Twitter

Twitter 101 for the College Grad

If you had asked me 3 years ago if I would be active on Twitter, I – pretty embarrassingly – would’ve scoffed and stated that I wasn’t a fan of Twitter. As a current college graduate, I can definitely attest to the fact that for content alone, Twitter is my premier resource for finding out what’s going on in my two favorite fields, marketing/social media and higher education. Plus, getting to tweet at my college president definitely makes having a Twitter 500% worth it.

On a non-professional level, there are tons of casual activities you can do on Twitter. You can get news updates, follow companies and get sales/deals, and plenty of other things in an insanely quick format. When I first started using Twitter, it gave me the chance to check out comedians, funny facts, and some CEOs I was really fascinated by. And it’s incredibly easy to sift through information when it’s only 140 characters.

Though even if you’re using it as a social outlet, I always caution people to make their tweets private if you’re going to use your name and picture. Most people don’t want to be the student who gets caught skipping class because they tweeted that they were smoking downtown. Just remember, your bosses/administrators/etc. don’t live in caves. They’re probably online as well.

But if you’re a college grad, you’re probably not all too interested in hearing that you can retweet Conan O’Brien unless you’re going for a career in comedy. Though I use Twitter as a part of representing my identity as a Lafayette student (now alumni) and promoting my blog posts, remember that Twitter should ultimately be a social experience even if you are using it on a professional level. The most important part of Twitter for me is connecting with thought leaders and expand my interests in the field of social media marketing. Depending on what you’re interested in, Twitter is an simple way to keep yourself updated and engaged in what’s going on in relation to your work. There are also many other general benefits to using it professionally such as:

  •  Establishing a quick online presence: most college students and grads don’t really want their Facebook profiles on their resumes, and more often than not you shouldn’t. But for those especially applying in fields where an online presence is beneficial and should be listed on one’s resume, having a Twitter profile is a pretty easy way to show that you’re active online without (hopefully) having to give out any info that could be seen as unprofessional.
  • Engaging with brands informally: Are you looking to work at X company? See what they say and do on their Twitter page. This will also give you an idea of how important social media could be to them. Do they only share their own content or are they actively engaging with customers? How frequent do they post? What is the tone and voice of their posts online? This can be especially helpful if you’re looking for a job and crafting a cover letter as you can use their voice to show that you get the company culture.
  •  Connect to those in your field: For recent grads, it’s always important to figure out who counts as at least one or two steps above you, and how they got to the position that they are at. Especially if you’re hoping to be a trailblazer in your specialty one day, figure out who are some of the people that you might be able to reach out to, and learn more from them. If nothing else, you may also learn a lot by seeing how their handle their social media presence, and what kind of content they find relevant.
  • Improve your writing skills: Can you say something intelligent in 140 characters? Can you do that while sharing articles, including pictures, and commenting on other’s work? I’ll admit, I definitely had trouble doing so when I first started out with Twitter. I always had so much to say, but so little space to say it in. And I really enjoy Twitter for helping me to push to be more concise online. While I’ll never lose my penchant for long-winded thoughts or conversations, there is definitely a useful space for being able to keep things short and sweet. If you have similar trouble, I recommend using Twitter as a practice tool for writing. If you can tell a story in 1000 words or 140 characters, you’re in good shape for a lot of careers.

So after all this, you’re probably thinking what exactly do I have to do to get active? The best medicine for social media often happens through trial and error, but here are a few 200-level tips for those hoping to create a great professional Twitter profile.

Join TweetChat sessions: TweetChats are really amazing opportunities to connect with other thought leaders – or other interested grads – via online. Essentially it’s a live Chat session that can be followed with a specific hashtag. For example, if I wanted to do a live chat of my graduation, I could use a hashtag such as #laf14gradday or something along those lines. For a more comprehensive description check out this great Forbes article on TweetChats. You can easily do one yourself if you’re interested in gaining prominence as an expert in your field. Alternatively, joining other TweetChats is not only a great way to meet thought leaders, but also a potential way to gain more followers depending on the content you publish.

Participate in Follow Friday or look for groups: On most Fridays, you can use the Follow Friday #ff hashtag to find interesting people to follow. If you’re not 100% sure whether that will be too much information to sift through, see if there are groups that you can be added to. For example, I’m part of a social media rising stars group and the HerCampus Blogger Network group on Twitter – and those resources definitely help when trying to find more people within a similar field.

Recognize that you lose a level of brand agency: While it’s up to you to make an amazing profile and start connecting to others, there is a certain level of agency you lose when going online. You can control what you say, but you don’t have agency over what others say about you. While this usually causes more issues for those running company over personal profiles, it’s still a good thing to keep in mind.

