#iEvolved: My Social Media Transformation

When it comes to social media, I have consistently found myself a bit behind the times.  I only joined the Facebook world my senior year of high school which put me about four years behind in comparison to my friends.  Even this seemed like a big step for me, so I allowed it to be the extent of my social media activity for quite some time.  As it turns out, this semester set in motion my evolution into a much more professional, social media savvy individual.

Prior to taking Intro to Public Relations, I was completely oblivious to the importance of social networks.  I admit, I even harbored some negative attitudes toward these sites which I saw as pointless distractions.  Upon taking this first class in the PR sequence as well as joining PRSSA, I was quickly made aware of my ignorance.  PRSSA has given me the opportunity to hear countless professionals speak about their occupations in the field, and every single one has incessantly stressed the benefits that a solid base of knowledge and involvement in social media can provide.  It didn’t take hearing all of these professionals for me to get the idea.  My plan to submerge myself into the social media world took off less than a month into the semester.

Facebook

Where better to start on my path to social media savviness than a familiar territory?  Already a member, I understood that I needed to tweak my settings a bit to make myself more private.  Potential employers know how get around obstacles in order to find anything they need.  With my page set to private, my name different than my full birth name, and my friends list chopped nearly in half after un-friending people I really didn’t know, I had conquered Facebook.

Twitter

Judging by my initial skepticism about this site, I could have never predicted my eventual obsession with it.  PRSSA meetings have emphasized the need for a more professional twitter account, so upon joining, I created a recreational account as well as a professional one.  Twitter allows me to follow organizations, celebrities, peers, and professors that keep me informed about happenings in the PR world and the world in general.  I confess, I get almost all of my news from Twitter these days!  **Follow me @meghan5phillips

LinkedIn

Of all my social media endeavors, this site excites me the most.  PRSSA meetings and the professionals who speak at them place particular emphasis on LinkedIn and how individuals can use it to strategically set themselves apart to potential employers.  Before joining PRSSA, I did not even have a profile.  Now, I find myself constantly editing my LinkedIn page as I receive more tips in class and at PRSSA.  Lately, my focus has turned to highlighting what I uniquely got out of past jobs and any experiences I’ve had in the field of communication.  Just like a paper résumé, employers seek LinkedIn profiles that distinguish their users.  I hope to increase my number of connections now that I have joined PRSSA and have become closer with peers who share the love for communication that I have.  Connect with me, Meghan Phillips, on LinkedIn!

I have not reached my full potential in the social media world, yet, but I plan to continue my journey.  My next goal is to start a blog or possibly a vlog (a video blog) on YouTube pertaining to my experiences in the field of public relations and communication.  Be on the lookout for me as I take the social media world by storm!

Meghan Phillips is a junior Interpersonal Communication and Psychology double major and plans to eventually add a minor in Advertising.  She serves as the Vice President of the UD Women’s Club Basketball team and is a current member of PRSSA.

Member of the Week: David Johnson

Name: David Johnson

Year: Senior

Major: Psychology

Minors: Sociology and Advertising

Hometown: Doylestown, PA

Activities on campus: Co-founder and President of Heifer International at UD, Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Disaster Research Center, PRSSA enthusiast

What I hope to get out of PRSSA: My studies have not explicitly prepared me for public relations work.  Thanks to its strong network of students and professionals, PRSSA allows me to meaningfully kindle my passion for strategic communication.   Professional development seminars and diverse guest speakers have hastened my development as an aspiring public relations professional and I eagerly look forward to participating in upcoming events.  I praise PRSSA for helping me immerse myself in the exciting pubic relations field.

Dream job after college: Any position that allows me to use my skills to improve the quality of life of others.  More specifically, I plan on pursuing non-profit work, ideally with the Alzheimer’s Association.  Using public relations skills to accomplish noble tasks inspires me.

Social Media and its Role in Our Need for Immediacy

Human beings on a typical basis have the ability to send and receive text messages, instantly receive and respond to emails, check their Facebook pages for interesting—hold on a minute, I just received a text message. That’s absolutely hilarious! I’m sorry, what was I saying? Oh, I remember— information regarding their friends’ lives through pictures and status updates. Without being completely cognizant of our dependency on these social “resources”, we begin to crave that instant gratification of novelty, but to our own detriment. With that incessant need comes a decline in our ability to pay attention and an inability to be present in face-to-face interactions.

