Social Networks: Why use them?

Remember the simpler days when you only had social media outlets such as Blogger or LiveJournal to communicate and express your thoughts? Better yet, remember when the internet never existed and you quietly wrote in a tangible journal that no one ever read? I sure do. Today, we’re bombarded with a million social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. How do we choose which to use and why use them at all?

Today’s world is that of ongoing, immediate information technology. If you don’t try to learn at least one type of social network, even loosely, you’re at a disadvantage. You fall behind socially, worldly, and well, economically. So which do I use? Too many, and all for different reasons:

Facebook – I opened up a Facebook account as a freshman in college because it was new and everyone was using it. It was a way of keeping in contact with all my friends from home who went to different colleges. It was also a way to meet new college friends and peers, by contacting them about homework, sharing stories, or setting up events. Today, I use it mainly and minimally to keep in contact with family and friends.

Twitter– Twitter is currently my favorite social network. I use it to reach out to three groups: runners, fiction writers, and comic writers/artists/enthusiasts. I follow fellow runners to swap advice and gain motivation. I follow writers in general to understand the process and development of a piece of work. It’s basically a learning process for me as well as an inspiration. In terms of comic writers and artists, I’m just a fan of their work and like to see what’s in store for the near future. However, I do interact with some writers with the hope of building my professional network. What’s great about Twitter is that I can choose who I want to follow and what topics interest me. I only have a handful of friends I follow, unlike Facebook, where I typically ignore everything on the news feed.

Tumblr – I created a Tumblr during my unemployment days to practice my writing and keep busy. My tumblr focused on literature and writing related topics. It became a way to network and sympathize with other writers.

DeviantArt – This one is recent. I use it to post original short stories I’ve written to get feedback, read other works, and network with writers.

LinkedIn – This is my professional version of Facebook where I keep in contact with former coworkers or peers in similar fields.

And there you have it! Aside from Facebook, which I use solely for keeping in contact with people I know, I utilize the other social networks to find people with similar interests and people who can help me better myself in my desired profession. I’m basically all business, with a need to gain knowledge and support in my field. Growing up, I’ve been surrounded by family and friends who are involved in the hard sciences, so social networking became a way for me to find people more like me. And that’s why social media is so important.

Social media brings people with similar interests and goals together with ease. There are no excuses for being passive about networking. Everything is a click away. What I find interesting is not how social media can bring family and friends together, but company and customer, celebrity and fan, etc. Take Twitter for example. I’ve been able to talk to a few writers I admire on a professionally intimate level rather than post comments of adulation.

Of course, social media has its drawbacks: information overload, frequent consumer dissatisfaction and therefore a decrease in company credibility, and the inability for people to communicate face-to-face. It’s a trade-off, but that’s why I’m interested in public relations. I want to understand social media to use it effectively, both for myself and for the industry I work for. Happy networking, everyone.

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