Social Media (SM)…. To some people, it evokes feelings of excitement, intrigue, fun and an opportunity to socialize with friends and family. However, others are skeptical. They see it as a huge waste of time, an invasion of their privacy, the work of the Devil (I won’t even go into that! Just strike that statement…. the work of the Devil…. OK, I digress!).
Starting my career as a professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College this fall, I’m not surprised at how many of my students use SM. I’m surrounded by millennials, the primary users of SM. Facebook was originally created just for college students. Then us Gen Xer’s had to get in on the fun. So Millennials moved to Twitter, only to have news reporters and business professionals take it over. So now you’re off to Instagram and Snapchat and who knows where else. You are the pros of SM platforms!!
With all that said, I have found some college students have reduced or completely eliminated their use of the traditional platforms, and some students don’t use SM at all. However, I’m here to tell you to not abandon the traditional platforms. And if you’re not of SM at all, I’m here to tell you to get on SM.
Why? Why should college students waste their time with SM when you have so much on your plate already? Why should college students socialize virtually with family and friends when you can do that with phone calls, texts and visits? Well, it’s NOT the work of the Devil and there are huge, HUGE benefits for college students to use SM. That is what I’m here to tell you….
Recruitment Tactic by Most Businesses
I have spent several years working in administrative and leadership positions. I have hired people, and (unfortunately) I have fired people. I always did research on potential candidates being considered for a position, and one of the best resources was to scope them out on SM. I looked into the statistics on how many businesses actually use SM for the hiring process, and here are the surprising results I found according to research conducted in 2015 by Jobvite….
- To discover and evaluate potential candidates, 92% of businesses use SM
- The second most effective tactic used by recruiters to find candidates is SM
- LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the top three platforms used by recruiters
Now you can say to yourself…. “Self, I just won’t use SM, and they won’t find anything bad about me.” Or, you can say…. “Self, I need to be on these platforms, use them wisely and show that recruiter I’m the best candidate for the job!!” It’s your choice, but the latter is the smarter decision. It’s not my opinion. Look at the numbers, it’s a proven fact!
Learn from the Experts
I can lecture, explain theory and concepts, supply supporting material, assign projects to practice application, and give quizzes and exams until my students are blue in the face, but you will only learn as much as your brain can (or is willing to) learn. Following experts in your field and disciplines that complement your field will teach you things you will never learn in the classroom. Real-world experiences shared by the people who have lived it: What they did right, what they did wrong, how and why they made certain decisions, how they handled certain situations and so much more. Find these people, follow these people and learn from these people.
Network and Collaborate
While you’re learning from those experts, start asking them questions, get involved with their discussions and build a relationship with them. Us ‘older’ folks… the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers…. we want to help you succeed. We are here to support and guide you through all the uncertainties and concerns of joining the workforce. It can be scary out there and competition is fierce. You may never meet these people face-to-face, but eventually, they just might be willing to help you get a job and/or provide a good recommendation. The old saying…“It’s not what you know, but who you know” is very accurate in today’s world. A Wall Street Journal article stated,
“Leverage your expertise and begin to build your networks out today so when you graduate college you have a plethora of people to talk to for finding your first job…. The more people you know, the more doors that will open for you” (Jenkin, 2014).
I have used this strategy myself and have been fortunate to network with some awesome people. One of my favorites is a former WVU professor of mine, Dr. Karen Freberg. She is a professor at the University of Louisville, a respected expert in the field of social media, and author of several published articles and, most recently her first book. (Note to self…. Buy that book!)
While working on my Masters, I networked with her on SM. Over the years, she has helped me in several ways from giving me a referral for my current job, answering questions I had for a doctorate assignment or on course curriculum, and giving me quotes for blog posts via LinkedIn…..
“Social media not only allows you to connect with friends, but the professional opportunities are endless. This is the first place a lot of businesses, agencies, and professionals go to when looking for potential candidates. You need to take the time to invest in your personal brand and build your voice as an emerging professional. In addition, the power of networking on social media is one of the biggest benefits I see for young professionals. Even professors (like myself) have benefited from connecting with people online. Consulting jobs, internships for students, and even speaking engagements all were as a result of being active and present on social media. If you do a little bit each day to invest in your professional future on social media, the opportunities are endless.” Dr. Karen Freberg, 2016
Inspire the Next Generation
The last thing I want to discuss as a reason for college students to use SM is a topic that isn’t considered or talked about much. Now that you are in the adult world, you have a younger generation looking up to you for advice and guidance. Just like you are (or should be) looking to generations above you for advice and guidance. They’re watching you, and they see what you post on SM.
One day, you and your generation will be the leaders that run the world. You may be a business owner, a manager, a corporate executive, the CEO. Someday, a Millennial will become President of the United States. Who knows, that could be YOU!! Whatever tomorrow has in store for you, learn how to be a leader now. Transformational leadership, the more popular theory used today, requires leaders to interact with, empower, encourage and inspire their followers. Being a college student, your followers right now is the generation coming up behind you. Show them how to do it right so they, too, will be professional and successful.
By the way, now that I’ve explain WHY college students should be on SM, Part 2 of this series will cover HOW college students should use SM. Watch for it soon for more guidance and advice. You don’t want to miss it! Until then…. share your thoughts….
What I have offered doesn’t cover all the reasons why college students should use SM. What are other reasons WHY college students should be active on it??
Freberg, K. (2016, September 3). Assistant Professor in Strategic Communications. (K. Conrad, Interviewer)
Jenkin, T. (2014, August 4). Why college students should build their social-media connections. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2014/08/04/why-college-students-should-build-their-social-media-connections/
Jobvite. (2015). Jobvite’s New 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey Reveals Talent Crunch – 95% of Recruiters Anticipate Similar or Increased Competition for Skilled Workers in the Coming Year; 86% Expect to Expand Hiring. Retrieved from http://www.jobvite.com/press-releases/2015/jobvites-new-2015-recruiter-nation-survey-reveals-talent-crunch/