Using Social Media Personally and Professionally

Last year I sat down with my adviser and set up a graduation plan. I could have arranged to graduate this spring, but I didn’t feel like I’d be ready for the “real world” that soon. I will instead be graduating Spring 2013, and I am happy to say that although my skills have improved immensely over the past year, I still feel that graduating next year is a good idea. Both in school and in my internship, one of my biggest difficulties has been learning to effectively use social media in a way that balances personal interests with career-type interests.

Mashable recently had an article, “9 Ways Students Can Use Social Media to Boost Their Careers“, which I found incredibly helpful. I have heard most of these suggestions before, but being able to read them and perhaps read a second time is helpful to me. Take a look at the article, but I’ll tell you the three that stood out most to me.

First, it is okay to still post personal stuff! If you’re a student and only posting career-related stuff it can make you seem unapproachable. Everyone knows that you’re going to have real-life friends as connections on Twitter or elsewhere, “but refining your language, highlighting content and information that’s more career-focused, and connecting and conversing with more people outside your immediate group of friends signifies that you’re interested in more than just the personal.”

This can remain true even when trying to be more professional! I also just wanted another post with a Dr. Seuss quote.

When I’m interacting with my family and friends, I tend to be heavy on sarcasm. Every now and then I come across someone who doesn’t understand it and I make a mental note to keep things straight-forward. I’ve been hesitant to be sarcastic online because of some past experiences with text messaging where people thought I was serious and that was 381% not the case; the problem with text is that there is no tone of voice. Anyway this article is clear that sarcasm is just fine if it’s something you would say to someone face-to-face; likewise if you would not say something face-to-face do not say it. Luckily for me, I’m generally a nice person and don’t say mean things :-)

Something I need to do more, and am encouraged to do so now that I’ve read this article, is interact with professionals online. It gives you a better understanding of the area, but also showcases that you already have a base knowledge and interpersonal skills. Interacting with professionals can even (will according to the article) get you a “once-over” from possible future employers.

I like social media, and I’ve learned SO much over the past year about how to use it effectively. The article on Mashable made me feel confident that I’m mostly doing it right, and good suggestions on how to improve my efforts. I hope you all learned something, too!

Extreme Savings… Great PR

At some point in 2008 I started noticing updates on Facebook from a friend in North Carolina all about how much money she had been saving with coupons. As time went by, and she learned more about combining coupons, the total amount saved grew to be unbelievable.

Desirae Young started using coupons in 2007 to stretch each dollar for her family. She now spends just $150 each month on food for her family of 3, and even has a stock room with everything from non-perishable foods to extra laundry detergent and cough syrup. She’s set for pretty much anything, and donates a lot of food and supplies to various people and groups.

Proof of one of Desirae's incredible shopping trips. Amount spent: $0.32, amount saved: $382.35

Desirae acquired a fairly large following of people on Facebook and would occasionally have contests with various prizes- from coupon books to video games- to give away. She has always been great about interacting with her followers and providing them with a lot of valuable information about couponing.

In 2011 she made an appearance on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing.” Her Facebook page now has more than 22,000 followers and she has been featured on her local news, as well as recently being on the show “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” (see it here).

Extreme Savings With Diva Desirae has changed quite a bit from when I first saw it in 2008, but is now a treasure trove of links to daily deals and printable coupons, giveaways and freebies. There is a link to “Coupon 101” for people who are beginners. She also has a YouTube channel with explanations to frequent questions and other information about some of her own shopping trips.

Desirae has done a wonderful job of maintaining her own public relations, even with the rapid increase in followers and amount of questions asked each day. She always has a positive attitude and is encouraging to people, reminding them that becoming an “extreme” couponer doesn’t happen over night.

By effectively managing her social media, Desirae is able to help people as well as maintain her reputation as a coupon expert.

Be the high flier! Know your audience.

All through college we students are told to do as much as we can to make resumés stand out to future employers. Internships, school groups, volunteering… anything to show that person who has likely just looked at twenty or more other resumés that you have something to contribute everyone else does not.

This is sound advice, but can also be incredibly intimidating. There’s always that one person in your class who you know is more creative, volunteers somewhere, and probably has at least three skills you don’t even know exist that show up on their resumé. That person makes you feel like the guy in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” who was a high flier but his air balloon got caught in a tree.

With a world of competition, what can one need to do to really stand out?

One guy decided that the best thing he could do was write a blog post all about why he was the best candidate. Not only did he land the job, it caught media attention and got people asking whether the blog was a good idea or not (one example here). There are opinions on both sides; some say it was a great idea and allowed him to show off his knowledge, but on the other hand if a company says to turn in an application and resumé… that’s what you should do.

I think that, given the position, it made sense for him call on their attention in a nontraditional way. The company he was applying to, Radian6, manages and monitors social media. He used their own devices to show off his knowledge of social media and give examples of why he would be a good fit for their company. He’s that guy in your class.

In the world of Public Relations it’s important to know how to reach your audience. You can have the best message in the world and get zero results if you’re not using the right outlet. Not everyone is going to land their dream job by writing a blog post about it… sometimes it will need to be a blog post AND an impeccable resumé. If you know your audience, you’ll know what to do.

