Posted by Tauhid Chappell | Posted in Commentary | Posted on 05-06-2010
Thank you to Kevin Loker and Kaitlin Flanigan for responding to my emails and allowing me to quote you guys in my blog post! You guys understand the importance of Twitter and as a result, it encourages me to learn more about this social networking site and it inspires me to try and persuade other college students to join Twitter.
A BIG THANK YOU to Dr. Leslie-Jean Thornton (the assistant professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication)! Thank you so much for reading over this blog post and suggesting some things that I could add to it. These [great] suggestions really improved the quality of this post. Also, thank you for helping edit this post Onto the good stuff! Enjoy
Part 2: Why Twitter is important and relevant to college students.
Social Media at a glance. Twitter falls under “Social Networks.” Courtesy of FredCavazza.net
This post is probably the most important part of my three-part Twitter series. In part 1 of my Twitter series, I explained how Twitter differs from other social media outlets. I focused on what made it different from popular social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. There are some key differences that separates Twitter from other sites, and I highly suggest you read part 1 so you can get a glimpse of what makes Twitter unique.
Part 2 will explain why Twitter is important, and relevant, to college students. Twitter helps connect students with people from around the world, it helps connect students with professionals in the “real world,” it helps link students with different organizations, it unites students with other students and it can help strengthen a college student’s resumé. Continue to read and find out what you’re missing out on.
Twitter Connects College Students With People All Around the World
Twitter has exposed me to so many different people with a wide range of backgrounds. I’ve met people hailing from Oregon all the way to Australia. It’s amazing to follow and interact with both students and professionals from different places, and it’s even more amazing when you find that you share similar interests! The “Twitterverse,” a popular term that refers to the “universe” of Twitter, and also a Twitter tool, contains more than 105 million users according to Mashable.com and businessinsider.com. Both reference the developer conference that Twitter had on April 14, 2010.
105 million people…That’s a decent amount of people! Think of how many users are from different towns, cities, states and countries! There’s a lot to learn from other people in different places in the world, and Twitter is a great site to connect and learn about what’s going on in others lives’ and in their area.
Tying in with learning, with all the people that there is to follow, some things I’ve personally learned (thanks to Twitter) have been specific events that happened in places that I would have never known otherwise. Check this out (—>), Justin Herman, Community Manager for the Social Media Club and also New Hampshire’s SMC chapter president, was on scene of a bomb scare in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He tweeted and even provided a live stream from his phone! I would have never known such an event had taken place if I wasn’t following Justin.
These types of events, some even more serious like the failed Time Square bombing, happen all over the country (and the world for that matter); and there are people who tweet on the scene of all sorts of incidents. These people are able to spread details of an event faster than news sites such as CNN or New York Times can, which is a powerful and an important function of Twitter: it allows for faster distribution of all types of news. News that ranges from hard news, to entertainment, to gossip, to promotions and even advancers on events that will happen in the future (like tweetups, sales or festivals). Twitter is actually where I find a lot of my news; especially news about social media and student journalism.
“A study came out shows 47 percent of people who go to Twitter are looking for news,” said Dr. Leslie-Jean Thornton, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, at the Virginia Press Association/Associated Press Conference in Roanoke. This data caters to news organizations and people who are interested in communicating to the world.
“[Twitter is] incredibly useful for leads on breaking news and messages that are important to get out to students quickly,” says Kevin Loker who’s a student at George Mason University and the executive editor for Connect2Mason. “It provided important leads during [George Mason's] recent chemical scare, for instance. Look to events like the Times Square car bomb attempt, or uprisings in Iran. Twitter was more than useful in tracking what was happening in these situations, and that sort of thing isn’t going to change,” Loker stated.
Twitter may be a social networking site, but it also functions as a site to gather and share news. “I have learned about every major earthquake of 2010, Michael Jackson’s death, the airplane crash in Austin and so much more via Twitter. Yes, there is a lot of spam out there; however, if you’re smart, you use Twitter to your advantage, as a resource for building your knowledge and even participating in distributing knowledge,” says Kaitlin Flanigan , a college student at Oregon State University and the news editor for the Daily Emerald.
Besides learning about different people and learning about news that may/may not be happening in your area, Twitter can help college students learn more about their career interests or the industry that they’re looking to go into. Specifically, Twitter can:
1) Connect college students with professionals in their specific career field.
2) Link college students with business organizations who have a Twitter account and are active and responsive to their followers.
3) Unite college students from different schools who are interested in the same field or who have similar majors.
