Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Social Media.

One of the greatest things I learned in college was how to use social media.

While I certainly don't consider myself to be an "expert" or a "guru" in the online game, I do take pride in being good at it and building a career in this field. I'll admit that I am not super techy, nor do I read sites like Mashable and...hmmm...I don't even know what other sites besides Mashable that social media experts and gurus are supposed to read.

No seriously, I just tried to Google it so I would seem smarter for this blog post. It didn't work...

Anyway, as I was saying: I'm not a social media "expert" or anything, but I'm learning how to be good at it and I'm establishing a name for myself, locally, through social media.

In fact, I would dare say that many of my significant professional opportunities, and even quite a few of my personal opportunities, have stemmed through social media and the relationships and networks that I've made over the years. Further to that I've made some really great friends, who I don't really consider to be a "network" in the formal sense anyway, but who I've met through social media and who just make my life better.

Social media has been a game changer for me-- If you would have asked me five years ago what I'd be doing for a living, I would have never imagined that I would be able to say that I get to be online (on Facebook and all of those other fun sites) all the time, and get paid for it.

I'm not even sure the job of a "Social Media Coordinator" really, truly existed five or more years ago. Until recently I don't think a lot of people or businesses put a great deal of stock in social media. The progressive folks did I'm sure, but it certainly wasn't as standard then as it is now. Since it is a relatively new way of branding oneself personally, professionally and corporately, lots of people still kind of don't really get it.

In fact, many people (businesses especially) only see social media as a way to sell themselves or a product. In doing so, they miss the opportunity to engage with others, establish relationships, and showcase their personality.

If it's not done right, it's a complete waste.

Twitter is the place that gives birth to corporate personalities in a way that other online mediums haven't been able to do before. Think about that for a second... On Twitter we see corporations as personalities based on how they post. That's insane. Logos and brands have feelings, wit, and insights, not to mention conversations with people? (Seriously, I had a conversation with @KildonanPlace on Twitter the other day. Not a person, but a mall. And that is the new normal.)

All of this aside, I admit that I never used to get it either.

Rewind back to 2009 when I was a first year CreComm student and I was told that I had to sign up for a Twitter account. I'll admit that I was skeptical at first, wondering why I was paying tuition and living humbly on a meagre student income, and my PR instructor was spending an entire class helping us sign up for a Twitter account.

Seriously? Can I get a refund?

Truth be told, I already had a dormant Twitter account that I didn't know how to use, so I was already one step ahead of the game...Sort of.

I can't remember the exact instructions that we were given for our new social media journey, but I know we were supposed to start tweeting and establishing our own personal brand. The advantage that we as CreComm students had over other people joining Twitter was that we all instantly had at least one or two hundred followers, because as a whole we all followed each other. At the time I didn't realize that this advantage gave us of us instant online cred, as anyone on Twitter understands that building a follower-base isn't always easy.

Initially I was terrified to create my online persona; my "brand" if you will. I was scared that my big personality would get in the way of me ever finding a job, because although I have some great skills and was learning new ones that would help me in the communications field, I also have a silly, sarcastic, opinionated BIG personality that would, and probably does, sometimes hinder me.

So, when I first started to create my social media self online I was quite vanilla.

In playing it safe with the things I posted online I found myself terribly bored and boring. I posted things because I had to, not because I wanted to. I was terrified of my opinions and the scrutiny that would ensue if I shared them. I was even more terrified of my letting my personality show because if people didn't like me, they would never hire me. There was no joy in any it. If I felt this way, people who were reading anything I posted could probably see this too.

There was little to no value in what I had to say, I was just online because I had to be, and if that was the case, me being online was a big, fat waste of time and energy.

So, I decided that I needed to change and actually start to show the world (or my followers anyway) who I am, and what value I bring to the table.

I am still working on this. I will probably always be working on this.