Parents: Quit Hovering

I have always appreciated my parents. They’re both wonderful in their own (very different) ways, and for the most part allowed me to make decisions independently while growing up with an occasional nudge to the left or the right if I seemed to stray. That said, it hasn’t been until the last year or two that I’ve learned my generation is known for having “helicopter parents.” I thought those were only in movies, or inflicted on the rare unfortunate soul, until numerous teachers at the UO started telling stories of parents calling to inquire about their child’s grade… and I was horrified on behalf of whoever that other student might be.

This article from NPR is all about helicopter parents, and how they have not only infiltrated my generations schooling, but are moving on to their careers with them as well! One story tells of an intern whose mother called to inform the employer of “how talented her son was, and how he deserved much more [compensation], and that he could make much more money outside of this position.”

In my imagination there is a woman hanging out the other side, frantically shouting questions through a microphone at her son who is attempting an escape via jet ski.

Apparently stories like this are common enough that many schools and companies have developed “Parent Relations” within their Public Relations departments. Again I must express my embarrassment for the guys and gals my age whose parents are the cause of this addition to our world. I can almost-sort-of grasp a parent calling about a grade if, you know, the student was incredibly ill and hadn’t been able to talk for two weeks or something. But really, by hovering around as close to 24/7 as possible, what do parents expect their kids to grow up to “be”, aside from incapable or as far away as possible?

I’m proud of the public relations people who realized something needed to be done for these helicopter parents, hopefully most of them did not have to deal with too crazy of a parent before that happened. Parent relations are a good idea at colleges anyway since many parents assist their kids in paying for school. However, to the parents showing up to job interviews on their kids behalf… It’s time to let them grow up- surely all of your hovering has formed them into a decent person.

McDonald’s could learn from Domino’s.

About two weeks ago McDonald’s launched a Twitter hashtag that had less than favorable results. #McDStories, which they hoped would bring up all kinds of happy, fun memories at McDonald’s instead brought up a number of bad stories. Quoting one tweeter, “the hashtag became a bashtag”. Here are a few:

PRNewser had an article about this ordeal, “McDonald’s Had A ‘Contingency Plan’ For Twitter Promo Gone Awry“. The article explains that McDonald’s knew that having an open-ended campaign could potentially spread stories they didn’t want people hearing about, so the hashtag was promoted for less than 2 hours. The author goes on to complain that rather than just pulling the promotion, McDonald’s should take the opportunity to acknowledge there are numerous issues in their stores that need correction.

Specifically, the author uses Domino’s as an example. In 2009 two employees made a video about all of the nasty things they do to food. Domino’s knew they had to do something to recover and re-branded themselves. They launched a “Making it right” campaign that included a website, showusyourpizza.com, for customers to post photos of the pizza they receive from Domino’s. There are also commercials showing the CEO and others delivering new pizza’s to customers who posted photos of less than desirable pizza.

A statement from Rick Wion, the companies social media director, seems proud that the hashtag was not up longer than it was, and says that because they caught it only 2% of tweets regarding McDonald’s that day included #McDStories. There were still more than 1,600 tweets that were mostly unfavorable. Ignoring stories of rats, broken teeth, and food poisoning will do very little to help the companies public relations- especially the fact that there have been no apologies made to those people.

Twitter can be a highly useful tool for companies, but McDonald’s is only asking for stories instead of interacting with their customers. An apology through Twitter is worth much more than no apology at all, and McDonald’s failed to acknowledge their mistakes in any way besides stopping the promotion of #McDStories.

Pinning is “Nothing But Good”

A short background…


I was introduced to Pinterest about 5 months ago. My brother’s girlfriend had been going on about how fun it was, and shortly after I discovered one of my coworkers was also an addict. It wasn’t long before I heard girls on campus talking about pinning things. One night when I was house sitting and totally bored I decided I’d find out what exactly Pinterest is, and why all these girls were so obsessed with it.

In the sites own words, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”

Initially after creating my boards I thought it was really silly, but treated it like Twitter and gave it a shot anyway (note* I still think Twitter is a silly place, but I get it now). I won’t call myself obsessed, but I go on Pinterest at least once a day now, if for no other reason than to see what other people are looking at.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that people, places, recipes, clothing, and all kinds of things were getting an incredible amount of exposure through Pinterest because of how simple it is to click the “repin” button. That said…

Chobani Greek Yogurt might be one of the best things ever. Their slogan, “Nothing but good.” is only wrong in that I would say “great”, or maybe “fantastic”, because every time I have it I’m just so incredibly satisfied and happy. It’s SO good-great-fantastic (go get some). In addition to being delicious I’ve been impressed with Chobani’s social media presence, especially their use of it for public relations. On Facebook and Twitter they’re always quick to respond and interact with people. On occasion people have purchased yogurts that ended up being moldy, and they were always compensated with vouchers and apologized to- often within an hour (or much less) of posting.

I recently discovered Chobani’s official Pinterest page.

Chobani is using Pinterest as a way to interact with the people who already love their yogurt, and to get recipes that use their product out for addicts and newbies to see. The board “Choboniac Creations” is entirely dedicated to showing off recipes that use greek yogurt that have been shared by people who love Chobani. By linking back to the person’s blog, it’s a win-win in that both the blogger and Chobani are getting more attention.

I love Chobani, and I basically love Pinterest. Both are wonderful in their own ways and have definitely contributed to the happiness of thousands of people, myself included, by being a fun little addition to life. Why not combine the two?