

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