Social Networking Sites Are More Important Than You Think

October 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Maggie Ashworth
mashworth@smu.edu

Five years ago, Facebook was popping up in high schools across the country and Twitter was practically unheard of. Today there is an entire facet of careers dedicated to the world of social networking.

Last night, as a part of the Hegi Career Center’s Social Media Week, five Dallas professionals gathered in the Hughes-Trigg Forum to discuss the importance of social media jobs with SMU students. The Careers in Social Media event featured panelists that log onto social networking sites on a regular basis- and get paid for it.

The panel included Laura Stillo, social media producer for YouPlusDallas, Mike Merrill, director of marketing at ReachLocal, Brian Conway, who handles the social and digital media for Weber Shandwick, Kendall Shiffler, social networking and marketing associate for Lower Oak Lawn, and Jessica Nunez, owner of Nunez PR Group.

Although the panelists work for businesses ranging from modern digital journalism to real estate and public relations companies, each receives large amounts of traffic and attention as a result of social media.

These social media professionals covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from appropriate subjects to post on Twitter and personal blogs, to knowing where to draw the line between personal and professional social media.

As black and white as it may seem, today’s college students are still posting unsuitable pictures and information about themselves across the World Wide Web, regardless of the fact that future bosses will have access to this information. Mike Merrill believes it’s best not to blur the lines.

“Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see,” Merrill said.

Although Twitter might seem like an appropriate place to tell the world about your horrendous hangover, it’s better to tweet about what’s going on in the world, or topics that are relevant to your areas of interest.

Employers want to see your creative writing ability and input on current events, but spare them the details of your crazy nights out

“Brand yourself online well,” Stillo said.

The importance of “careful” blogging was strongly emphasized by each panelist.

Nunez, who own’s her own PR firm, clarified that blogging experience is important, but it means nothing unless the subject matter is relevant.

“We tell you to blog, and then you go out and blog about your life, and then I know too much,” Nunez said. “Blog about something that you care about and that interests you, just don’t tell us about your weekend on Knox-Henderson.”

The subject of a blog can be helpful or hurtful and the first step to understanding proper blogging is to look at your blog as a representation of yourself. Panelist Laura Stillo took this approach, and it helped her land her current job.

Stillo, who graduated from SMU in 2009, used her blog from an advertising class to demonstrate her writing ability and it got her a job interview at YouPlusDallas.

By showcasing her initiative to find interesting information, as well as her unique writing style throughout her blog, YouPlusDallas saw Stillo as an exceptional job candidate. Traits such as writing ability and experience can’t be explained on a resume, but a blog can convey that information.

According to the panelists, blogging and internships are the way to demonstrate one’s ability, and that’s what makes job applicants stand out. When it comes to blogging, the panelists told students that there are several ways to approach beginning a blog.

Merrill urged that WordPress.com is the ultimate domain site for those who are ready to become dedicated, serious bloggers. But, for beginner bloggers who want to start out slow, he recommends reading Problogger.com or Copyblogger.com for tips on better blogging.

As far as internships go, Nunez feels that experience as an intern is essential for resume building and will pay off in the long run.

“It’s like the accessory to your outfit,” Nunez said. “Your degree is your dress, accessorize it with your internships.”

Tips on Building Your Own Brand, From The Expert

September 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Mike D. Merrill Speaks at Social Media Workshop from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Video by Aida Ahmed / Editing by Aida Ahmed and Andy Garcia

Mike D. Merrill, president of the Social Media Club of Dallas and director of marketing at ReachLocal, spoke to SMU students, staff and professionals in the fields of journalism and public affairs at the Social Media Workshop at SMU’s Division of Journalism on Saturday. During his presentation, Merrill talked about how to build your personal brand on the social web using tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and your own domain. The workshop was presented by the Press Club of Dallas and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Jessica Nuñez and Victoria Harres

The Social Media Workshop at SMU's Division of Journalism on Saturday included guest speakers Jessica Nuñez (left), owner of Nuñez PR Group, and Victoria Harres, director of audience development for PR Newswire. Nuñez and Harres shared tips on how social media can help public relations professionals connect with reporters online and distribute clients' messages to a wider audience. (PHOTO BY AIDA AHMED / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The workshop also included guest speakers Jessica Nuñez, owner of Nuñez PR Group, and Victoria Harres, director of audience development for PR Newswire. Nuñez and Harres shared tips on how social media can help public relations professionals connect with reporters online and distribute clients’ messages to a wider audience.

The opening panel focused on how to use social media as a journalistic tool. In this audio file, SMU digital journalism professor Jake Batsell introduces Theodore Kim, staff writer for The Dallas Morning News, and Mike Orren, founder of Pegasus News, each of whom shared social media strategies and practical tools for reporters: