Monday, December 8, 2008

Why Every Stay-Home Mom Needs to Be On Facebook

A few weeks ago I went to a bingo night at school, arranged by the PTA. PTA isn’t really my thing, but any form of gambling is, so I went. After bingo (I didn’t win once in 21 games—go figure why I love gambling) I went out for drinks with a group of moms.

When we were leaving the restaurant, somehow the conversation turned to Facebook. I had recently made Facebook converts of a few of them and they were raving about it.

Then one woman said “My husband says if I have time to waste on Facebook I need to get a job.”

Ok, so Facebook might be a time toilet and of debatable merit in many ways—what with the poking, smile invitations, Lil’ Green Patch requests and all the rest of it. But the larger truth is that Facebook is a social media tool, and being familiar with social media tools is far from a waste of time--especially for women who have given up or postponed their careers to be home with kids.

I'll spare you the rant about how hard it is for women to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to raise kids; suffice it to say that clawing your way back up the career ladder is a LOT harder than climbing down. Chances are, while you're home raising kids, the world and the workforce are marching on, leaving a thick layer of dust on your resume.

Think about it, though: what if there was a career you could actually build from scratch, for free and in your spare time at home? Guess what? There is one.

While the title varies, the occupation I'm talking about is social media or community manager (for our purposes I'll call it social media manager). I was prepared to write a whole treatise about how social media careers are on the rise, but found this great post that sums it up better than I could.

Want to be a social media manager? Here's what you do:

  • Start a blog. Not only will you familiarize yourself with blogging platforms, terminology and applications (widget, tags, comments, Digg, Technorati, etc, etc...) but you'll build a portfolio of writing samples.

  • Get on Facebook and Twitter and every other social network you can. Granted, you'll probably only be able to (or want to) keep up with a few, but it's a good way to familiarize yourself with social networks--what they are, which ones are useful for what and what all the crazy little icons mean.

  • Read. Read blogs, articles, books, magazines, newspapers--anything about social media. The beauty of social media as a career is that it's basically a brand new field; therefore the only things separating you from the "experts" are a few thousand blog posts. Everything you need to know about social media is out there; this is one area where grad school is not only not necessary but actually detrimental. The world of social media is evolving so rapidly that it requires constant, ongoing learning, not classwork. Think of it as a never ending learning experience--but in a good way.

  • Network. Social media offers the unique opportunity to actively network without ever having to have so much as one face-to-face conversation with anyone. Not that there's anything wrong with actual personal interaction, but when it's not an option because of time constraints, social networks can help you connect with people who will be able to help you get a job when the time comes.

I could have included much more detail--told you which blogs to read, which people to follow on Twitter, which social networks to familiarize yourself with, but figuring out the answers to these questions is part of your social media self-education so I'll leave the details to you.

So next time your husband accuses you of wasting time on Facebook, tell him that you're actually laying the foundation for your social media career and to leave you alone.

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