Using Social Media for Good

Written on 2/1/13 by Ali Hendricks

Social Media can be a scary thing.

I mean, you send your resume into a place you’ve dreamt about working your entire life, the human resources person looks at your resume, loves it, and then takes the obvious next step: he or she types your name into Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and Tumblr. That person is out to see who you really are.

Did someone tag you in pictures from last weekend? Did you put a Facebook status up about how your professor should relax because you only had two misspellings in that press release?

These thoughts can be daunting.

You might even be tempted to say you’re going to avoid all social media forever.

I’m here to tell you, you shouldn’t write virtual communication off because if you use it correctly, it can be super beneficial.

Let’s chat about using it for the good.

The social media outlet I find most beneficial for connecting with professionals is Twitter. Almost every Public Relations professional has Twitter and uses it frequently and it can be a great source for virtual networking. Twitter can be a great place to learn.

Here are my twitter suggestions:

      • Create a Twitter handle using your real name. Using your real name on Twitter makes you easier to find when you meet someone who’s interested in you for professional reasons or otherwise. Plus, it shows you aren’t afraid of who can see what you post and probably means you’re using it respectably. Mostly, it keeps you honest; It might help you hold your tongue errr … fingers.
      • Follow as many professionals as you can. Follow news outlets and businesses you’re interested in. This one seems obvious but Twitter gives you the opportunity to be “in the know” in ways never before possible and you should take advantage of that.
      • Sit back, relax & enjoy the chatter. There is so much to be learned when you’re just being quiet & observant. Is someone having a tweet-up? Are two professionals talking about an event you might be interested in? Be nosy, be observant and just listen.

The other social media piece I suggest you check out is blogging. Blogging really cultivates your creativity and helps you understand writing for the masses. When you blog, regardless of what you’re writing, you’re (hopefully) considering your audience and you’re keeping your brain juices flowing.

We all know that much of public relations is writing but we also know that the marketplace is full of writers, so if we want our words to stand out, we need to be more creative than the next guy.

If nothing else, blogging helps you stay fresh in writing and hopefully you’ll even have a few sample pieces to show off in your next interview.

And I saved the worst for last. Facebook.

You know, Facebook has its place, but I truly don’t think it’s a professional place. Using Facebook for the good includes discretion.

These are my Facebook suggestions: 

    • If your name is John Doe, don’t make your Facebook name John Donut. I see this all the time and I’m sure you do too; you know, people using fake names on Facebook? I say, don’t do it. First of all, that HR person can find you if you’re out there, doesn’t matter if you’ve made up some silly name for yourself or not. Secondly, just like with Twitter, having a fake name can be an excuse for yourself to not think twice (or maybe even once) about what you’re posting. It’s a bad idea, really.
    • Set your privacy settings so people can’t tag you in pictures without your approval. This is a thing now, you know? And it’s a thing you should use. Sure, you might check and double check what you’re posting but your friends might not have that same consideration for you and you don’t want to ruin your reputation because your friend posted a picture of you in poor taste.
    • Keep your display and cover photos classy. All your Facebook settings are as private as they’re getting, you’ve made your profile the profile of champions; no one is getting in and nothing is getting out. Well, that’s probably not a safe bet but even so, your display pictures and cover photos are always accessible so they should always be tasteful.

Our culture is social media crazy and that can be both a blessing and a curse but with these tips, you can make it more of the first and less of the second.

You can use social media for the good and you should.


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