This week’s guest blogger, Allyson Pryer, is a recent college graduate now working in the field of Social Media at Innovations in Print in Lakewood, NJ. She takes a look at the impact social media has on individuals and businesses and suggests how colleges and universities should prepare future graduates for a world steeped in social media.
If someone told me in high school that one day I’d be making money for chatting, I would have called them crazy and laughed it off. Yet here I am, fresh out of college, getting paid to do just that. It’s also the reason I met the wonderful woman behind this blog, Laura Gesin, and the reason I am writing this post. (Editor’s note: Allyson is one of the best people I’ve met on Twitter – why do you think I asked her to guest post?)
There’s no denying that social media has completely transformed our means of communication, but what some people have yet to realize is that these new forms of technology are extremely beneficial as a means of networking, promoting, selling, and increasing business. This is exactly the reason why so many businesses are turning to sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and exactly why I have a job right now. I’ve met many people who tell me I’m crazy and laugh at me when I tell them what I do, but what these people don’t understand is that this new form of media has become a socializing phenomenon.
When I meet business owners and companies who don’t utilize social media, my first reaction is to ask, “Why?” Networking with others online though social media along with blogging has proven to be effective for business purposes, and some schools have even added social media as a part of their curriculum. There are many schools, including Seton Hall, my Alma Mater, that not only teach social media, but use it to reach out to students about events, school closings and emergencies, athletics, and to simply increase school pride. Knowing that so many students are consumed with technology has allowed for better and more consistent communication between schools and students. With online textbooks and online degrees becoming an integral part of many colleges and universities, it’s only right that they apply these aspects to course curriculum as well.
People have made careers out of blogging and engaging potential customers through the internet. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to make use of these tools. You have a world of free advertising at your finger tips and the ability to reach people all over the world during every single second of every single day. As technology continues to advance, social sites will as well. This is evident in the growth of YouTube, Foursquare and Google Buzz, just to name a few.
I think that social media is a subject that should be integrated into every school, as long as we continue to use and benefit from it. During my four years at Seton Hall, I studied the evolution of print newspaper to the use of the internet as a means of getting news. As journalism major, I saw first-hand the change that began to occur in the world of newspapers and the way we get our news. We started out my freshman year learning the techniques and rules of print journalism, only to find ourselves having to grasp the idea of new technology and online news as the years went on.
I wrote my senior thesis on social media and its role in the future of news. At first I thought Facebook was useless for anything other than posting inappropriate pictures and keeping in touch with friends and relatives across the country. As for Twitter, I wasn’t interested in what Kim Kardashian was doing or who Joe Shmoe was rooting for. In the case of blogging, I honestly just thought it was nerdy. Then I started doing some research.
In addition to reading articles and talking to people, we began to discuss social media in a few of my classes. It was like a whole new world! Suddenly I became engulfed in the idea of social networking. From that point on, I have been an active user and admittedly sometimes an addict. My newfound knowledge of social media landed me an internship for a public relations company in New York City that changed my life. It is for this reason that I strongly believe in the addition of social media to college courses. I, personally, would have much rather learned about social media than sat through a 3 hour chemistry lab. For the record, I have yet to find a use for my knowledge of covalent bonds.
While many of us learned on our own, discovering how to use social networking from a business standpoint is something that has become necessary in many of our lives today. I can easily go to an online job search engine and type in “social media” and, within an instant, pages of jobs and internships focusing on social media pop up on my screen. In addition, I have seen a number of job postings that require experience in social media. LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals that doubles as a search engine for such jobs. If that isn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what is!
Now, more than ever, companies are looking to hire individuals who have extensive knowledge in these fields. Something that Seton Hall does well, and that I believe is also very important, is holding networking events and mock interviews where students can practice speaking and presenting themselves to potential employers and other professionals. Schools need to start preparing students by teaching them how to network themselves and how to use new forms of media be for both prospective careers and their own professional lives.
Don’t believe in the impact?
“A study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook. Moreover, they’re 79% more likely to recommend their Twitter follows to a friend, and 60% more likely to do the same on Facebook.” (You can read more about this study here.)
The facts are undeniable, and I can speak from experience. The number of clients at my company has increased since we implemented our social media initiative, and I personally know a number of people who can say the same about the effect of social media on their businesses. In addition to promoting business, social media is simply a great way to speak out, express yourself, keep in touch, form relationships, and discover new places and people. I’m glad that I hopped on the social media bandwagon when I did, because it has been and continues to be influential in my life. Schools need to jump aboard too, because it’s a lesson worth learning!
About the Author:
Allyson is the Marketing Director at Innovations In Print (@InnovationsIP), a premier garment decorator that specializes in high-end screen-printing and embroidered apparel, in Lakewood, NJ. For more information about the company she works for, feel free to shoot her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to say hi? Follow her on Twitter @locallylove!