Social media is not just for selfies anymore.
The Society of Professional Journalists held a Professional Presence workshop in Patterson Hall on Wednesday about keeping a professional image on social media.
Robbyn Taylor, a journalism lecturer, spoke to students about building a social media presence, keeping your private life private, using social media in the workplace and creating digital portfolios.
“The workshop was a chance for students who are interested in journalism or other communication careers to hear how employers and companies use social media when they are making hiring decisions,” Taylor said. “It was also a good opportunity to discuss how companies expect their employees to use social media accounts after they are hired.”
Taylor said social media is not just used for family photos and keeping up with friends.
“Social media is increasingly important when it comes to journalism,” Taylor said. “Whitney Houston’s death, the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and the Hudson River plane crash are all examples of news that broke via public posts on Twitter.
“Journalists must know how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to gather information responsibly and also report responsibly.”
Because social media is becoming its own news outlet, Taylor said that it is important for journalists to provide accurate and timely information in order to responsibly engage social media users.
“While we live in a 24-hour news cycle world, that doesn’t mean journalists can make mistakes on social media sites,” Taylor said. “Credibility is paramount. News consumers expect us to be just as accurate online as we are in print and on television.
“Journalists must also be present where news consumers are. Right now, that’s social media. We’ve got to give consumers the news in a medium they want to read or watch it in.”
Taylor said that students should be aware that employers are monitoring social media and watching potential employee’s pages.
“Social media can be a wonderful tool to aggregate news and share your life with family and friends, but potential employers are checking those sites,” Taylor said. “As a person who once hired reporters and photographers, I can tell you employers do check for an online presence.
“They look to see if you are potentially responsible. Is there anything on your Facebook page or Twitter account that indicates you might not make ethical decisions? Could you be an embarrassment to the company? It’s very important to make steps now, as a student, to create a professional presence online.
“Employers are looking for the full package – someone who is confident with trends and technology and can report the news seamlessly all the way from a breaking news tweet, to a digital story and photo gallery online, to tomorrow’s edition of the paper.”
Kaitlon Isom, a senior broadcast journalism major from Hodges and president of SPJ, said that the presentation really showed the difference between using social media in college and using social media in the work force.
“Coming into college, we use social media for a very different reason than what it’s actually meant to be used for in the work force,” Isom said. “Professor Taylor did a good job explaining to us things we need to watch out for on social media, what employers are looking for and do’s and don’ts [on social media].”