I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.
As I conducted my dissertation research about Twitter, one might consider I have an affinity for it. Some days I do. Most days I don’t. After going through more than a million (and, no, that is NOT an exaggeration) collegiate tweets during one fall, I decided Twitter and I needed some time apart. Since then, we’ve reconnected, but I do not feel as loyal to it as I probably should be.
However, Twitter is one of my research topics still because, as I stated, I have a love-hate relationship. How can I teach journalism and communication courses and not be allured by it? Media outlets are using it to quote the president of the United States. KFC is using it to garner attention for its chicken. Kanye West and the Kardashians use it to make us believe they’re still relevant (don’t – just don’t). My college students use it day in and day out – and that’s where it becomes not just a research tool but a teaching topic as well.
I love to tell the story of a former student of mine, a Democrat. He wanted an internship with a Republican politician, though, so before he ever applied, he conducted a semi-social media audit of himself and changed all of his profiles to Republican red. He landed the internship.
Social media audits can be beneficial for everyone, not just students looking for internships or professionals seeking new career opportunities. Social media audits can help keep information private, locate individuals with similar goals, and expand one’s research and knowledge capabilities. And, even better – anyone can do it. No downloads or additional fees necessary.
I have my students conduct a social media audit in the SM class I teach, and here are the basics of what they’re looking for:
- How many social media profiles do you have? (Think Facebook and Twitter for sure, but also remember any blogs you may have, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
- How often are you posting on each of these sites? It may be that you use Facebook every day but haven’t looked at your LinkedIn site in months – which may indicate you need to remove that profile.
- What is your audience engagement? Do people respond or like your status updates? What about pictures? Do you wish people commented more? Less? What kind of dialogue do you want to open up when you post information?
For everyone — stay-at-home mom, teacher, minister, etc – you can let social media serve you or harm you. Determine why you have these social media profiles. Determine why you post what you do on them. And make them work for you. Do you simply want to have a record of your vacations to look back through in a year or so? Maybe a trusty printed photo album would be better than to post your information online. Are you hoping to move up the corporate ladder or find a new job in the upcoming year? Maybe you shouldn’t post the political rant that you just really, really, really want to.
Everyone has a reason for choosing which SM to engage. However, make sure you know why you do.