So what is social media?
If you had asked me that same question about 11 weeks ago, I probably would have told you that it was a place and platform for posting status updates, filtering pictures, sending embarrassing Snapchats, and sharing funny cat videos. (Seriously, have you seen the Cats vs. Cucumbers video yet? So. Great.)
In all seriousness though, I saw social media mainly as a distraction. A glorious, necessary and satisfying distraction, but a distraction nonetheless. As stated in my previous blog post, “Is Social Media Silencing Us,” I’ll be the first to admit that I use social media daily. It’s the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I look at before going to bed. I hate to say that it is an addiction, but I do invest a lot of time into staying updated with what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family, as well as what’s happening in the media. My thought process before taking this Technology and Public Relations class was that social media was just a fun way to stay in contact and connect with people online for entertainment.
Fast forward a few weeks through this semester, and I can definitely say that I have a different perspective on the use of social media.
Before taking “Technology and Public Relations” (CAP105), I had a completely different mindset because social media has gained such a negative stigma in our society. I think I just subconsciously absorbed that negative view and thought of social media as something our generation uses strictly for entertainment without ever fully realizing the benefits it has in the business and marketing realms.
Crazy to think, right? Social media can actually be beneficial.
According to Kurt Wagner, “Roughly 81% of SMBs [small and medium-sized businesses] are using social media, and of those that use social, 94% do so for marketing purposes” (Wagner 2014). Those statistics would have surprised me before, but my frame has shifted to see social networking sites as a great tool for branding, analyzing, and establishing a presence online. Businesses are taking advantage of social media in many ways and use it as a means to promote products, gain exposure, and ultimately increase sales. Social media is a great way to build a trust between brands and customers and it also allows for instant feedback. (Who doesn’t like a retweet from Taco Bell or a reply from Jimmy John’s?) This engaging kind of social media marketing can really help to build credibility and brand loyalty.
Another one of the key things I have learned this semester about social media is how important it is to brand yourself professionally online for future jobs. When done correctly, social media platforms can open you up to an entirely new world. Networking allows for a plethora of new knowledge, job offers, and relationships to form as you come into contact with people you otherwise may not have ever met. Chuck Cohn writes, “In our increasingly connected society, building a social media presence is as commonplace as getting a driver’s license” (Cohn 2015). And I completely agree with that.
Social media is almost inescapable.
Nowadays you are deemed weird or looked down upon if you don’t have a Facebook or some sort of social profile. It’s almost as if you don’t exist if you don’t exist online.
My whole life I have been told that a negative presence online can affect if I get a job in the future, but this semester I saw how having a professional presence online can actually aid in the job process. Heidi Cohen writes about the key differences in personal and professional social media. She says that “professional social media is your multi-media résumé complete with endorsements. It provides you with a platform for building your thought leadership and rolodex.” She goes on to compare personal social media as “a way to engage with family and friends, regardless of their current location. It keeps you connected with people you may have lost contact with otherwise” (Cohen 2015). As long as the two lives are kept separate on social media, you can use each to achieve specific goals. You have the whole world at your disposal, but it is how you present yourself through social media that determines how you will be perceived.
I also had no idea what role analytics played in the social media world or that businesses were able to track and promote products specifically tailored to individuals. Alexa Fox wrote in an online article, “Tracking your social media analytics is essential because it helps you figure out what is or isn’t working, enables you to track your progress throughout a given time, and ultimately saves time – a precious commodity in the marketing world” (Fox 2013). By learning the basics of how analytics function, I now see how businesses are able to enhance their presence on social media to have the most success.
I have always been a huge fan of social media, but over the course of this semester, my eyes have been opened to the many different ways that social media can be used to reach people on a more professional level.
Social media is here and it is the future. I plan on taking full advantage of the new knowledge I have received this semester as I continue on my journey through the Ad and PR world.
Cohen, Heidi. (2015, May). Social Media: Professional VS Personal. Retrieved from http://heidicohen.com/social-media-professional-vs-personal/
Cohn, Chuck. (2015, January). How to Properly Use Social Media to Fit Your Business Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckcohn/2015/01/23/how-to-properly-use-social-media-to-fit-your-business-strategy/
Fox, Alexa. (2013, April). Why Tracking Your Social Media Analytics is Important. Retrieved from http://www.seguetech.com/blog/2013/04/26/why-tracking-social-media-analytics-important
Wagner, Kurt. (2014, February). LinkedIn: 81% of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Use Social Media. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/02/13/linkedin-social-media-study/#8CIkllSsUsqJ
Featured Image Credit: Bethany Garcia