Twitter Connects College Students with Professionals
What’s your major? What are some of your interests? With Twitter, you can search and find professional people who work in your areas of interest. Using “Browse Suggestions,” you can click on one of the many categories that Twitter offers to find people. I’ve noticed though that many who show up are famous/verified accounts, so if you want to follow famous people more power to you. If, however, you’d like to follow more “down to earth” people or locate specific organizations, you can click on the “Find On Twitter” tab and type in a specific hobby or interests of yours and see what comes up.
There’s other options too. Twitter Search is another method to search for specific people or organizations.
And then there is this thing called a hashtag, which are tags in a tweet. If a person wants to search for a particular subject or event, they can search a particular hashtag. For example here’s what comes up when I search for a subject like the #Hokies:
As you can see, Twitter allows me to see a variety of tweets in which others included the same word. The users who use the #Hokie hashtag could range from fans (or rivals) of the Virginia Tech Hokies to students who attend Virginia Tech. They could be alumni who have strong ties to the Hokie nation and that includes professionals who graduated from Virginia Tech (through its undergrad or grad program). Pretty cool isn’t it. (More about hashtags in Part 3.)
It may take a while, but with enough determination, you’ll find people who can help you learn more about your industry. If you follow a lot of people, through time you’ll start locating specific people and organizations of interests. You can do this by looking at who your following, is following! Or check out who your followers are following. (More about following and locating people in Part 3. There are various methods to do it!)
I’m interested in the journalism/film field, so over time I sought out people who worked in those types of industries. Here are some that I follow:
Stacy Williamson is an ESPN Media Production Recruiter, Suzanne Tate is the opinion page editor at the Bristol Herald Courier in Bristol, VA, Carla Correa is journalist and community coordinator for the Baltimore Sun and Jenna Johnson is a Washington Post student life & culture reporter. A recruiter for ESPN, and three professional journalists…How cool is that? You never know who you’ll end up discovering and finding!
These are but a few of some prominent (and very helpful) people whom I communicate with via Twitter. I would have never connected with any of these people if it hadn’t been for Twitter. College students can do the same, and have all the opportunity in the world if they take some time to look!
By connecting with professionals on Twitter, college students can interact with them and learn more about their possible career choice. Twitter allows professionals to engage with their followers and have a personal voice rather than remaining behind scenes at their job. Through interaction, college students can strengthen their personal bonds with professionals, and this may come in handy for future job employments.
Another person who I’m following is Jordan Fifer, a multimedia producer for the Roanoke Times. I’m interested in possibly becoming a multimedia journalist, and through Twitter I was able to connect with Jordan and learn more about this specific career. We exchanged emails and he sent me an excellent email which talked about what he does for work and what I should be doing if I really wanted to get into journalism. I received excellent tips and advice, and it all happened as a result of Twitter.
This experience could happen to anyone. There’s always a possibility to connect with professionals in your field and learn more about what they do. To me, a lot of college students don’t recognize the possibility/opportunity of using social media to engage with professionals and create relationships that can help them in the future.
It’s critical to understand that connecting with professionals (and future employers) on Twitter, staying in touch and building a strong relationship with them and showing off what you can do can ultimately decide whether you land your next job or not. Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, wrote an excellent article that gave some amazing tips on landing your next job in digital journalism. Buttry didn’t just give tips that pertained to digital journalism, he also talked about the use of Twitter and how it helped land him his current job.
“Connect and network with people you admire in the business, even if you’re happy with your current job. You never know when someone might be in a position to hire or recommend you. I started following Jim Brady on Twitter months before I knew he might be in a position to hire me.”
Buttry continued with his post and wrote that one day Jim Brady announced a new project for Allbritton Communications, which would be named TBD. Through Twitter, Buttry sent Brady a direct message about his interest in working with him and eventually Buttry was hired.
“It’s not just who you know that lands the job. However, relationships matter. And networking gives you months to make a strong impression on potential employers, an advantage that’s hard to overcome in a short interview.” Buttry made sure to comment that networking isn’t the be-all-end-all solution in landing a job; but developing a relationship through Twitter and strengthening this relationship can be a huge advantage; especially when the competition isn’t doing it.
(Also, go read the article. It’s a gem.)
Twitter Links College Students with Business Organizations
On a larger scale, I also follow multiple organizations that range from the college level to the international level. Starting local, I follow other student media organizations at Virginia Tech like VTTV (Virginia Tech Student Television), Collegiate Times and. Planet Blacksburg (of course). Then there’s Roanoke Times, Cnn, New York Times etc (excuse the recycled image). These organizations pertain to my interests, and I’ve found that many use Twitter as a means to communicate with their customers, recruit for open positions or tweet about discounts/new items in their stores. USA Today wrote an excellent article about businesses and Twitter.
