Social Media Matters

September 23, 2009 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Last night at the Society for Technical Communication (STC) meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., my table struck up a conversation about social media.
A few older members, trying to get their feet wet in the digital world, asked why there are different channels for social media: what is each one’s purpose?
I briefly pondered this and then piped up. I proposed the idea that they all serve different purposes depending how you use them.

facebook: An informal social environment originally only for college kids, facebook has been expanded to include all audiences. Now you can even be facebook friends with your mom. This medium is best to use with friends, family, and people who know you on a personal level. Since most users post pictures, comments, etc., they should be aware about their “viewers.” Privacy settings allow you to control who sees your profile, and has even allowed you to make only part of your profile available to certain people. However, there are often times ways around the privacy settings, especially if you both are facebook friends with the same people. Everyone you become facebook friends with can see some or all of the content you post on this site, so make sure you want whoever is viewing your profile to SEE what is on there. I’m sure most people remember when employers were snooping on potential and current employees’ facebook profiles. There are two easy solutions to avoiding this problem: keep your facebook clean or don’t facebook friend your boss. Define your audience and then edit accordingly.

twitter: Most people who were involved int his discussion at the STC meeting found twitter to be of no use to them. “It’s just like a bunch of facebook status updates,” one member said. However, twitter has found a purpose for some users, or else it would not still be around. The social environment of this channel can be as professional or as personal as you like, as long as it’s 140 characters or less. People “follow” you to be able to view your status updates and you can follow others to do the same. On the homepage is the most recent status updates from those you are following. I mainly use this to promote my blog (see the sidebar on the right!), but have a personal account for my personal “tweets.” The one thing that gets me most is when businesses delegate someone the responsibility to manage their twitter, and the person “tweets” about getting their hair done, dropping kids off to school, etc. (I’m not making this up!). If I don’t know you, I don’t want to know that you are painting your nails. Only time will tell to see if twitter tweets itself to death.

LinkedIn: A semi-formal social environment, this is my favorite social media site for professional networking. Users are allowed to create a professional profile including all things that you would include on a resume (you can even upload an electronic version of your resume to save time typing it all in!). You “add to your network” instead of friending or following other users. Users who added you to their network and vice versa are not “friends,” they are “connections.” You can message people, join professional groups, and even ask to be “introduced” to a user via one of your connections. The neatest feature on here is the “recommendations.” Your connections can “recommend” you according to your work experience, education, etc. In turn, their recommendation shows up on your profile. I’m waiting for the day when you no longer submit a resume to an employer, but instead send them a link to your LinkedIn profile.

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