typing-poolThis is a typing pool. In the mid-twentieth century, you would find groups of women like this in  companies large and small.

Good professional typists could churn out 60-80 words a minute, which may not sound like an accomplishment on a computer keyboard, but try to do that on a manual typewriter without the keys locking up. These women controlled company communication. If they didn’t type it, it didn’t get disseminated. Few executives could type.

Then along came word processors, and the women who embraced the new technology became even more important. They had job security. Well, at least until the arrival of the desktop computer.

While most senior executives never learned how to use computers, younger managers did. Instead of waiting around to get the information typed and disseminated, they simply typed it themselves. If you could type, you could get your ideas in front of more people. Assuming they were good ideas, you moved ahead.

Suddenly typing stopped being a job or a career and it became a skill that every entry-level employee needed to have. Eventually it worked its way up the corporate ladder and even senior executives type at least some of the own communications.

Social media is a lot like typing. As Facebook and Twitter burst on to the business scene, there was a feeling that this was something that you hired a specialist to do. Preferably someone young, who knew how to use that Facebook stuff was hired so business leaders could focus on the serious elements of business. But just like the advent of the personal computer, the role of  social media is changing. Today, social media is not a job function, but a mandatory skill every employee must have.

Forget the excuses:

You don’t have time to learn? Guess what, the director who was passed over for the job I got at Carrier thought he didn’t have time to learn to type either. While he was waiting  for a secretary to type his report, my proposal was on the desk of the general manager.

Social media is for young people. Seriously? Would you let a 17 year old manage your ad budget? Of course not, that is real money. Well, so the time spent on social media. If you want to know if the resource is being spent well you have to get in the game.  You have to know enough to direct the activities.

The change is coming. Up and down the corporate ladder people are embracing social media, some more often than others, but any good CEO knows social media is now a required part of their skill set, just like typing.