I’ll be honest. I initially registered for this class naively believing that it would be easy. After all, I’m from the digital generation. I post, tweet, pin, filter, vine, and snap effortlessly. Social Media? I’m good at that. Unfortunately, I failed to read, or accept, the fact that the course title ended with “For Managers.” I quickly realized that no, this would not be a class comparing who could Pin or Instagram the best. My misconception of the class purpose became painfully obvious to me as I struggled to complete my first blog post. I spent hours staring at a blank screen searching for words that would adequately describe social media. At that moment, I did not understand why I was having such difficulty with the task, but it is crystal clear to me now. Prior to this class, I defined social media in simplistic terms. To me, my Facebook profile was social media. I had yet to realize that social media is not just a forum to post pictures and write wallposts with friends, but it can be so much more. This class has enlightened me on the fact that social media is much more extensive than my narrow application of it.
Here are some of my favorite takeaways on the various applications of social media:
Social Media is your business
Because this class is in fact “Social Media for Managers,” perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is how businesses and employees should use social media to their advantage. I used to wonder why a grocery store would ever need a Twitter account, but I have found the answer in this class. When businesses use social networks, they create a channel of communication to their customers. At virtually no cost, businesses can hear both positive and negative feedback from their customers. By simply replying to one disgruntled customer, businesses can restore their image and keep this customer coming back. It is this type of communication that allows businesses to respond to feedback, and improve levels of customer satisfaction.
Businesses can also use social media to foster communication and collaboration among their employees. By granting employees the ability to text, tweet, IM, or share documents, information is spread as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most employees are already using these networks anyways, so why not use them for something productive?
Social Media is your career
For years, I have heard insistent nagging from my parents about my Facebook activity and its consequences in my job search. They argue that a picture of me holding a red solo cup could be the reason why I don’t get a job in the future. While I have heard their concerns and have made great efforts to keep my profile private, the truth is that content posted to the Internet will never truly be secure. Employers can find ways around these safeguards, and users must keep this in mind before posting anything. On the bright side, however, is that social network accounts can add color to a resume. My resume may display my G.P.A and previous work experience, but it doesn’t tell future employers who I really am. Posting (PG) pictures and updates about what I’m truly passionate about, like traveling, running, and cooking, will provide a voice to my resume. Twitter can also be used to enhance an online presence. While most of my peers are wasting their 140 characters complaining about #BCgirlproblems, this class has shown me the value in posting relevant and thoughtful tweets. Who knows, my online presence may set me apart from other candidates who aren’t using social networks to their advantage.
Social media is your news
People are turning to social networks to receive important information at a speed that television or newspapers cannot compare to. This is not news to me (pun intended)! Since I first activated my account, my Twitter has informed me of breaking news stories—minutes or even hours before the local news network can interrupt the following programming with ‘breaking news.’ This immediacy is crucial in preventing any (additional) harm or danger, as we all saw during the Boston Marathon bombing crisis.
Social media is your personal trainer and nutritionist
As a health nut, this is one of my favorite uses of social media. No longer is the potential to live a healthy live dependent on ones financial ability to afford expert advice. Now, exercise and nutrition plans are just a click away, and many are reaping the benefits as they find success in their weight loss journeys.
Social media is your inspiration
Social media has received a lot of attention for its role in bullying, but people should be more aware how online networks have created an atmosphere that promotes doing good. The Internet is updated with pictures, videos, and stories that inspire us all into positive action. It is no wonder why posts from Buzzfeed like “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity” get so many clicks. We see these acts of kindness, and strive to be better people. Want proof? Prepare for the water works.
Social Media is your comedian
Another positive, yet less serious, way social media can be used is for comedic purposes. When I’m feeling sad, social media is a promising source for a quick pick me up. Blogs, Meme’s, Vines, and YouTube channels are all dedicated for the sole purpose of making you laugh. Need a laugh yourself? Click here.
Social Media is… Yours
From our first blog posts and to this day, the class has not come up with a definition social media. Before taking this class, I defined social media in terms of my existing online networks, because that is how I was primarily utilizing it. I now describe social media in a much more complex nature that takes into account its functionality in a wide-range of ages, countries, industries, and hobbies. But, my definition of social media will never be the same as yours. The truth is that there is no universal definition that could fully define the extensive nature of social media. Users define it based on how they see it fit in their own lives. Whether it is corporate office with clearly defined objectives or a middle school girl sitting at her desktop computer updating her away message, social media is whatever you want from it. And the possibilities are endless.