should you need an MBA to do social media?

The hiring practices for social media roles is a topic Scott Monty discussed with us on AdVerve once, and now that I see more people hiring for it, there seems to be two schools of thought depending on who you ask. Brands seem to say yes while agencies seem to say no.

I understand the brand argument because you’re *generally* dealing with more business-oriented methodology on a daily basis. Complicating things is that the role is also something either brought in-house or sourced out to a partner agency specializing in social. The counter argument is that regardless of which scenario we’re talking about, the other aspects of a brand’s marketing and advertising efforts don’t require one (on the agency side), so why would social?

(Granted, the question is framed broadly, and at the risk of turning this into a “Who owns social?” discussion, social needs to be looked at like a tool, yes, but one from the creative toolbox like PR, advertising, etc. Brands making it an in-house role risk treating it like another line item on an Excel sheet while missing the creative possibilities inherent in the space.)

As for the agency perspective, just because they don’t tend to require a degree, they seem to compensate by requiring a candidate have extensive experience in the development of social media communities, while displaying an almost unhealthy fixation on the dreaded social media case study.

I come out here: The person needs a good sense of brands across multiple industries, knowing how to play in the space, and an ability to interact with consumers in a more natural way. Can you tell that just by seeing a degree or case study? I don’t think you can.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the question. What do you think?


Åsk Dabitch said...

Could there be a simple test, one that reads something like this;

are you a prick?
[ ] yes
[ ] no

There are people with MBA's that are sharp as razors, and there are people without MBAs who are equally clever - then there are idiots in both groups.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Great topic. I don't think an MBA should be required (that's a huge expense most can't afford), but perhaps some kind of certificate from an accredited place. Social media is too new right now to place these kinds of restrictions on candidates but not everyone who has a twitter account knows how to handle it either. It's a delicate balance.

Christina Martin said...

Depends - if the social role encompasses developing the strategy, then yes, include the MBA requirement. If the role is more execution, then skip it!

Darren Negraeff said...

The title of this kind of shocked me. I have an MBA, which I guess qualifies you for some things more than others, but social media is (to my mind at least) not one of them. In general, the theories and case studies you come across during an MBA won't make you a better social media manager, no more than studying strategy will make you a great CEO (doing always trumps thinking about doing). Moreover, very few MBA programs have an extensive social media module or classes.

Like most academic degrees, the MBA stands as an economic signal that the candidate is committed to a certain career path, no more, no less.

And in the case of social media, certainly personality should play a bigger role than academic experience, again, aside from perhaps shrinking the field of candidates to something manageable.

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