Social media and the increasing importance of virtual networks in business
Long gone are the days of social media being just a fun new way to chat with friends and family. The medium is a behemoth of an industry in its own right, evolving off the back of networks like SixDegrees (1997-2000), MySpace (2005-2009), and, of course, Facebook.
Businesses in every industry have had to learn—and keep up with—how people are connecting and the platforms they’re using to do so. If you’re a business student, this changing landscape is laden with opportunity. A whole new career path can quickly unfold as the goal posts continue to shift. And with ever-growing user numbers, it’s never been more important for businesses to get social.
Growing user numbers and growing business opportunities
Hult masters alumna Samaneh Zamani moved from San Francisco to London to kick-start her career and pursue her dream of working in advertising.
Today, she’s the Social Community Manager at London-based agency FCB Inferno. As part of her role, Samaneh manages BMW UK’s social channels, working to develop content strategies across platforms and ensuring the brand is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to social content for the automotive industry. She certainly understands why a solid social strategy is crucial.
“Social media offers businesses a wealth of opportunities to speak to new and existing audiences,” Samaneh explains. “Currently, of the 7.5 billion people on the planet, almost 3.2 billion are actively using social media. That’s 42% of the world’s population—and it’s still growing.”
Indeed, there was a 13% increase in social media users from 2017 to 2018 alone. On average, people are spending two to three hours on social media per day, which averages out to one in every three minutes.
Massive TV and print budgets could soon be a thing of the past
Today, people are spending more time on social than they are watching TV. And users aren’t just taking to social channels for networking, entertainment, and to stay up-to-date on news—they are also using social to research products and services.
“How many times have you looked up a restaurant on Instagram, only to find it doesn’t have a page, and immediately removed it from your consideration?” Samaneh asks. “Social media is the modern day Yellow Pages.”
“Social media is the modern day Yellow Pages.”
Samaneh Zamani, Class of 2017 alumna and Social Community Manager at FCB Inferno
Businesses can be much more reactive, relevant, and timely using social media. And the medium means they can relate on a personal level to consumers. In a time when phone screens have become vice-like, “what happens on the screen is a personal experience,” as Samaneh notes.
“With the level of targeting now available on social media, businesses have the opportunity to speak to specific audiences, as well as trial new messaging, branding, creative, and promotions, in a controlled manner, rather than committing to massive budgets on TV and in print.”
Harnessing the power, potential, and flexibility of innovation
Natasha Woolsey, a London-based digital strategist, has seen first-hand how the landscape is changing and the opportunities offered by the latest tech innovations.
“It’s predicted that users will grow by over a million each year over the next five years, so unsurprisingly more and more businesses are now turning to social media to target their audience,” says Natasha.
“Reaching these vast numbers has instantly paved the way for some significant changes, like the new Instagram TV for example. And, no doubt, AR and VR will become fundamental to social in due course.”
From a personal perspective, Natasha has made social work for her, complementing an extensive background in PR and marketing with extra training from Digital Mums to future-proof her skills. The flexible nature of online networks means the industry works for her as well as her working for it. Professionals in the social media industry can make the most of this flexibility when it comes to creating a career path that offers a good work/life balance.
As a digital professional, often there is room to fit your work around you—it’s not called “social” media without reason. And while scandals like Cambridge Analytica are inexcusable, opportunity can also rise out of their ashes. Changes in data regulations—like GDPR—also give way to opportunity. For example, there’s been a surge in need for legal professionals in the industry. Just a few years ago, these sorts of roles wouldn’t have even existed.
Future-proof your skills
Whether you’re looking to complement your existing skills or forge a new career path, a Hult degree can put you at the leading edge of today’s digital marketing trends. And, like social media, the curriculum flexes each year to remain relevant and aligned with what you need to learn to be job-market ready.
Download a brochure to find out more about a business degree from Hult.