There is concern that technical students are not keeping pace with social media trends in the workplace. Since 2010 social media has been growing as an important marketing tool for business success. The NSF STEP project is building awareness among CC faculty on this issue and resources available to fill the gap. Contact Joe Ippolito at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about STEP webinars and other training opportunities.
For the past four years we have seen businesses moving forward rapidly in the use of social media to gain new customers, generate revenue, keep employees connected, respond to customers, and solve problems. Companies want to be sure they are getting the most out of open social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, along with closed sites like Yammer and password-protected Wikis and other sites.
Social media has been growing as an important marketing tool of many successful businesses. For example, in 2010 the “FedEx Office Signs of the Times Small Business Survey” polled 500 small-business owners across the country. In responses to the question about how they plan to grow their businesses in 2010, social media were one of the few methods that increased when compared to the same survey questions in 2009. The study reported that 36 percent of small-business respondents listed social media in their plans for business growth in 2010, compared to 24 percent in 2009 (Smallbusinessm.com, 2010).
About the same time, this finding was further supported by a study by the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business that looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses. The study found that Facebook and LinkedIn had become the predominant platforms for small-business owners while it is expected more small businesses would be using Twitter as a customer service channel in the year ahead. (Mashable.com, 2010).
With this growth in open social media use comes concern about the educational preparation of technicians leaving school. Technicians are commonly the customer face of a business, dealing directly with a client. They must be able to problem solve, troubleshoot, and, also, exhibit a high level of social skills, especially when dealing with an upset customer. Many are using social media tools daily to perform a broad range of business tasks including maintaining and tracking data, organizing content, and communicating and solving problems in real time with peers from around the world.
The NSF STEP project will host a series of webinars in 2014-15 to build awareness of this issue, provide an overview of STEP lessons and resources, and training on implementing social media lessons in your program.