Here’s an interesting and very useful organization that I follow on Twitter, MTV Networks Careers. It tweets out available positions, promotes upcoming shows and yes the account even responds to people too (look at the bottom tweet on the picture). It may be a simple response, but it shows that this Twitter account is actually not a robot, that someone real is operating and pushing out content with a personal voice as well (also note the ^NL in the profile on the top right. I believe that is the signature of the person who is tweeting).
There are tons of organizations like this one that use Twitter as a place to recruit and promote job opportunities. Be on the look out for organizations like this! Who knows, there may have a job opening or an internship that you could apply for. You never know!
Recruiter Stacy, as mentioned above, tweets out job positions for ESPN. Love sports, ESPN and looking for a possible job? Follow her, connect with her and who knows what could happen. She’s a fellow hokie as well
Twitter isn’t just a place for students to connect with professionals. It’s also a site that connects college students with other college students. There are multiple benefits in connecting with college students at your own college and at different colleges. Since I’m interested in journalism, I’ve connected with other student journalists around the country.
Through these connections, I’ve learned how to improve my quality as a journalist, I’ve generated new ideas to enhance my own organization and overall I’ve created stronger bonds with these students. Through interaction I’ve learned what works/doesn’t work for them as journalists and what their organization does to promote news and provide content to fellow students.
To get other college students perspectives, I emailed a couple of student journalists that I met through Twitter to see what they thought about the social networking site. Kaitlin Flanigan replied:
“I think that Twitter is a lot of fun for getting in touch with people, and it’s also incredibly useful for beginning journalists like ourselves for networking. Even though we might live on separate sides of a continent, that doesn’t mean that we can’t collaborate on projects and ideas, and social media is a way for us to network with one another.”
Kevin Loker replied that:
“[Twitter] lends itself well to organizations and businesses, many departments and student groups have adopted accounts, at least at Mason, and frequently update them with the latest news or activities related to their group. And the students who do use Twitter tend to be the most active, or in the know, or at least the most tech saavy. There’s people out there – my guess is on any campus – who see the use in Twitter and use it effectively to share what’s important to the people around them (or “following” them).”
It’s not just journalism. Are you majoring in a different major, like Biology? There are students from all over the country who Tweet and are majoring in Biology. In a matter of seconds I came across Boise State University’s Biology Twitter account. If I wanted, I could look at their followers and see how many BSU students and professors are following them and I could in turn, connect with these students, then expand to other colleges.
By connecting with other students, you can learn what they’re doing to gain experience in the same field. Have they landed a job in the field yet? Have they gained an internship before? If so, what did they do and how did they find these opportunities? What are they doing to enhance their skills that you could be doing as well? All of these questions can be answered if you connect and converse with them. Who knows what you might learn, what you might find and who you might meet. The college students that you connect with through Twitter may become future colleagues, employers or even contact references.
Twitter Can Strengthen the Resumé
I for one, am planning to put down “Networking through Twitter” as a useful “skill” that I possess (or something similar to that). Though I have much more to learn from this social networking site, I hear that companies like potential employees who know how to use social media and social networking sites effectively. Why? It helps the company in terms of promotion and exposure. If they see that you tweet valuable content, follow the right people and also have a lot of followers, it shows that you know how to use a social networking site to your advantage and know how to connect with a bunch of people.
You’d be surprised how many companies are looking for kids our ages with social networking skills. It doesn’t hurt to have it on your resumé and to me, it makes your resumé stand out compared to other competitors because of your knowledge in the social media world. A great article on SSI Review.Org stated:
“Social media makes it so that thousands of people can “see” you and follow your work and leadership. Social media can make you more visible to all the right people – if you use it right – if you market yourself with professionalism and authenticity.”
And it’s true. In fact…Go read the article. Seriously. Right now!!!
Why Haven’t Haven’t More College Students Joined Twitter?
Some excuses as to why some students won’t join Twitter:
“Twitter is just basically updating your facebook status,” or, “I don’t care about people putting their socks on or spilling orange juice on their clothes. That’s what Twitter is.”
Believe it or not, these are the types of responses I get when I try to get people my age to join Twitter. If only they knew how much Twitter has to offer, and how much it can help them in finding jobs and learning more about their career choice. Yes, Twitter does have users who tweet things like the mentioned examples, but you don’t have to follow such people. Part 3 will detail on how you can gain followers and how you can follow people that can help you and teach you about your interests.
Join. Socialize. Connect. Learn. Expand your network. Twitter offers so much to college students. Internships, even jobs, can be obtained through Twitter if students know how to utilize this social networking site. However, students must take it upon themselves to join Twitter and be active in order to gain the full benefits that Twitter has to offer. Don’t be afraid and don’t hesitate to start now. What are you waiting for?