Experience with social media, if correctly applied, is beneficial when applying for positions in the public relations industry. Having knowledge of social media platforms prior to being hired means less time the employer spends training how to effectively use social media. The question is – what platforms will be most beneficial to up-and-coming public relations students? As a self-proclaimed social media junkie, I have analyzed the who’s who of social media.
1. Facebook – Facebook is used by more than 400 million to keep in contact with friends, both near and far. It is fairly simple to use and just as simple to use incorrectly. The most common mistake made by PR students using social media is that their pages lack professionalism. Their profiles are littered with drunken pictures and vulgar language, yet they are surprised when prospective employers don’t find them professional. I think the most effective way Facebook can be used by public relations students is to pause before you post. Ask yourself, “Would my mother approve of this post?” If the answer if no, edit your post until you would get a thumbs-up from mom. If you use this as a rule of thumb (pun intended), you will generally have an office-approved page. Don’t forget about grammar either! Just because it is Facebook (or any social media platform) doesn’t mean the AP Stylebook goes out the window.
2. Twitter – Ah, Twitter. Twitter is slightly more limited than Facebook; you can only have 140 characters per post and don’t have things like photo albums like you would on Facebook or MySpace. This is where you can truly test your networking skills; the purpose of Twitter is sharing nuggets of information in a “tweet” so to have your followers “retweet” your post. It is a great way for PR students to dip their feet into the professional world of public relations and learn who the influential PR professionals are. The same rule of thumb applies here along with grammar. My advice is to follow a group of professionals; they post many great links to blog posts, articles, photos and more. I have a list on my Twitter that you are welcome to follow.
3. LinkedIn – Here is where we dive into the more professional world of social media. Facebook is used by countless businesses to promote their product or idea. LinkedIn is similar but more personal because its purpose is to promote an individual. LinkedIn is a website for those looking to find a job or network in any industry. You can post your resumé, list your skills and network with past or present colleagues along with possible employers. As a social media tool, LinkedIn is most beneficial to students looking for internships; however, networking is more difficult on this platform than on Twitter because many professionals don’t have a LinkedIn account because they are already established in a position. It is probably the most important social media platform to remember to revise, revise, revise!
4. MySpace – Finally, MySpace. I would consider this one of the first social media platforms to really influence Millennials. Similar to Facebook, MySpace is all about sharing your life through multimedia whether that be photos, videos or music. MySpace is used most effectively by undiscovered musicians, not public relations students trying to network. I have recently decided to delete my MySpace; I have had a page for nearly six years. I decided that it was adding nothing to my personal “brand” that couldn’t be found on the other three platforms. Personally, MySpace adds little to social media in terms of helping to advance the social media skills of PR practitioners.
So, what should you do? You now have a basic understanding of what I consider to be the four most important social media platforms for public relations students. Think about what you want your personal “brand” to be and how you want to be portrayed. Then, decide which fits your needs best. You can always have more than one, too. Good luck!
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on LinkedIn