This semester we were assigned to do a Personal Learning Project. Since I am very interested in all kinds of Social Media and I’m minoring in Journalism/PR and hope to do some sort of incorporating both into whatever I end up getting a job in in the future, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more on it.
The past two summers I worked for Z-Medica Corporation, a company that makes medical products, which can be found at www.z-medica.com, and last summer I officially interned there. When I was there for my internship I was mainly in charge of gathering testimonials from those who have used their products, from doctors, to military, to the average consumer. However, one of my secondary objectives both summers was to help maintain the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, by gathering new followers and reaching out to other possible customers.
I am a part of many social media networks, from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Dailybooth, Instagram, Path, Formspring, Flickr, HeyTell, and YouTube. Aside from my Angry Birds and Games categories on my iPhone, I have a whole category page set up just for my social networking apps (which is pictured to the left).
Social Media is something I do best, and it’s something I love doing. Whenever I have my Firefox browser open, Facebook and Tumblr are always the first two tabs that you will find in the top of my screen. So when it came time to choose something to learn more about for our Personal Learning Project, I knew that it was going to be more on Social Media and how it has effected the very career choice I want to go in to after college. I want to use what I love for what I love to do. I love writing, especially on social media sites. To do so, I had to create a Personal Learning Network, which consisted of people I followed on Twitter, blogs I followed and Social Bookmarks I followed as well. Amongst the Twitter users I followers were Jon Gordon, who is the Social media/mobile news editor MPRnews, which I followed as well to see it from an organizations standpoint. Jason DeRusha, who is the WCCO-TV Good Question reporter/weekend anchor. Sarah Evans, a PR. Social Media Correspondent, and runs http://sevansstrategy.com. I also chose to follow The New York Times twitter account, to see how a major news organization uses Twitter.
As for blogs I followed, I found Sorav Jain, who runs the Social Media and Digital Marketing Blog. I also found the Top Rank Marketing Blog, which “provides expert internet marketing services trusted by Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe. Integrating Social Media, SEO, Content Marketing and Email Marketing helps our clients achieve world-class results.” Kissmetrics was a great find for me as each post as it spoke on many different sub-sects of the Internet and how to better use them for your advantage, personally and professionally.
The more I looked into this project, the more I found out that I wasn’t just learning about Journalism, I was also learning about how Social Media has effected companies and organizations, and how it can benefit them. Social Media continues to grow and have a large effect on nearly everyone and every company. From apps such as FourSquare, which allows users to “check in” to locations and get benefits and coupons for checking in a certain amount of times, to new apps like Instagram which could allow companies to connect with their customers with pictures, mobile apps have become a new and huge part to this. Social Media goes much much farther, especially for journalists and large organizations.
Elizabeth Blancas says in her article Online journalism symposium attracts social media experts, “the social media revolution has completely and forever changed the way news is distributed.” News organizations are now hiring social-media specific editors. “With an app for nearly everything, The Times has made sure its presence on Twitter and Facebook is ever present. The paper appointed Jennifer Preston as its first-ever social media editor two years ago. Although The Times was present on Twitter and Facebook prior to her appointment, she enhanced readers’ experience via social networking sites”, says Blancas. Newspapers are getting more and more digital than they are in print, and with that being the case, new jobs are opening up, such as the one that Preston was hired for.
However, this now brings up the argument on citizen journalism. Planet Forward is a web site and pilot program for PBS which experiments in citizen media and public engagement, pioneering the idea of user-generated television. Scott Bittle explains in his article that “the goal was to create public engagement and citizen journalism that would place average citizens on the same footing as prominent experts and political leaders.”
“Instead of using interactive media as an adjunct to the television program, the Planet Forward discussion starts online. Participants create their own videos on the project topic – America’s energy future. Site visitors were able to shape the show by submitting content, and by rating other submissions,” says Bittle on the project. This form of social media has allowed users to fully engage their capabilities of reporting on their own, without the need waiting for the 6 oclock news or the paper the next day. However, this also brings in the question and debate as to how efficient citizen journalists really are and how effective and reliable they can be.
Sorav made a post on 30 Things to Tweet About Your Brand. In it, he mentioned things such as:
- New announcements from your brand.
- Witty one-liners: this can be jokes, daily wisdom, or just about anything else.
- Unexpected developments: Was Gmail down today? Tweet about it!
- Ask for customer feedback: Invite people to share their experiences with your brand.
- Give daily twitter tips on usage of your brand’s products/service or on the basis of the industry expertise. Tips sell well on Twitter.
The 25 other tips he gave are all very useful, and very interesting to see just how useful they can be for journalists and brands to be doing on such a simple platform as Twitter. Twitter is one of the biggest and most influential and outreaching forms of Social Media, and if you are a company or journalist who can reach to your followers, then do it to the best of your abilities. People can say a lot in just 140 characters, and when it’s as easy as adding in a “Cont…” or “Part 1” to your tweets to expand your message, use it to the fullness of your capabilities.
I found this particularly evident when I followed Jon Gordon and looked at his tweets. As you can see in just this small screencap I have to the left of his most recent tweets, Gordon posts personal tweets as well as professional ones. What really struck me was how often he talks to his followers, which can be seen to the right. Gordon doesn’t just send one tweet back to those who tweet at him, but creates a conversation using this network of just 140 characters. What is particularly noticeable here is that even though Gordon is a professional writer for a large organization, he doesn’t let that get to his head and uses it to reach out to others. Gordon tweets about his personal life and thoughts, and many of them are sarcastic witty jokes, which help remind readers that he is a normal person, just like they are.
Social Media allows journalists, magazines, newspapers, organizations, and companies more ways to connect to their customers than ads on television and the radio. Something very important that I also kept seeing was that journalism companies and organizations were able to post new news events and articles whenever they wanted, as fast as they wanted, how they wanted, and to their own capabilities. They don’t have to wait till the next day to get their articles out, they don’t have to wait till the 6 or 11 o’clock news to tell people about their events. It’s one of the most important things I have noticed. There is no more waiting, there is no more patience needed to hear new stories. In a world where deadlines are so important, they can be met in a much more timely manner. Journalists can do a lot more than they could do a few years ago when MySpace was the only form of social media for middle and high schoolers.
They are now able to communicate with their customers. I have had mini discussions with companies like Chipotle and Hulu, and celebrities like Zachary Levi and writers, and helped customers of Z-Medica via Facebook and Twitter posts. By simply mentioning company accounts on Twitter and Facebook, you can have discussions with the businesses who you value and journalists as well. Social Media is adding countless possibilities for companies and journalists to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Customers value their opinions, and when they see that their opinions are being heard from and responded, they feel more connected to and, at least for me, become more attached to those companies and reporters.
A great quote to finish my project and post off is from Chris O’Connell in which he says, “social networking has changed the way we do business and how we are able to get news and sources faster when deadlines matter.” Social Media and Networking is constantly changing, there are always more and more apps coming out for mobile devices, and journalists and companies keep adapting to the way that the world is working. I chose to do my deliverable for this project as a blog post because not only is it on WordPress, which is a form of Social Media, but this very post is a form of Journalism, and I’m using what I learned to do what I want to do in the future. I personally can’t wait to see what the next few years hold for journalists, companies, and social media around the world, and I can’t wait to be a part of it and hopefully put my own mark in the world via what I do.