In a perfect world, I would have known at fifteen that I wanted to have a career in marketing and communications. In a perfect world, I would not have gone to college as a Biology major, then changed to Political Science, then to Spanish, and finally to History. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have spent many thousands of dollars to get my MA in Latin American History only to discover that my passion is in communications and social media. Unfortunately, I do not live in a perfect world.
The world in which I do live is far from perfect, but it is amazing. I have a great job that I love at Georgia Tech, and I no longer live in the cold Midwest. I spend most of my days working with students and alumni, planning events, marketing them on social media, and then spending more time than necessary designing the perfect newsletter to recap everything. I love my job, but because I do not live in a perfect world, I do not have any formal background or training in what I actually do. In an effort to combat this, and because I simply love learning, I am spending the next year enrolled in the Certificate for Digital and Social Media at Kennesaw State University. I’m hoping to learn all kinds of things, but the ones I’m most looking forward to in COM 5100: Social Media and Concepts are listed below.
THE BEST PLATFORMS FOR STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
Interacting with students is an integral part of retaining them, and social media seems to be the way to go in this regard. Rather than asking students to read a number of emails each week about an upcoming event, we can simply create an event on Facebook and have their friends invite them. Rather than asking students to leave class early to attend a guest lecture, we can live tweet it so they do not miss any of the action and then post it on YouTube for review later. Social media is a great way to keep students involved, but it sometimes seems like we are trying to market via Facebook and Twitter to a group that is no longer interested in Facebook or Twitter.
Georgia Tech has recently gotten their own Snapchat, and Instagram seems to be the most popular social network for our students. But with over fifty large social media platforms, how do we determine what is the best one? Which is the next big thing? And what is the best way to interact with these students once we have the platform? Similarly, how do we interact with our alumni, who are as important as our students? Do we really need Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, and Vine in order to reach everyone?
PAY TO PLAY
Every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter, or even Instagram now, the social media networks are asking me to pay for something. While it is still free to host a Facebook Page or have a Twitter account, they claim that traffic will increase and more hits will be generated if I pay them. Some small businesses have boosted posts on Facebook and came away with nothing. I have done it a small number of times for my department (when our faculty members completed some really amazing research!) and we actually did receive a number of new page likes as well as a huge increase in the number of people who saw our posts.
But as someone who isn’t selling anything, who really isn’t even providing a buy-able service to anyone except Georgia Tech students, is it worth it to spend a few extra dollars here and there to boost a post or have it show up in more people’s Twitter feeds? For those of us who are simply trying to get our information out there, trying to get people to see the cool things we are doing and care about our work, is it worth it to spend the extra time and money, or is this simply a way for social networks to make an even larger profit?
HOW CONNECTED IS TOO CONNECTED
For better or for worse, my phone actually looks like this. Between my boyfriend and I, we go through nearly 15 GB of data every month, and most of that is used by me. The sad part is that this does not take into account the amount of time that I spend on my phone on wifi. While some of this use is for personal use, a vast majority of it is spent on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram updating my work pages and responding to students, alumni, and even strangers who comment on our statuses, tweets, and pictures. With people now expecting a less than sixty minute response time, I do my best to stay connected at all times.
For my students, this is a good thing – they know that they can get in touch with someone from the department at almost any given time. But it can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining to be connected at all times. I am especially guilty of multitasking and trying to be “in the moment” with my family and friends while also trying to be “at work” via social media on my phone. I know my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, and even my dog would be grateful if I could learn to put down my phone every once in a while. But how do we do this without compromising what we work so hard for on social media? How connected must we stay after business hours to still get the results we want?
In a perfect world, I would already know these things. I would have spent my undergraduate and graduate years discussing social media and put all that time I spent procrastinating on Facebook to good use. Fortunately, I now have the opportunity to do so, and I could not be more excited!
If you were taking this class, what would you want to know most about digital and social media?