A Professor’s Reflection: The Value of Competition in The Social Media Magnet

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At the end of each semester in the final level of The Social Media Magnet, there is a satisfaction survey.  In this survey, we ask our students to comment on their experiences and provide both comments and criticisms about their experience.  We use this data in our efforts for continuous improvement with our courseware and practicum as much as possible, up to an extent that it doesn’t change fundamental core values that we hold in the design of our curriculum.  One of those values that we hold dear is competition.  For most of this generation of students, they have difficulty with this core value, especially as we make them compete for their grades in our class, while also helping their team members.  It’s a juxtaposition in their minds.  They can’t seem to grasp that they are competing with everyone in their class, but also trying to assist those class members that are in their respective groups. 

I address this with my students at the beginning of the semester, but by the end of the class, they still struggle with this concept.  It’s a criticism that I often see and try to address as much as possible at the end of the course.  For example, view an email exchange from one of my students this semester:

Student: I truly think that using the mean can be unfair sometimes. I think that the grade sometimes does not reflect the amount of work you put into the campaign.

Me: Just because you put in a lot of time, doesn’t guarantee success if your strategies are wrong.  The mean helps evaluate BOTH efficiency AND effectiveness. Just because you work long hours in your job doesn’t mean you are productive.  Often the two are highly correlated, but not always, especially if you don’t change failing strategies.

Student: Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I completely understand your method of grading the campaign. There were just some frustrating moments throughout the whole thing. I was actually talking about it with my mom this weekend and she commented, “…Well that’s the way the world works sweetie.” So yeah, I understand the method. It can be brutal sometimes, but it seems necessary. 

Me: I agree with your mom, it is the way that our world works.  Just keep that perspective when you go to work and realize that everything is a competition, not only against your firm’s competitors, but even within your firm regarding who will get promoted first among the new hires!  It doesn’t mean that you are unethical in that intrafirm competition, but that you realize that successful job duties are dictated by both the amount of time and how well you do the job, efficiency AND effectiveness.

I am sure there is a wealth of generational research that will help explain why this cohort of students has a hard time understanding the value of team cooperation propelling the whole group forward, while also realizing that there is competition that does occur even amongst team members.  At this crossroads is the value of an ethics class that helps walk the line between healthy and unhealthy competition at this level, but to try and ignore that the intrafirm competition shouldn’t exist because it’s not fair is a puzzling argument.  It is at this crossroads where we need to stress the importance of both efficiency and effectiveness.  It is a combination of both effort and sound strategy. 

Here, at The Social Media Magnet, we do our best to teach sound strategic principles while also giving them the tools and tactics to be efficient and timely in their process.  Yes, social media success is built on a tenet of content creation and that takes time.  But the content has to be of quality, effectively targeting the right groups of consumers in a timely fashion.  It takes BOTH to rise to the top of the class (pun intended), which is why we use a competitive grading model in our practicum evaluation.  Student’s don’t always like it, but hopefully, they learn to respect it, because successful competition is what our economy elevates to the top of brand awareness.

If you are a college professor and are just becoming familiar with what we do at The Social Media Magnet, check our professor overview with highlights of our features and benefits.  If you are interested in considering The Social Media Magnet for your university, we have a professor preview function that will allow you to see and work with some of the content.  If you are already in preview, which many of you are, and you are ready to commit to using our curriculum in your next semester’s class, then fill out our Commitment Form to get on-boarded and prepped for your next class.  Or if you just have some general questions, feel free to contact us.  We would love to assist you however possible.

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