Got any more tips on how to run a professional Twitter profile? Leave them in the comments!
And a special congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Want to be creative? Try disconnecting.

With my talk of social media and MOOCs, its pretty clear that I love the influence of the Internet. Even after listening to my grandmother’s woes about how ‘we’re always shoving some screen into our faces’ it’s difficult for me to think of how some things worked without the internet.

At the same time, the constant push to be online has caused a lot of problems. Whether its the dangers (and mass acts of cruelty) that come from internet anonymity or even the fear of missing out which seems to be a result of social media sites and the push to constantly be ‘on’ (but also off?) and show how exciting your life is. I try to be as mundane as possible, so the only purpose of social media is to post artsy pictures, vague statuses, and the occasional mention of my dog.

Side-note: If you tend to post a lot of pictures of dogs, feel free to connect with me on all social media sites. Double points if you have puppies.

But there’s another side effect of internet in my opinion – its saps creativity. It’s hard to have time to yourself to think and create when you’re constantly absorbing and shifting through a variety of information whether it’s articles, messages, or photos. While I think the quest for originality is highly overrated, it is important for people to be innovative. It’s a way to express yourself in a thoughtful and detailed way. And in some aspects, when you finally find yourself online again you’ll have something unique to contribute. 

There are plenty of small things you can do to go offline every now and then:

  • Take a walk every day: There are plenty of benefits from walking every now and then. It’s also a great way to reflect during the beginning or end of your day. My current dorm involves walking at least 4 blocks before I get on campus, and I really love the feeling of having time to think about my day before moving straight into work or school. In fact, I come up with most of my short story ideas while taking a walk.
  • Use a whiteboard/sketchpad/etc.: Sometimes you really just need to draw out what you’re thinking. Even absentminded drawing can be the start of something great.
  • Join a club or volunteer: Sometimes you need to clear your mind of your own self-reflection and think about the needs of other people. And I personally think volunteering is the most productive way of doing this, but joining a club and participating in a cause that you care about is another fantastic way to go about expending energy. And some get their creative energy through working around and with others, so that’s always a great option if you want to build creativity within the company of others.
  • Give up a day to chaos:  This one is simple – take a day, and day, and leave it completely up to chance. Instead of focusing on completing tasks and meeting deadlines, find a day that you can use to do whatever you what.

Instead of focusing on whether being online or offline is the better option – look into finding different ways to value the time equally. Focus on how you can maximize your time for growth, instead of pushing to be in one state of being or another.

What are your tips for building creativity?

What Inspires Me: Jumping into the Unknown

What Inspires Me: Jumping into the Unknown

English: Morning mist on Lake Mapourika, New Z...

English: Morning mist on Lake Mapourika, New Zealand. Français : Brume du matin sur le lac Mapourika, en Nouvelle-Zélande. Deutsch: Nebel bei Lake Mapourika in Neuseeland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I was reading LinkedIn, and noticed a few posts about a new topic: “What Inspires Me.” All of the posts are from a variety of LinkedIn influencers sharing their experiences and what motivates them to, well get up in the morning. And since I’m a big fan of the bandwagon, I’m sharing what inspires me, and I welcome others to share theirs as well.

Around this time about two months ago, I found myself lost. I was unhappy with my major, about to fail a class, thinking about transferring to another school, and most of all, I was tired of living. In my eyes, if I couldn’t get good grades – who was I? Why did I matter? I managed to salvage my failing grade into a B somehow, and left my school planning never to come back. Then I learned that a family member of mine was having health issues, and combined with trying to send (really throw) my brother off to college, it was a bit stressful.

But I realized, I couldn’t remain like this. And I really didn’t want to stay like this either. Initially I thought that my problems stemmed from being too overworked. In retrospect, I realized that instead of working in the places that mattered, I avoided these situations as a way to reinforce what was going on in my life. 

To combat this, I decided to intern at my local library. And strangely enough, that experience changed my career plans, self-esteem, and led me to realize what I’m focused on. Now I don’t recommend everyone to hit rock-bottom in the interests of finding themselves, but I’m glad that this happened to me. I said goodbye to my old study habits, my old perception, and my past understanding of myself as a person, and thought of who I am within the community.

Despite their natural beauty, the secluded val...

Despite their natural beauty, the secluded valleys along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii are heavily modified by introduced invasive species such as She-oak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I truly believe that jumping into the unknown is the best thing that one can do. Don’t stay with being content, be happy. It’s OK not to know all of the answers, but it’s not OK to remain stagnant. Find the answers. Discover your problems. For me, it was studying. For others, it may reveal itself to be very different. Push forward in everything that you do. Don’t be stagnant. 

