Social Networking is the bee’s knees

We are just starting to learn the impact of what social media can do for our profession and how it can help the company we will work for in the future. Some of us see it as a burden to be tweeting or writing a blog post, but at the end of the day, it may put us ahead in the game with our competition. A blog that supports social media, is “Communication Overtones,” written by Kami Huyse, PR professional in Houston, Texas. Huyse doesn’t just simple write that social media is great and you need to use it within your company, but instead she gives both sides, the negative and positive sides of using social media.

We hear the word “social media” all the time, but what is it? Why is it important to obtain the skills now while we are learning about our profession? Bryan Eisenberg, who is the co-founder of FutureNow, which according to their web site, is a “provider of the OnTarget™ software-as-a-service, which monitors your website 24/7. Eisenberg believes that social media” are platforms for interaction and relationships, not content and ads.” This makes sense because social media consist of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs. These tools all interact with the audiences and form relationships with more people. It allows for two-way communication by comments or emails. There is a constant flow of conversations through these forms of social media. However, content is important too. You must keep your audience interested and by doing so you continue with the content that they enjoy learning and interacting with.

In the article, from “Communication Overtones”, entitled “Building Buzz with Social Media Using Swarming and BEES,” Huyse relates social media as a beehive. The analogy works “from a communication perspective” as Huyse writes. So how can you be more efficient in your social media skills, Huyse uses this BEES analogy to explain.

B Build: You want to build content that is interesting and connected. Huyse says that a company may have all these accounts – Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t connect and aren’t on the same page. Building them to be connected and work together, and have similar content, but distributes the information differently and yet builds an interest to each of the sources, is important and smart.

E Eavesdrop: You have to listen to the different communities for what kind of content is necessary and will allow the community to get the most from. Huyse writes, “Each community has a distinct culture, to be effective, one has to learn this culture and speak in its own language.”

E Echo: Make sure the content that you are sending out to these communities “echo” what the community finds important or “interesting.” Such as retweeting, linking to blogs, or other links in facebook posts. She writes that the content shouldn’t be all the same, but be on the same page and in communication with each other.

S Socialize: The content on these different communities much be able to allow the audience to socialize about it. Socializing means actually engaging conversation and that might even mean hiring someone to do the engaging and overall handling the social media, as Huyse put it.

I truly believe that companies that are hiring someone to handle the social media instead of actually just setting automatic adds on Twitter or automatic responses to comments, allows a company to gain a following. Social media creates a relationship with communities and even stakeholders in the PR world. I feel certain PR companies or even companies in general forget that interacting and engaging with the audience is important. That starting a blog and continuing with weekly updates or updating Facebook or Twitter can really create a following and get their name or accomplishment out there and may even help them in a crisis.

So is important to continue to teach these skills in journalism programs across the world? Should there be more courses for Public Relation majors that help develop this than just simply teaching a quick blog lesson or a Twitter lesson in an online media course? The web is changing so quickly, that Web 2.0 may quickly develop into Web 2.5 or Web 3.0.  Is it important for companies to continue with social media or even find a way to develop it? If they decide to add it to their plan, how should they go about it?

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8 Responses to Social Networking is the bee’s knees

  1. Dawn Gilpin says:

    This is a really well thought out post, Nathalie, and a great topic. Make another editing pass to check for things like run-on sentences (particularly in the second paragraph). Another important point is terminology. We’ll go over these in class, but here’s a quick run-down:

    - a “blog” is the overall site of dynamic content. In this case, “Communication Overtones”;
    - each self-contained entry or article in a blog is called a “post,” sometimes additionally qualified as a “blog post” if it’s not clear from context where the content was published.

    But overall, a very solid first post.

  2. Britnee says:

    I definitely feel that social media should be stressed more in the J-schools. I know technology is changing everyday but I would have loved a few more lessons about the power of Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I don’t even feel like the school I attend introduced me to these networks. It was through my own efforts in my internships that I learned about them. I would hope that the public relations classes would offer more in the area of social media promotion, branding and development.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. bgansar says:

    I think that people don’t realize the power of having a company blog, twitter, facebook- it personifies an organization, gives it a face and a personality. Hiring someone to be in charge of these social media is smart and may be very misunderstood in the public eye. Not everyone realizes the importance of relationships in being successful. In PR it is a main concept and we work hard to maintain and make relationships. Social media has now made it that much easier for us!

