As someone interested in journalism/the media one of the recurring messages seems to be social media. Use them – and use all of them – there’s facebook, twitter, instagram, linkedin, wordpress and more.
So, I’ve compiled a list on some of the top tips to using them and more importantly, using them to your advantage. Pretty important for all students – even if you’re not directly interested in media careers – having a strong presence in social media will get you places.
1. Be Ubiquitous. If you have a wordpress blog, have twitter, if you have twitter, have linkedin etc. Now this may seem a bit over the top and it does require some effort on your behalf to make sure you keep them all updated BUT it will work in your favour. You want to be tweeting about your latest blogpost, linking your linkedinfollowers to you twitter and blog and advertising any other media sites you use on your blog. That way you’ll reach a wider number of readers/audience and you might gain some ‘fans’ – that is people who are regular readers and will help you to create a firm support base. No point being in just one place – not everyone has a blog/twitter/linkedin.
2. Be careful. This article puts things into perspective: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/9724871/Why-tipsy-Facebook-photos-beat-no-online-presence-at-all.html but I’ll sum it up. Whilst you’re throwing yourself out there make sure you double think what you’re posting or protect the things that might seem a bit dodgy. Luckily facebook has tightened it’s privacy laws so you can protect any ‘interesting’ photos of yourself, as employers are well known to search for you on a number of social media sights. But still, think of it like an essay – they will assess you based on what you put ‘out there’ – i.e. on the internet. If it’s a string of re-tweets about weird cat videos or facebook pictures of you naked, passed out in a bath you’re not doing yourself any favours. On the other hand, a twitter page re-tweeting top media tweeters from the BBC to specific journalists/politicians with links to articles you’ve written or have read is going to do wonders.
3. Keep focused. Sometimes it may seem pointless to have loads of different social media sights, and if you can’t cope with all of them it’s better to have a couple that can receive your full attention than ten accounts that never get looked at. Regardless, keep focused on the purpose of each sight. For example, twitter – quick, short and most importantly sharp, comments: you want to summarise opinions and highlight the main points whilst all the time keeping RELEVANT. So that means we don’t want three separate tweets which follow on from one another about the same story/comment – keep it to one snappy 160 character piece. But then for your blog you can elaborate – write a mini article or an extended commentary on a particular topic that interests you or something that you’ve read – make sure to tag it well and publicise it on your other media sights for maximum viewing.
4. Be persistent. Those people with 1500+ followers on twitter who don’t seem to have any claim to celebrity status: how do they do it?! PERSISTENCE. If you’re serious about getting high up in social media you need to be motivated and organised so that you make time to promote yourself. Think of social media as branding, essentially that’s what it is. As a brand you have to keep a constant flow so that you start to be noticed; this may seem hard at first, it can be cringey, irritating and very time-consuming, but like weight loss it will probably seem fruitless at first and then one day you’ll realise you’ve made massive progress. 3 pounds lost = 200 new followers out of nowhere. And that’s not just twitter, that applies to all media sights. Read other blogs, reblog, retweet, add people on facebook, make a page for yourself and add links for it everywhere, privately inbox influential people and network to the extreme. This will get you places.
5. Have good material. Despite everything I’ve said this still does depend on what you’re actually ‘throwing out there’. If every tweet is about what you ate five minutes ago, a facebook status telling the world you’re going to the shop or a blog about the new top you’ve bought – you make yourself (i.e. your brand) very subjective and potentially boring. Even if you’re being persistent and staying focused you need to have good material. Choose a theme/topic – so for me I’ve gone for students. That’s still a broad enough topic so that I can talk about students, write for students and then their interested parents/adults and also I can relate students to anything happening in the world from politics to fashion by maintaining a student outlook. This way readers who are interested in students won’t have to wade through a mass of information about my life (which yes is okay if you’re a worshiped celebrity, but if not to everyone else you’re just the next Joe Bloggs) – they should be able to find a number of posts about things which they’re interested in.
Anyway – this probably seems like a lot to take in all at once, but my biggest recommendation is to give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose and whilst it may seem daunting at first you’ll soon get the hang of it and it will only serve to help you in the future.