I’m giving my age away slightly when I say social media did not exist when I was in college. Facebook and Twitter were just a twinkle in the eyes of their creators. Email was a novelty, our computers were DOS, and professors warned that the Internet was not a reliable resource. We didn’t text, only rich people had cell phones, and we didn’t think very highly of a company called Apple.
Being self employed, I must have a social media presence, and I do, but social media is not my favorite business activity. I find it daunting and confusing. I’ve always known my lack of social media education meant I wasn’t showcasing myself as a writer and entrepreneur in the best possible light. That’s why I recently completed a certificate course through Poynter News University called Social Media for Journalists.
The course had six parts:
- Strategies and Tools for News: This section is an overview of the various social media sites, statistics, how to use keywords and searches, analytics, and scheduling posts.
- Social Media Writing: How to compose posts and engage audiences.
- Tools and Techniques: This section talks about best practices and how to drive traffic to a website using social media.
- Twitter as a Reporting Tool: Ways to use Twitter to find sources, break stories and see what people are talking about.
- Facebook for Reporting and Storytelling: Similar to Twitter, only tailored for Facebook.
- Tumblr for Journalists: What it is and how to use it.
I learned I’m using social media more along the lines of old-school news institutions and that I need to work more on engagement. I’ve been somewhat successful with engagement on Twitter, but ever since Facebook added its news feed algorithm, I feel the site is a lost cause. I joined Google+ and Pinterest too recently to judge, but I have a very small following there and I don’t see any signs it will increase.
It will take some practice before I master the new skills I learned in the course. I use HootSuite to schedule posts, so it’s too late to implement the new techniques for the posts in the queue. Perhaps I will focus more on Twitter in 2015 as opposed to stretching myself too thin, trying to keep up with all the various social networks.
Social media, whether we like it or not, is here to stay. What are your thoughts on social media? Is it a fun hobby or a necessary evil?