College students learn importance of social media
By Andrew Martasian
For college students, especially those close to graduation, few things are more important than finding a job.
For students of marketing and business, social media skills are an important part of what it takes to launch and maintain their careers.
Students at Suffolk University in Boston learn about how to use social media to manage a company’s online presence, as well as how to manage their own professional careers.
“We do have pretty extensive social media curriculum in the marketing department and throughout the business school,” Jenna McGrail, a senior marketing major at Suffolk, said.
“I don’t think I’ve had a single class where we haven’t touched on social media,” McGrail said.
Some classes, like The Business of Digital Media, taught by Meera Venkatraman, focus intensively on understanding how digital, mobile and social media change the way businesses engage with their audience.
“I basically take the approach that this digital/social media is changing every aspect of marketing,” Venkatraman said.
Venkatraman takes a rigorous approach to teaching her students about digital and social media. Her class meets for four hours once a week and her students take every avenue of learning available to them.
Her students read about and discuss new media, but they also work on solving real social and digital media problems.
Venkatraman says the education Suffolk students receive is designed to be “fresh and current and relevant” so students can be ready for whatever their post-graduation career has in store for them.
However, the marketing world is always changing, especially when it comes to social and digital media, but Venkatraman hopes her students will be ready with what they’ve learned at Suffolk.
“It gives them enough of a base to evaluate new developments,” she said.
While it’s important to learn the ins and outs of social media to be successful in the business world, a lot of what students at Suffolk and other area colleges, learn relates to self-branding, according to McGrail.
“I don’t think I’ve had a single class where the professor hasn’t mentioned that you have to have a LinkedIn profile,” she said.
Simply having a profile on LinkedIn is not enough. Students have to understand how to use their profile effectively to be noticed by employers.
Cheri Paulson, director of the graduate center of career development at Babson College stresses the importance of properly using LinkedIn to the students she advises.
Paulson said it is important to form relationships with your LinkedIn connections from the moment you make them.
“If you’re going to invite someone to join [your network], don’t just use a canned messaging,” she said. “Tell them why or how you know of them and start the relationship from hello.”
Proper personal branding is important when it comes to finding a job. In addition to building a network online, it is critical that students do not post evidence of unprofessional behavior to their personal social media profiles.
“Companies are out there and they’re Googling clients so they’ll be able to see anything you’ve ever been in or anything you’ve ever done with social media,” said Ken Mattsson, Assistant Director, Alumni and Graduate Students at Emerson College Career Services.
Mattsson tells the students he advises to consider what image they want to portray online.
“So for example, if I see that you’re trying to show yourself as professional and then there’s a drunk picture of you on Instagram, then that’s going against your intended persona,” he said.
According to Mattsson, social media is a way to show off an individual’s skill set to employers.
“You can demonstrate online that you have knowledge,” he said.
Mattsson also said that being a professional in a specific field is like being “a member of a secret club,” and social media is a good way to prove you’re a part of that field of professionals.
“I’ve heard many many people that have basically gotten jobs because of their connections through social media,” he said.
Eight social media tips from the experts
By Andrew Martasian
If you’re trying to make yourself stand out on social media, you will want to take a look at the list of social media best practices from the experts.
8. Google yourself.
Prospective employers are doing it, so you should too. Understand what your social media presence says about you, and try to fix it if you have to. – Ken Mattsson, Assistant Director, Alumni and Graduate Students at Emerson College Career Services.
7. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
Join a few key groups on LinkedIn rather than every group you can think of. It gets overwhelming fast and makes it too difficult to have meaningful engagement if you’re everywhere at once. – Cheri Paulson, director of the graduate center for career development at Babson College.
6. Write a tagline.
Use keywords that will be searchable and attract the right people to you. -– Sharmin Attaran, assistant professor of marketing at Bryant University.
5. Know your platform.
Social media sites have different atmospheres. Twitter is more personal and less formal, whereas LinkedIn is very professional. Post accordingly. – Attaran
4. Don’t let yourself get lost in the search results.
If you have a common name, you may want to use a middle initial or middle name to set yourself apart in the search results. – Mattson
3. Consider the brand you want to make for yourself.
What do your posts say about you? Make sure they send the message you want to send. – Mattsson
2. Have good content.
Maintain a blog, have a LinkedIn and Twitter profile. Try to make yourself show up in as many positive search results as possible. You can’t get rid of bad content, but you can try to drown it out with the good stuff. – Mattsson
1. Don’t clutter your LinkedIn profile with too many references.
References are great, but if you have more than six or seven of them people may not read any. – Paulson