Tweet to Compete

I had never thought of social media as more than an expression of my personality. I simply post what I like. I retweet things I find funny, I share articles on my friend’s walls, and I try to take pretty pictures on my Instagram using my below-average camera phone. It was just something I did as a representation of who I am to my friends and family.

It wasn’t until I graduated earlier this month that I began to think of social media differently. My role as a Peer Educator in the Student Learning and Transitions department has allowed me to explore the depths of social media and what it can do for a business, a school, or an individual. Now that I have graduated I will still use these accounts as a means to keep in touch and up to date with my close friends and family. I’ve learned now that I can begin developing my entire career around social media.

This is something that simply blows my mind. If you had told grade 10 me that one of the most important aspects of my professional development and advancement in life would be to properly use facebook, twitter, and instagram I would’ve laughed right in your face. I laugh a lot, but this would have been uproarious laughter.

I consider myself “good” at social media, much in the same way that other people consider themselves good surfers or knitters or dodgeball players. It is something I do and is something I feel I do well. That’s what I thought at least. I am good at social media for the use I had for it: entertaining friends and expressing myself. What I’m still not good at is developing myself as a brand and marketing myself.

There is so much study emerging in the field of social media that has expanded my own understanding of what it can do for you. Already in my position as an Orientation Assistant, I’ve helped develop a strategy for our department’s social media accounts that focus on student engagement as opposed to simply broadcasting. We are working towards more involvement from students with our social media in order to better support them moving forward. I wanted to know more about tools, tips, tricks, hints, programs, strategies, and plans to use, so I delved into the topic of social media deeper.

From this further research I learned more about my own plans with social media. Namely, I had no real plan. I always wanted to extend my reach on twitter and instagram, but had no gameplan to do so. As an aspiring journalist, I recognized now that this research into social media could impact my entire career. Social media can define my career path.

I came across a lot of interesting articles and pointers for using social media, and especially twitter. Links to them can be found at the end of the post. The most interesting one to me was called the “Power of 100 Rule.” Simply put, use multiple social media channels to make 100 personal connections (not new connections) every day. That could be replying to emails, commenting on blog posts, tweeting at authors, retweeting content, or saying hi to someone in your office. While I thought 100 to be a little high, the message is still clear: be active and network for good things to come your way. I hadn’t thought of social media as a way to interact with new contacts, but it is once you commit to putting yourself out there.

Another article discussed “Power Users” on twitter. These are people who have used twitter to build their brand and their identity, and discusses the habits, tips, and strategies utilized by these people in order to build their brands stronger and their reach wider.

All this research has given me a new plan for my future career. If I can properly market myself, I can thrive in journalism. I can reach a wider audience, expand my writing opportunities, and engage in meaningful discussion all on something that I would’ve been in trouble for using during class in high school. Social media doesn’t have to be the black hole of productivity that a lot of people view it as. It can completely change your career path and afford you opportunities like you never imagined.

Links:

The Power of 100 for Blogging Success: http://www.dangeroustactics.com/power-of-for-blogging-success/

100 Ways to Become a Twitter Power User: http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/01/30/100-ways-to-become-a-twitter-power-user/

How to Find the Best Places to Guest Blog: http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/05/05/how-to-find-the-best-places-to-guest-blog/