It seems that even if you wanted to give your mind a mental vacation from its captivity in an online social environment, you cannot escape it (or worse, even if you did escape it, you would be out of the loop!).

And while sure, communication is a progressive and versatile tool in the modern world both for staying in touch with each other and remaining updated on a regular basis, how much communication can our brains withstand until faced with an overload?

Reflect on how excited you may feel when your phone buzzes with a new text message, or when you receive a Facebook notification. Remember that while this excitement is temporarily stimulating to your brain, it is actually damaging the way the brain functions in the long run.

Research suggests, in fact, that social media is rewiring the brain. According to an article on PRdaily.com written by Michael Sebastian, there are five prime examples of how social media is influencing the way our brains function:

  1. First, “we’re becoming dumber”
  2. Second, we “get bored more easily”
  3. Third, “we cannot focus or handle stress”
  4. Fourth, we are becoming less easily satisfied
  5. Lastly, we are “becoming more partisan”

These aforementioned negative effects on our brains are a direct result of constant exposure to social media, and are severely contributing to an almost urgent need for immediacy in modern culture.

Additionally, research suggests that the pleasure center in the brain is stimulated when one engages in self-disclosure, or, in simpler terms, the act of talking about oneself.

In an article entitled, “The Dopamine High: From Social Networking to Survival” by Victoria Saadat of the University of Southern California, she explains that a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University tested the theory that “people more highly value their own experiences over those of others, and that self-disclosure, or the act of talking about oneself, positively triggers dopamine reward pathways”. The findings depict that “the human tendency to share information about personal experiences with others is intimately connected with the positive reward triggers in the dopamine reward pathway”.

It seems as though the existence of social media for personal (as opposed to professional) use exemplifies this need to broadcast one’s everyday experiences.

While we are working towards understanding the negative effects of constant exposure to social media outlets, it may conflict with our desire to become involved with a career in the field of public relations. In the PR world, Twitter—that is, tweeting from a professional standpoint—is virtually necessary to remain updated on what’s happening in the field of public relations, what major companies are searching for in their employees, advice from professionals, and chances to network.

In this case, it is not necessary to completely distance oneself from social media outlets such as Twitter, nor is it necessary to be connected twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Instead, it is important to find a balance between the two by checking updates periodically (especially if recommended or required by your employer).

Luckily, there are tips regarding how to lessen the extent to which we are addicted to social media, as suggested by Tony Dokoupil.

Ultimately, the inability to detach mentally, physically, and emotionally from our technological devices and social networks is a phenomenon, I’d venture to say, that we are all guilty of participating in. This is to suggest that we do not pay attention to or appreciate our surroundings, face-to-face conversations, and our relationships. It is because we are so engrossed in our virtual worlds that we have trouble being present in reality.

It is especially important, then, to consciously focus on our surroundings (our breathtaking college campus, for instance), our relationships with friends and family, and an effort to detach ourselves from the oppressive link to the virtual world of social media to which we are so firmly attached. If it means going for a walk or grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend sans cell phone, then so be it. While you’re at it, try to slowly but surely wean yourself off Facebook by replacing that urge to check the most current status updates with a desire to engage in another hobby.

While social media will undoubtedly be an integral part of the way we communicate, interact with one another, and get our jobs done efficiently in the workplace, we cannot forget what lies at the core of our human roots: being present in our surroundings and maximizing on our personal (face-to-face, of course) relationships with others.

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Sara is a sophomore, double majoring in communications and English (concentrating in professional writing). She writes for the UD Review, is a social media ambassador for UD’s Facebook and Twitter pages, is a member of BHLP, works on the Exec Board for the Christiana Residency Advisory Board for the Towers, is a sister of Alpha Delta Pi, and is the operations director for PRSSA-UD this year. In addition, Sara established a branch of an online magazine for college women here at the university, “hercampus.com/udel“. She loves the University of Delaware and has found her home here! 

