Like many professionals in the nonprofit or education sectors, I am an avid and regular user of social media. Nonetheless, I utilize social media strategically. I limit my time and usage on social media as well — I endeavor to engage fruitfully with others, network, answer correspondence, and promote my own portfolio or that of my client(s). My “word of the wise” is that while it is worthwhile to maintain a presence on social media for career as well as for SEO purposes, the fact remains that social media is oversaturated and can be a waste of time without some foresight. A simple contemplation of one’s intended audience and also of one’s motivation for being on social media permits the user to bypass much of the nonsense and negativity that prevails across all platforms. Lest we forget the honest truth that social media remains no substitute for being social as well.
When I socialize with my colleagues in public relations, many are surprised to find out that I only use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram on a consistent basis. Although I have held onto my old accounts at Facebook, Pinterest, and Reddit, I don’t use them precisely because they don’t fit my needs as a communications professional. There was a time when I did utilize them, but over the course of my professional development, I came to the realization that I didn’t receive much in return compared to the time I had put into them. Although Facebook, Pinterest, and Reddit are useful to many, there was no ROI in my case. The rhetorical question I pose to my colleagues is thus “Why use a platform that doesn’t work for me or advance professional ambitions?” It’s best to use a social media platform that yields a constant reward. There is no need to bother with the others. Use the platform that works best for you rather than wasting time on others that do not.
“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” ~ David Alston
Social media burst into our lives in the mid-2000s, and many still believe that social media is the best means of networking, promoting a product, or meeting new people. The enduring popularity of platforms like LinkedIn, Tinder, and Instagram attest that there is some salient truth in all of this. Over my years at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), I was keen on meeting professionals that shared my interests and exchanging ideas with them. This goal remains my primary rationale in still using social media.
In the past decade, LinkedIn (for networking) and Twitter (for exchange and information) haven the proven the most useful in all that I wish to do. This is because LinkedIn is a community designed for professional exchange and because Twitter is widely used by media and research professionals. It was through LinkedIn, in fact, that I first communicated with AHE’s CEO and Founder, and I got my first position within the nonprofit company. Through Twitter, I have networked further, making useful, lifelong connections. I held steadfast to my initial objective, and I never deviated from it. (Nota bene: My Instagram account is private; this is sole platform that I use for “staying in touch” or sharing snippets of my personal life with close friends and family.)
Despite the reward, social media remains no substitute for being “social,” and I cannot stress this enough. While I marvel at the impact social media has exerted on how we socialize at the present, there remains no better way to connect with someone than through a face-to-face conversation or a meaningful dialogue over a cup of coffee. The best relationships are built, solidified, and maintained in this way.
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