  4. sferrer says:

    I absolutely agree with your viewpoint and the BEES analogy 100 percent! Social media is still on the back burner yet Twitter and the blog community is still a fairly new concept and not mainstream yet. I wonder if social media will only last as a trend or is here to stay? People who were born in the Generation Y era, like myself, are the savvy Internet users and have YouTube and Facebook accounts. Until the baby boomers retire and my generation enters the workforce, I think Social Media will reach its prime. I signed up for my own Facebook and Twitters accounts because of my own personal interest. I was completely naïve of the building power these platforms have. Social media should be stressed more in journalism/public relations programs. As my generation becomes the leaders of the near future, the companies we will be working for will heavily depend on social media to maintain and create relationships.

  5. glindsay says:

    I think that a social media course would be incredibly helpful for PR students, as it is most definitely in high demand at the moment. However, how long WILL social media be in high demand before the new “flavor-of-the-month” is found?

    When I picture the “perfect PR program,” I see it as a living, breathing and changing environment. If we are to keep up with the changing PR world around us, our school environment needs to change as well.

    While studying how PR has historically been performed in the past should be an important foundational focus for students, I think it is also important to also mix in courses that focus on current and future trends, tools and best-practices in the PR world.

  6. wwillis says:

    First of all- great title for your blog post this week. It definitely got me interested! I also feel it is important for companies to have some one dedicated to utilizing social media for the company in a way that allows them to establish relationships and start conversations. It is true that in our field creating dicussion with others is important in so many ways. Personally, I feel more time and effort should be dedicated to teaching these skills to j-students across the country. With the dynamic nature of the Web, this information is always changing, and we should be up-to-date on the changes as they occur.

  7. ncano says:

    Dr. Gilpin – thank you for the suggestions, I will remember these next post.

    Britnee – I agree. I heard about Twitter from the internet and Facebook right before I came to college and LinkedIn thanks to other jobs that I have had as well. I think the Online Media class is starting to incorporate social media now, thanks to Dr. Gilpin for her presentations.

    Brittany – I couldn’t agree with you more. Social media has helped us in the PR profession. I am glad that I am able to talk about the different social media skills I have learned on my own through various positions or through certain classes. I think it helps advance us when we go off to apply for jobs after graduation. We know how to write a blog post and maintain a blog as well do Twitter updates and update our company’s Facebook profile. It’ll help better us and maybe even put us ahead of our competition.

    Stephanie- I think social media could be here to stay, or just continue to develop into something new and different. It’s a platform that will can possibly expand, in what direction? I’m not sure. If I had the answer for that I would be selling it. It’s kind of like Friendster, it was before Facebook and lasted so long, before Myspace and Facebook came to be. It seems like social media will continue to develop, but into what, I don’t know. I think it’s harder for the older generations to learn about social media and how to maintain it in the company, which I told Brittany, that may work in our advantage for the time being. Now if social media decides to just die tomorrow, then we may not have that advantage anymore, but for the time being, I agree with you, it’s important to stress the importance of it now to the upcoming generations and even teach in the Cronkite school.

    Greg – Again, Stephanie, has that same idea, “how long will social media be around?” Who’s to say, but again I think we are at an advantage with having some knowledge of using these tools and hopefully advancing future companies we will work for with social media. I agree with you on mixing in courses that are current. I still feel that print and broadcast majors have an advantage in certain journalism programs. We are able to take three classes here at the Cronkite school, but at some universities that have PR programs as well they offer five – seven courses. I think there needs to be courses that teach social media as well as some other PR topics that are important to our profession.

  8. edean says:

    This topic is very relevant to what we’ve been talking about and I love the “Bee” metaphor, it makes perfect sense. I think the importance of social media is often misunderstood among many large businesses and it is our job as PR professionals to help them understand the importance of creating and maintaining relationships. Also, there may be some companies adopt social media but don’t understand how to use it, which is equally as important.

    Additionally, I think effective communication is an art form and should be taught in schools, if not have individual classes for it. I also don’t think social media is going anywhere. The only changes will be something more advanced and accessible.

    Good post!

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