Posts Tagged ‘ Social media ’

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.

Back to basics

Over the Easter weekend, I had the chance to travel to Denver with four of my best friends from school. We had a wonderful time exploring the area, visiting the mountains and spending time with one of the girls’ family.

Since it was an unfortunately brief trip – we were only there four days – and I knew we would be busy with varying activities, I elected to not bring my laptop along. Although I have a smartphone capable of browsing the Internet, we did not have a lot of down time. And when we did have some free time, we enjoyed playing board games or talking to our friend’s family. Social media sites were the last thing on my mind, and I spent four days without checking my Facebook or Twitter.

Sure, I’ll admit I’ve come to love said social networking sites. But I’ll be perfectly honest and say that being free of almost everything Internet-related for a few days felt like a breath of fresh air. Even though I am not obligated to check and/or update my social media pages daily, not a day goes by (at least when I’m at school) when I do not do so. I have become so accustomed to maintaining those sites that it is now part of my everyday routine.

I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, though. Facebook and Twitter are two tools that help keep me posted on local and world news, friends’ lives and pop culture. I enjoy being in the loop, and Facebook and Twitter are two easy, efficient sites that keep me in the know.

But I think every now and then it is important for people – or at least for me – to take a step away from their laptops and enjoy genuine face-to-face interaction. I had so much fun with my friends this weekend. Sure, we were in a fun city experiencing different things than we could at home or in Omaha, but mostly I feel we just enjoyed each other’s company.

I love how the Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate. It has allowed me to keep in touch with people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. But in the long run, I’m not going to remember my friend’s Facebook status that quoted my favorite song or the tweet informing me of who was the first to show up at the royal wedding. Instead, I’m going to remember the amazing time I spent with people who are important to me. So I will continue to intake the news, celebrity gossip and whatever insights my friends care to share with the world – I’ll just take it with a grain of salt.

All of us in my friend's backyard in Denver

The story on Storify

With all the social media outlets and ways to share information, it’s easy to get bogged down with too much information. Thankfully, there is a useful tool called Storify that allows you to combine information — including pictures, tweets, videos and text — from various social media sites. And these aggregates can be embedded anywhere for easy sharing with family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Storify, which boasts early users such as The Washington Post, Yahoo! News and the Los Angeles, is useful in many ways. It is often used to compile information about the weather, such as during or after an intense storm. Political events like debates and breaking government news are often compiled for Storify; additionally, Storify is used to monitor people’s reactions to these debates and other happenings. With the upcoming NBA draft, I’m sure many people will create aggregates on certain players and teams and how they were affected by the draft.

But Storify’s potential is not limited to just politics, weather and sports. One of the best parts about Storify, in my opinion, is that you can compile information about anything. In fact, with all the people in my Social Media class tweeting about social media using the hashtag #jmc327, we could even use Storify to combine all that information.

However, you are not limited to just using Twitter posts in Storify. To get the most well-rounded aggregate, you can compile information from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Google and more. And although all this sounded quite intimidating to me at first, it’s incredibly easy to use Storify. Simply type in a keyword or phrase into the search bar and toggle between the various social media outlets, dragging the information from the left side of the page to the right. After that, merely enter text as you please and you have an aggregate.

In this day and age, people’s attention spans are shrinking rapidly. Not many people have the time, energy or patience to read an entire article that spans three pages on the Internet. Storify allows you to combine information quickly and easily, and readers can skim through the story you created as fast or slowly as they want.

Although I can think of many great uses for Storify, I imagine using it to record facts and opinions about natural disasters would be one of the most effective uses. For example, after the recent earthquake in Japan, I looked at many different news and social media sites, trying to get the most complete story possible. But had I found a story from Storify instead, I could have read the same information much more easily and quickly.

I can see myself creating stories on and reading stories from Storify in the future. It’s a fast, effective way to share and receive information, and in these changing times, that seems to be just what people need.



Reviewing the State of the Media

For anyone who thought reading news on the Internet and social media were just fads, think again. After reading the State of the Media report, conducted by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, thoughts were confirmed that the online trend is gaining speed.

Times are changing rapidly, and I feel nervous but excited for the future of journalism. Newsroom sizes are shrinking, but there is just as much news as before, if not more. Advertisements are becoming more important with the rise of online reporting, and social media sites are starting to play a large role in journalism, too, as they bring traffic to news sites.

But as focus shifts from traditional to nontraditional forms of media, other changes are also occurring. A study shows that nearly half of Americans get at least some of their news from a mobile device. And with the number of tablet owners growing rapidly, it is clear the number of people who get news from mobile devices will increase.

