Social Media and the Workplace

There’s an interesting article called From the Web to the Workplace in the current issue of the Boston Phoenix about the importance of social media skills in today’s job market. It highlights some of the adult education classes being offered in the Boston area to help people learn how to use blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to help them in their job search, and to develop skills using social media in the workplace.

According to the article:

“Online social media — Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging, blogging, even the ubiquitous Twitter — have moved to the forefront of how we communicate, and how businesses build their brands and sell their products. What was once a means to update your buddies on the delicious sandwich you just ate, or a way to piss away an entire evening live-blogging reality TV, is now a valuable workplace skill coveted by hiring employers.”

Last weekend I participated in PodCamp Boston 4, a new media unconference about all forms of social media, not just podcasting. I participated last year as well, and noticed that this year there was less emphasis on the personal use of social media for sharing and personal fulfillment, and more on the ways companies and nonprofits use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Many people there work for businesses or nonprofits or are social media consultants, and even the independent blogger and podcasters are looking for ways to make money from their activities. Many of the discussions were focused on monetization, brand management, strategy and return on investment.

I was there in my personal role, not as a librarian, and I had signed up to lead a discussion on using photography to build community. The session went well, but people were really most interested in two things: how to find and use free photographs to use on their blogs and websites, and how to protect their photographs from being used as free content by other people. If I do a session next year, it will be called something like “Mi photograph es su photograph? Copyright and Control in the Age of Flickr.” (I’d probably use a less gimmicky title, but you get the idea.)

The Boston Phoenix article and Podcamp made me wonder how libraries are supporting students and members of our communities in getting those social media skills through classes or other means. Is anyone doing a smaller, more local version of Podcamp to bring interested individuals, businesses and organizations together to learn from each other and discuss their social media activities?

From the Web to the Workplace: “Polish your tweets and blogs with a course in online social networking ”
Ashley Rigazi, Boston Phoenix, August 14, 2009

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