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They Didn’t Teach Us That in School!

Comparing my formal education to the real world

Comparing my formal education to the real world

by Chelsea Wagner, intern, Text 100 Rochester

Prior to my Text 100 internship, my text book understanding of the value of social media bore little resemblance to my personal understanding of its value. I would have told you that I maintain active and (in my opinion) quite engaging presences on several social media channels.  But looking back on it, I realized I tweeted silly things that probably had no business being on the Internet for all the world to see. Case in point:

“@_chwagner: yay breakfast in bed! #oatmeal.”

Okay, so I am guilty of tweeting about what I had for breakfast and I am now well aware that I had NO BUSINESS doing so because I am neither Kim Kardashian nor Barack Obama – and even if they tweeted something like that, no one would really care. Mistake admitted. I’m sorry for my tweeting antics of the past. I hope you will forgive me.

Time to forge ahead in to the professional world of social networking. In these last three months I have been fully immersed in a setting surrounded by digital PR pros who put more thought into what they post on social networks than I’ve put into pretty much everything I’ve ever written. Whether it’s a pitch for a blog post, a tweet for a client’s handle, or just an update from their personal Twitter handles, these people have shown me the true meaning of “Don’t publish anything that you wouldn’t want splashed across the front page of the newspaper.” Once it’s published, there’s no going back – just ask a certain ex-congressman.

The value of social media is its ability to link an organization to its publics and allow for direct engagement, resulting in that sought-after two-way symmetrical relationship between a brand and its publics that we learned about in our PR 101 classes. What they don’t teach us, though, is the danger of engaging on social networks without fully considering what the impact posting that content might be. For me, I have to consider what my future employers (who inevitably will Google my name) are going to think when they browse my tweet stream – the same way a brand must keep in mind all of its various communities and audiences when sharing on Twitter to make sure they’re posting the most relevant updates. Through my time at Text 100 I’ve learned not only the importance of targeted engagement, but to remember to do so with strategic awareness.

*Photo credit: Flickr user Mays Business School.

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