Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously.
-Confucius (Analects II, 3)
I have argued vociferously for formal education in Social Media professionalism for years, and will therefore avoid repetition here. Rather, I will relate what I have attempted in my own didactic efforts, as well as my future aspirations, in an essay of what might be considered when exercising erudition towards online communication expertise.
At the time of this writing, there are no formal education programs leading to an undergraduate degree in Social Media in the U.S. Therefore, these suggestions are at best academic (pardon the pun). However, with the current level of online community acceptance in today’s economic and business environments, it is reasonable to expect that at some juncture a university level scholastic program will be warranted. While the subject is being embraced and taught in various aspects, especially in the form of non-accredited agencies and widely dispersed classrooms of collegiate institutions, an explicit curriculum has yet to be described. Towards this end, what follows is a description of my own furtive attempts to achieve an edification and enlightenment leading to a Social Media career path.
Social Media is a wide ranging field; this is evidenced in these pages by the myriad disciplines examined in The Social Media Professionals Series (found elsewhere in this blog). It follows that indoctrination should be wide ranging, with guidance in multiple disciplines. Suggested courses in communication, Internet and Web technology, marketing and business administration, design and aesthetics, and social science, including cultural anthropology, would seem prudent to provide a well rounded development. Let us examine each in more detail.
Introductory courses in communication technology, basic journalism, as well as written (English) and spoken (Speech) articulation classes have obvious value. Most working professionals consistently agree that Social Media is based in communication. A firm understanding of this subject provides a solid foundation.
Internet and Web Technology
Marketing and Business Administration
Obviously, an understanding of business procedures, especially marketing theory, is crucial for enterprise employment of Social Media. The student should be well versed in these subjects, and subject matter should be geared towards the paradigm of online community channels.
Design and Aesthetics
The World Wide Web is a visual medium, and lends itself to appreciation as such. As designers of Social Media, professionals should be acquainted with an apprehension of the philosophy of art and the study of beauty. Having an understanding of artistic theory increases audience reach within the medium.
Social science underpins the entire formulization of Social Media. A grasp of human interaction and presentiment is necessary for effective comprehension of the targeted markets. Included study of cultural anthropology provides discernment of societal differences and uniqueness.
It should be apparent this listing is far from complete, but rather a framework from which to build. These are the parameters from which my own education has been and continues to be constructed. Perhaps in time academia will step forward to finalize and initiate a prescribed formula to take Social Media to the levels of professional character and spirit that is needed. Further comment on this issue is welcomed in the hopes that dialogue can be generated to initiate this highly warranted contention.