Sunday, March 30, 2014

Career Advice: The Importance of Social Media

By Nikki Zaidan

“Position yourself…learn the [social media] tools,” advised Mark Durney, a speaker in the “More than Fun & Games: How Industry is Using Social Media” panel discussion presented by St. Thomas Aquinas College’s Advanced Public Relations class on March 20. Durney, a graduate of Trinity College and son of STAC Provost John Durney, spoke to students about the importance of using social media in their careers.

Durney, Director of Social Media at Havas Worldwide Strat Farm, joined STAC alumni Michael Fasano, Ryan Finch, Elizabeth Kaminski, and Sophia Salis in providing valuable advice on how vital certain social media applications are becoming in one’s career.

Asked about the single most important impact social media has on the corporate world, “[People are] embracing the quickness of information flow,” said Salis, the Employee Communications Manager of Orange & Rockland Utilities. With easy access to the Internet and Social Media platforms, people are now able to “define ourselves,” she added.

Today, millions of people use the Internet as a tool for communication in their daily lives, and many companies rely on the Internet in order to contact their customers and gain new attention. “[Social Media] is a great way to reach someone. Social media is, by definition, user driven content. It is the best way for our company to reach out quickly and easily,” said Fasano, Director of Investments at Oppenheimer & Co Inc. and owner of an online magazine called Golfcity.

The social media tools focused on and often used in many careers today, the speakers noted, include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Google Analytics, and LinkedIn.

Finch stresses the importance of Google Analytics, which helps him and his company “tell where people came from,” in terms of online traffic to his company’s website; he also included that “[knowing how to use Google Analytics] will put you light-years ahead of people going into business.”

Salis discussed how one can use social media, like LinkedIn, to his or her advantage in order to create an identity. In her work as an Employee Communications Manager, Salis said, “The platforms allow us to define ourselves as employees.”

An internet networking tool that many students at STAC already use, LinkedIn, allows people to “connect in a new way” and is becoming “a huge [way] we build new business,” according to Finch.

Finch, who works for Wild Frog Studio as a Client Services and Content Marketing Associate, stressed how companies have to put forth a “constant effort” through their social media outlets in order to get more business. He also noted how important it is to “understand the business and audience, as well as what they are looking for [in a business].”

As a Publicist Assistant who works at Wunderkind PR, Kaminski focuses on “maintaining a relationship with users, so they can share information with others,” which would ultimately bring more attention to the business she works for. Interaction with customers is very important as it can mean the difference between selling a book or not, explained Kaminski.

Another main piece of advice from the panelists included the importance of “[having] a separation between ‘for fun’ social media and ‘for work’ social media,” Kaminski added.

Although this panel focused on using the Internet and social media in business, Salis brought up the idea that “social media isn’t everything.” Ultimately, businesses want their audience to pay attention to them and buy their products, but it is important to understand that “[Social Media] is engagement, it’s a story [that] has to have substance.” So, Salis advises, “Say something when you have something to say and not just to say it.”

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