By Rachel Lim
The Discovery+ Series is a series of events, delivered through online digital solutions, which give students the chance to speak directly with working professionals, and learn about careers they aspire to enter. Given the developments in the COVID-19 situation, Advisory is keen to provide support to the many students who are experiencing woes in this time of disruptions, by digitalising professional mentorship.
The Discover+ Panel on Social Media, held on 3 November, was graced by Clara Koh (Moderator), Head of Policy, Singapore and ASEAN Facebook; Chandan Deep, Head of Emerging Business, Southeast Asia Twitter; Jamin Tan, Head of APAC Regional Product Policy, Trust & Safety Tiktok, Bytedance; Remko Glatzhofer, Team Lead, Global Accounts & Strategic Insights Analyst (APAC) LinkedIn; and Wouter Wiegmans, Solutions Engineer, Whatsapp Facebook. Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in social media, and how to best position themselves for such roles.
The set of technical/hard skills required is largely dependent on the role that you choose to apply for. For example, in a business development role, one should possess client-facing skills, be able to plan strategically for different markets at different stages of maturity and an operational mindset for sales, while in a policy role, one should have a broad set of policy exposure (such as policy research, advocacy and implementation). Many of these skills are mostly cultivated through a variety of professional experiences, rather than learnt in college.
In terms of soft skills, agility is crucial in the social media sector. In such a volatile industry, where platforms and regulations are fast evolving, one must be flexible, open-minded, and comfortable in an ever-changing environment.
Collaborative skills, such as communication and project management, are also important in the industry. With social media companies engaging in various markets across the world, one is expected to work with global headquarters and cross-functional partners. Thus, being able to build and work in cohesive teams are key to thrive in this industry.
Being bold and ambitious is important as well. To stand out in the company, you should have the ability to go above and beyond your job scope while displaying the resilience and willingness to keep going even when things do not go as planned.
Possessing such qualities serves well regardless of the role you play, and can be cultivated through experiences, internships, and even on the job.
The pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce significantly, with more consumers pivoting towards online shopping amidst various national safe distabcubg measures in place. This has also led to an interesting observation where consumers were no longer “loyal” to the key brands that they used to be before the pandemic. This is likely due to the lack of availability of certain products due to border restrictions, as well as the fact that consumers are introduced to a variety of different options as they shop online, which results in a trend of consumers interested in trying out new products of different brands. As such, it is imperative for companies to develop an online presence, be able to engage users and consumers via social media platforms, while retaining their brand loyalty.
Many social media companies do not strictly require you to take up a specific degree/major in order to apply for a technical role, and are open to hire anyone regardless of background. However, one must provide a strong resume and portfolio to showcase their experience and skills; getting a degree in a technical discipline can help you. While not always necessary, strong programming skills are extremely helpful and can help get your resume noticed.
A major concern would be the health of conversations taking place across social media platforms. As the abuse of platforms, spread of misinformation and discussion of extremely negative and sensitive topics are becoming more prevalent, social media companies must figure out how to reduce abuse and combat misinformation on their platforms. Unlike other sectors, the social media sector does not have an official regulator overlooking the industry. Thus, it is the responsibility of social media companies to provide a safe environment for users to share content and express themselves.
Additionally, social media companies would need to look into how they could encourage open transparency amongst each other as they work on tackling user reports and handling abusive content on their platforms. They would also need to work with governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academics and users to ensure healthy public conversations in the future.
Having a strong set of skills written down on a resume is one thing, but being able to relate these skills and experiences to the company and the role you are applying for is extremely crucial. Not only do strong candidates showcase an interest in their roles, but are also able to demonstrate a deep understanding on what their roles mean to the company, as well as how their expertise can support them in the role they are applying for.
Firstly, you should not be too fixated on the specifics of your role. Seize any good opportunities available, as such opportunities can give you a platform to make an impact and showcase your skills, which, if noticed by the right stakeholders, can land you a promotion.
Secondly, having a network is important. Do not be shy to reach out to someone if you would like to learn about a specific role. Join events organised by the companies you are interested in to get to know the people working there. A good network can help in getting your skills noticed by those working in the social media industry and can potentially land you a referral .
Finally, do not stop yourself from trying, and be open to learning and growing yourself as well. It is better to try and fail than to not try at all.
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