The Social Media Separation

So a few days ago, I decided to deactivate my Facebook. About a month ago, I decided to get rid of my Twitter. I don’t think either of these things will be permanent, but as I’m about to graduate within the next year I wanted to run an experiment. Primarily, I wanted my sole social media outlets to end up being my blog and my LinkedIn. It’s also a little bit about figuring out the mechanics of online branding. As most of you know, branding is creating an image or construct that ends up being your main outlet for either your personal or professional life. I try to do my best to make sure that my personal and professional brands aren’t too extreme from one another, but I realized that I’m not entirely sure what I want that brand to be. So within this month, I hope I learn a few things:

How exactly does branding help your public image?

How much effort have I put into my professional image vs. my personal?

What do I need to focus on (besides the basics: blogging, personal website, social media links)?

And eventually, I hope to construct a guide on social media links and having an online presence. 

My other reason for temporary leaving social media is a bit more selfish. Sometimes being so intricately connected online takes away from the other important work that I am doing. I enjoy sharing photos, stories, and keeping up to date with my friends, but at the same time I also value my privacy. I also don’t necessarily know how I feel about the decreasing privacy barriers that happen with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. I doubt LinkedIn is perfect, but at least the benefits (professional networking) most certainly outweigh the costs (somewhat limited access to functions, privacy costs). There are some aspects of social media that I enjoy, but I think that having a bit of privacy for a while isn’t the worst thing in the world. Hopefully I’ll come back with some tidbits of wisdom later. Wish me luck!

So How Obnoxious Am I?

Also social media is awesome. Don’t let others tell you otherwise.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about generation Y and our status as the ‘entitled’ generation. This is partially because of Joel Stein’s article in time located here (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2143001,00.html?pcd=pw-edit) where he so artfully dubs us the Me Generation. I also read the really fascinating response by Tyler Mangrum at HackCollege (http://www.hackcollege.com/blog/2013/05/13/generation-us-where-joel-stein-got-it-wrong.html), which if you’re a college student who’s not ready Hack College, correct that mistake immediately. I’ll admit, being part of Gen Y, my heart naturally goes out to us. But at the same time, I wonder if the point that Mr. Stein and many others have made holds any weight.

Bonus note: Cheap college student that I am, I wasn’t actually able to read all of Mr. Stein’s article in full – since I don’t have a subscription – so I will try to keep my comments focused on general comments about Gen Y, instead of criticizing him directly.

So just what it is that has others pegging Gen Y as the most selfish, entitled generation? Some of it is understandable. All social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are designed with the purpose of having us connect with other people on an online platform. But for the most part, it functions as us providing a platform for our opinions, with the hope that we’ll find like minded people to share our viewpoints (or at least compliment our selfies).

And to a certain extent, I agree with that standpoint. Especially for teenagers, the internet has given us the freedom to let all of our complaints out into the world, and find a safe haven. Unfortunately this sometimes has negative consequences and gives others in society a platform to spew anger and hate, but there’s a community for everyone out there I suppose.

But that’s not the real issue at hand. To an extent, every generation has been given a negative label by the previous ones, and its important to see whether Gen Y lives up to its self entitled label. And the answer unsurprisingly, is yes and no.

I believe a lot of the entitlement other generations see in us is actually a deep seated frustration. (Note: This is probably more relevant and true towards 90s kids.) Most of us grew up in a time where we were protected and warned against any kind of danger. Most of my childhood was interrupted with PSAs saying don’t do drugs/sex/-insert-obscenity-here. We had our raunchy cartoons and computers and soon  enough, our MySpace and Facebook. Unlike our parents, we had a platform where we could talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, and in some cases our parents wouldn’t even know. We had all of our exciting and shiny gadgets and it was awesome.

And then the recession happened. And suddenly we had everything and nothing at all. Now that the social media revolution is spilling over into the working world we may have more job opportunities but at the original point and time, we were in a bad economy with little preparation and god forbid if you had a non science, technical, financial, or health degree no marketable skills. And instead of being complacent, we fought back. We were angry about the economy, angry at politicians, and angry at the fact that we had no real solution to the problem.

And just like Gen X, I think we’ll have to solve this problem by creating our own revolution. Even though we were essentially thrown out into the world without direction, every generation has had that moment to themselves. There’s a time where we’ll have to figure it out and fight back. I can’t wait to see that revolution within our generation, and that’s partially why I want to be in Library and Information Science. While my focus is on the more medical aspects, I want to help out with that revolution. Maybe once we reach there, we can finally get rid of articles such as Mr. Stein’s Me Generation. The next Generation (Z? I don’t even know) can pick up the slack for us next time.

What do you think about the Generation Y issue?