From #jmc327 to #jmcawesome: What I’ve learned

Looking back on the semester spent in my Social Media class, I have come to understand many things – not just about social media, but about communication in general. As much as I love talking and ramble on when I speak (and sometimes when I write), learning about microblogging and just how short people’s attention spans have come to be has made me realize just how important social media truly is.

Before this semester, I was not into the idea of Twitter. I already had a Facebook, so I wondered how many other ways I needed to know what my friends were talking about. I quickly learned it’s much more than that. Sure, it’s possible to use Twitter merely as a way to see what your friends are up to or what Kim Kardashian is thinking. But Twitter has also become an incredibly useful tool from which I often hear news first. Because so many people’s resources are pooled through Twitter, it is possible to get a well-rounded take on what is happening across the world by merely visiting one site. On top of that, Twitter can also be quite funny, especially through the use of hashtags. My personal favorite is #jmcawesome, but of course, I’m a little biased.

I also learned how to make a Facebook fan page effective. Prior to this class, I had not seen many successful fan pages; many of the ones I belonged to posted sporadically or not at all. With the knowledge I gained from hearing and seeing a useful fan page firsthand, I feel much more enlightened and equipped to run a successful page myself, if need be.

Aside from just learning about social media tools, I now have a much better grasp on how to use them wisely in order to reach the most people. For instance, monitoring Klout scores helps assess the usefulness of a Twitter account. And although my personal score is still fairly low, it has grown from where it was a month or two ago.

Even though I do not really enjoy LinkedIn or find it to be extremely useful personally, I see how it can be used effectively as a professional networking site. I do not particularly understand the way LinkedIn is set up, and at this point I rarely check my account. Regardless, I now have the necessary skills to maintain a LinkedIn profile and can see the potential behind doing so.

Although it sounds so simple, I think one of the most valuable things I learned through Social Media was how to use Twitter. I had no idea what to do when I first started, but now I see what an important tool it truly is. I foresee it gaining popularity and becoming even more influential than it is today.

I am not one to give advice to fellow journalists, but if I had to do so, I would say above all else, it is important to stay familiar with current tools useful to journalists. There is no point trying to fight upcoming technology, because most of it is here to stay (at least for a while). Stay on your toes and try to keep your head above the water.

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