FIRST CAME THE INTERNET, then came the World Wide Web. Now, social media has burrowed its way into our lives. While barely into their tween years, it’s hard to imagine a time without Facebook (launched 2004), Twitter (2006), LinkedIn (2003), or their younger siblings Instagram (2010) and Pinterest (2010). These social networking sites — and many others have revolutionized the way we communicate and do business.
Just look at the numbers:
- Between 2005 and 2013, social media usage jumped from 9 percent to 90 percent among Internet users ages 18–29 and from 1 percent to 46 percent among those 65 and above.
- Of the 74 percent of online adults who are on social media, 52 percent use multiple platforms.
- Half of college-educated Internet users now have a LinkedIn profile.
- 93 percent of marketers use social media for business.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and a whopping 91 percent of them, ages 18–29, have accessed social media on their phone.
“We are only in the beginning of this revolution,” says Nicole Harrison ’97, MAED’02, president of SocialNicole, a social media marketing agency. “Not being a part of it is like choosing not to use the telephone, email or other earlier technologies. We really don’t have a choice.”
Liz Dillon ’12, social media coordinator for the Minnesota Children’s Museum, shares Harrison’s sentiments. “Social media is a place for conversation,” she notes. And if you run a large company
or own a small business, she adds, people will talk about you, whether you’re part of the conversation or not. “If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on new customers and a chance to build
brand loyalty with your current stakeholders,” Dillon says.
So, what’s the uninitiated to do? Can digital natives better manage their public face on social media? How can social media benefit you?
Christine Palumbo ’75
Registered dietitian and nutrition expert
HEADS UP: Twitter is for everyone. It’s a new way to network and it can help you if you use it correctly. The Chicago Tribune had an article recently about how a man used Twitter to sell his house!
- Develop a bio that makes others interested in following you. Then tweet useful information — quality and variety matter. I keep my tweets about 90 percent professional, sharing nutrition tips or links to surprising or compelling research studies.
- Turn to your online community for mentoring. There is no limit to the personalities and expertise you and tap into and learn from.
- Since May of last year, Twitter has allowed us to share multiple photos in the same Tweet. You can tag people. (Yes, just like Facebook!).
Nicole Harrison ’97, MAED’02
President and social media marketing strategist, SocialNicole marketing agency
HEADS UP: Instagram has introduced clickable links for paid advertising. This could be a major step for serious businesses looking for ways to influence users and increase results.
- Tell a story with photos and share what’s interesting or unique about your company, employees, customers and products. And make sure you follow, like and comment on other people’s posts. Just pushing your products will not get you results.
- Instagram recently release a new app called Layout, which allows users to easily create creative collages to post on their Instagram accounts and other social media channels.
- Business owners: Understand what metrics to use and make strategic decisions based on the data.
Liz Dillon ’12
Social media coordinator, Minnesota Children’s Museum
HEADS UP: What continues to excite me about Facebook is its ability to connect. Facebook is like being at the most interesting dinner party. Ever.
- Be authentic. Don’t “sell” but connect, listen and help your customer. You need to be there for them and give them what they want before asking for anything. Be the awesome person you are, and let that shine through by interacting and getting to know your audience.
- Future employers will look at both personal and professional digital presence, so be prepared for that.
- If your post or photo needs further explanation or will raise eyebrows, don’t post it.
Andrew Calkins MAOL’12
Principal strategist and consultant, SyncedIn Strategies
HEADS UP: LinkedIn members now have access to what is essentially a self-publishing blog capability intended for examining professional issues. This is a great platform for sharing knowledge and
experience, as well as for defining a personal or institutional brand.
- Keep your profile current and strategically cultivate your networks and connections (business, professional and academic) to fully realize the benefits of LinkedIn. A strong network is an invaluable resource.
- LinkedIn focuses primarily on professions, careers and academics. So it's a logical platform for defining yourself professionally.
- Don't just post a resume online and call it a day. Post content related to your expertise and genuinely participate in group conversations.
Did You Know?
Facebook has 1.39 billion monthly active users 890 million daily users and 745 million mobile users.
Twitter has 288 million monthly active users and 500 million tweets daily. Its fastest growing demographic: 55–64 year olds.
A LinkedIn profile with a photo is 11 times more likely to be viewed.
Making the Personal Professional
In this age of social networking, our professional and personal presence are more intertwined than ever before. Be savvy when creating your online persona:
Be thoughtful and deliberate about what you share online. — Andrew Calkins
Social media rules are always changing. Stay on top by subscribing to tech news, joining digital communities and asking lots of questions. — Liz Dillon
Business owners: Decide what channel is fun, feels most natural to you and fits into your business goals, and manage this channel yourself. If you want a presence on other channels, consider hiring a social media manager or management company to assist with your postings. — Nicole Harrison
Baby boomers: Don’t be curmudgeons! Social media can open up amazing opportunities if you give it a chance. Case in point: My husband grudgingly joined Facebook in 2013 and, this February, became “friends” with a local CBS weekend weather forecaster. When he snaps an outdoor photo he thinks is worthy of sharing, he sends it to her. She regularly features his photos on the morning and evening newscasts, and also comments on them when he posts them on his Facebook page. — Christine Palumbo
Digital Extra: Q&A with Social Nicole
Social Nicole (Nicole Harrison) is the mom of @AstronautAbby, the 17-year-old on Twitter (with 24.4K followers) who wants to be the first astronaut to Mars.
If I only have time for one platform, which one is the best to use?
This depends on your audience, business goals and social media goals. Every platform is unique and has pros and cons.
Best advise on handling trolls, negative or abusive users in social media?
Create a social media crisis plan that incorporates a policy of how you will handle these types of users. Typically the biggest social media snafu’s come from an employee deleting or replying to a comment without first considering the ramifications of that action.
How are the rules changing?
Social media today is very focused on results. A business owner should understand what metrics to use and making decisions based on the data. Social media marketing is ongoing. It starts with setting goals, identifying audiences, creating strategy and messaging, testing, running a program, and then reviewing and analyzing your work.