Can You Be Taught Social Media?

By Mark Evans - Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 7:37 am  

I met someone yesterday who mentioned that a friend was a professor who taught social media at a local college.
My initial reaction was “That’s interesting”. My next thought was whether social media is something that can be taught.

My take is social media is while you can take a course to learn how social media works, the only way to understand the mechanics, nuances and real-world best practices is just doing it. It is lot like when I went to journalism school; I learned more during the first three months of my first newspaper job than I did in four years at university.

Taking a social media course at a college or university is not a bad thing because it does provide insight into the different tools, best practices, and case studies of social media done well or badly. Someone who takes a social media course will receive a solid theoretical foundation and knowledge of the landscape.

However, it’s completely different world when you’re actually doing social media as part of your job. The pace, the demands, the need to respond quickly and having to create content on a steady basis makes the realities of social media dramatically differently from the lessons in class.

My advice to people who have expressed an interested in a social media course has been to just start doing social media in the real world. To me, there is nothing more valuable than getting into it to learn first-hand what works, what doesn’t, and the strengths and differences of the different tools.

Sure, you could make some mistakes along the way but that’s part of real-world learning as opposed to being in a classroom. If you’re interested in taking a social media course or class, go ahead. But the real classroom is the real world.

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