Member of the Week: Maddie Brooks

Name: Maddie Brooks

Year: Sophomore

Major: Communication Interest and Public Policy

Hometown: Newark, DE

Activities on campus: PRSSA, Staff Reporter for The Review, Swing Dance Club, InterVarsity

What PRSSA means to me: PRSSA helps me to gain knowledge and become confident in my aspiration to become a public relations professional. I used to be nervous and unsure of what to expect in this field, but PRSSA prepares me tremendously. PRSSA takes classroom knowledge and applies it in a real world, career-focused setting. The speakers, skill slams, and field trips dig deep into public relations practice and cultivate our expertise and professionalism. Because of PRSSA, I am confident I will succeed for the remainder of college and in my career.

Dream job: Doing public relations for a hospital, healthcare organization, or nonprofit organization

WWE and Social Media

By: Joseph Silver

“World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), a publicly traded company, is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment.  WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on all of its programming. WWE programming is broadcast in more than 145 countries and 30 languages and reaches more than 600 million homes worldwide. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Istanbul and Tokyo.”

For those that don’t know what it is, WWE is the world’s largest professional wrestling company.  They film live shows in different arenas every week.  The superstars and divas (male and female wrestlers) engage in storyline feuds with each other.  The action in the ring, while dangerous, is staged and choreographed prior to filming, just as with any television sitcom you may watch.  Within the past few years, WWE has utilized social media to become a mainstream organization.  Almost every superstar has a Twitter account where they share pictures and stories about their daily lives.  This outlet has bridged the gap between superstars and the WWE Universe (a term the company uses to describe its fan base).  Fans have the ability to interact with these ‘larger-than-life’ superstars, and that is the goal of their strategy; it is getting the fans to connect with the product in a new dimension.

Not only do fans connect with the superstars on Twitter, but also the superstars connect with each other, enabling fans to follow the virtual war of words using unique hashtags (i.e. #WWE, #Raw).  Superstars use Twitter to “trash-talk” each other and enhance their feuds.  As a Long Island native, it’s hard to write about WWE and social media without mentioning Zack Ryder.  He is a superstar from Long Island who used social media to climb to the upper echelon of the WWE roster.  Ryder created his own weekly YouTube show.  With his creative writing and catchphrases, the self-proclaimed Internet Champion built a fan base from scratch and made a name for himself.  He now has almost 1 million followers on Twitter, more than the New York Jets and New York Giants combined.  More superstars and followers (as of writing this post) below:

  • The Rock: 3,569,918 followers
  • John Cena: 2,993,914 followers
  • Randy Orton: 1,645,459 followers
  • CM Punk: 1,389,705 followers

Another social media outlet that is on the rise is Tout. Tout is a website where users can upload 15-second videos for all to see.  The WWE superstars have been encouraged to spend more time uploading videos and using social media in general.  Some have used Tout to challenge other superstars to a match, to document their traveling experiences, and to show off how much weight they can lift in the gym.  It is just another way to get an inside look at the life of a superstar and feel a personal connection to them.

WWE is a pioneer in social media.  In recent months, WWE has been using celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, Mike Tyson, Khloe Kardashian, and Larry King to be “Social Media Ambassadors” on their show Monday Night RAW.  Throughout the night, the “Ambassadors” would tweet about the show in an attempt by WWE to expand their fan base, increase ratings, and reach people that may not regularly watch professional wrestling.

WWE has implemented social media into their company culture.  Company officials are constantly concerned with social media activity/rankings and worldwide Twitter trends.  It is challenging to see where social media will take us next in regards to public relations.  Twitter gives people a voice, and Tout even more so.  It will be interesting to see how WWE and other companies will implement social media to reach fans around the world. 


Photo courtesy of Tout.com

 

Joseph Silver is a junior, communication interest major.  In addition to involvement with PRSSA, he is a member of the Deltones, UD’s premiere a cappella group.  Joseph transferred to UD this year from SUNY New Paltz and is really enjoying his time in Delaware.

Member of the Week: Shayna Lupu

Name: Shayna Lupu

Year: Sophomore

Major: Communication Interest

Minor: Applying for Advertising Minor

Hometown: North Bellmore, NY

Activities on campus: Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority (Spirit Chair), BlueHenSays Ambassador (follow me @BlueHenShayna), PRSSA member

What I hope to get out of PRSSA: Knowledge of public relations, social media skills, networking opportunities, friends and experiences from our field trips and connections!

Dream job after college: Working for a public relations firm in NYC.