After letting information from the report soak in for over a day, I am still trying to grasp some of what I read. Most of it does not surprise me, but as a future journalism professional, it made me stop to think about what the industry will be like in a few years. That thought is particularly daunting to me. But it also makes me realize the exciting possibilities for journalism in the future.

The report said, “It may be that in the digital realm the news industry is no longer in control of its own future.” This is a daunting thought to me, but as I think back to the history of journalism, I realize that many drastic changes have happened over the years. Some of the changes had a positive effect and others negative, but for better or worse they happened, and journalists figured out how to adapt. I can only hope that we as a society can find a way to improve upon current journalistic traditions.

Although I can’t predict what will happen, I hope that journalism will grow and adapt, and thrive with these changes–and I hope I will also grow in those ways.

Just how social is social media?

When I think back to my life before I began utilizing social media, it’s hard to remember just what I did with my free time. But these days I know just how I waste time: social media, a tool that has revolutionized the way we interact with other people.

Thanks to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, instead of completely forgetting about that random girl from junior high whose locker was next to yours, you know that she bought some new flats on sale at Target and–big news–she just painted her toenails blue! No matter whether you think it’s for good or bad, you can’t deny social media has drastically changed the way we communicate.

An article on the Guardian sparked debate over social media. Some say social media allows us to be in contact contact with friends, family and colleagues, and others argue it has made us lazy and isolated from the real world. Even though I know it sounds like a cop out, I think both are true, and I agree with some points of both sides of the argument.

While social media is great for maintaining friendships and networking, to me it also creates a sense of extreme laziness and isolation. Sometimes I spend time looking at social media sites and then realize I haven’t actually had a face-to-face conversation with another human being in hours. Other times I Facebook chat with my roommates–while we’re in the same apartment. Is it something I can’t talk to them about in person? No. We’re just honestly that lazy sometimes.

For friends I’m still close to, I’d much rather talk on the phone or Skype than get a bi-annual life update via Facebook. But there are people I’d like to keep in touch with who I’m just not comfortable calling. Thanks to social media (namely Facebook), I have kept in touch with numerous friends from high school who I otherwise would have surely stopped talking to a month after graduation.

I can’t lie. I’m on Facebook a lot. I find it seems to magically pop up on my laptop screen when I just don’t want to read about 19th century theology any longer. And as I get more used to Twitter, I’m sure I’ll be spending more time there, too.

But just how much is too much?

In my case, I find I spend way more time on social networking sites when I am at school, avoiding homework than when I’m at home with my family or am busy with other activities. As long as I’m occupied with something else, I have no real need to check Facebook or Twitter. But when I’m at school, sitting in my room, staring at the wall I go right back to social media sites.

As social media grows and changes as everything does, it will be interesting to see its role in people’s lives. Will everyone be connected to social media sites at all times? Will Facebook and Twitter die out, only to be replaced by the next big thing? Only time will tell. But I’m betting social media isn’t going anywhere for quite awhile.

Blogs: Useful in many ways

After looking at several blogs the past few months, I have come to realize how useful blogs can be for many different outlets. While some serve as online diaries, others discuss various forms of entertainment or, as in this particular case, some inform readers of specific types of news.

After looking at a few different recommended public relations blogs, I found myself gravitating toward PRNewser and Brian Solis’ blog. Both these blogs informed readers of important pieces of news to note in the field.

Another thing I appreciated about these two blogs in particular is their use of tags. As blogs delivering news, both refer to other news sites or previous blog posts–and tag frequently for the convenience of readers.

While Brian Solis’ blog focuses on many different topics, I was particularly struck with his thoughts on social media. In one post, he talks about the importance of planning in regards to use of social media. He argues that not planning ahead will result in failure, and that social media includes a lot more than just Facebook and Twitter.

Another post I particularly enjoyed included several pie charts exploring the demographics of Facebook and Twitter users. I was not surprised to see that most users on both Facebook and Twitter are young, or that the majority of them do not have children at home; however, I was surprised by how many users on both sites have higher education. These charts were both interesting and informative, and got me thinking more about both social networking sites.

PRNewser focuses more on mainstream news, but also talks about ties between the news and social media. One article I found interesting looked into PR’s role in the recent Tunisian presidential scandal. Protests that led their president to flee the country have been organized and publicized through social media, proving to me just how interconnected PR, news and social media are.

I found the PRNewser blog to be easy to read and relevant to my major and interests. One post looks into the audio industry’s slow recovery after an incredible decline, while another explains how the Golden Globes have been sued by its former publicists. Even if the topics would not normally be of interest to me, I really appreciate how PRNewser ties PR and news together in a straightforward fashion.

Both blogs were useful to me and my special interest in news and public relations. Even though they have their differences, both effectively get the message across and left me well-informed.