Social Networking – What is it? How can I effectively use these tools?

Social media tools have become very mainstream in today's society.  Just a year and a half ago, I was about the only person my age that had a Facebook account.  I opened it in the days when you had to have an ".edu" email account to even create a profile.  I noticed a year ago that people starting coming out of the woodwork!  Folks I haven't heard from or seen in €¦ 20-something years.  It was great fun to catch up with folks.  It was an online high school reunion on a daily basis.

Monitoring Twitter, I came across an event being held at VCU by the Richmond Chapter of the Social Media Club EDU (geared towards those in education in one way or the other).  The event was called Tweet That!, and was moderated by Professor Messner of the Mass Communications department at VCU.  The panelist included a current student at VCU, a recent grad from UofR, a local recruiter, and a professional blogger.

I created a Twitter account and frankly, had no idea what to do with it.  I know some folks who use twitter in a way too personally (it's really OK not to let everyone know that you had to leave a meeting because you had to throw up.  Really.).  But I started "following" people on twitter who posted on subjects that I found interesting:  good wine and instructional technology and the like.  I have sinced dropped the wine following (except for a few of my favorite tweeters!), and have focused on finding information that is useful to the Law School and the University of Richmond.

Highlights included:

Why use Web 2.0 tools?

In this context, Web 2.0 tools included using tools like Google Docs for collaborating on projects and for content sharing.  Having used Google Docs, I can vouch for its usefulness and for its ease of use as well.

Interestingly enough, some of the panelists and some of the audience felt like Professors should be teaching students how to use some social media tools in the classroom.  As a law school environment, I'm not sure how we could incorporate the teaching of these tools in a particular class, but it may be the subject of a Technology Tidbit lunchtime series class in the near future.

So what about other tools?  LinkedIn?  Twitter?  Facebook?  Flickr?  Can these tools be used professionally?  The answer is yes.

The recruiter panelist talked about these tools:


o   Build your site like an online resume.

o   Because this service is free, a lot of recruiters are using this tool to find employees.  Services such as charge hiring agencies for the use of their database.


o   Tweet about the content that you are interested in (some Professors tweet about their subject interests, i.e., environmental law, etc.).

o   Recruiters search for key words in Twitter.  If you've been active, your twitter account will come up more often.  Think of it as micro-blogging.


o   Need to draw a line between personal and professional content.

o   May keep two accounts, but you should keep them all clean.

o   Learn how to use Facebook privacy settings – THIS IS KEY, FOLKS.  Learn how to lock down your settings so only those who you WANT to see you content can.


o   Use Google Alert to keep abreast of content that is posted about you online

Even though none of the panelists touched on this site, is a very interesting site.  It's amazing what might be out there on you that you may not even know.

The final piece of advice the panelists gave was that it's not necessarily to be come an expert on every social media tool.  Decide what you want to use and get good at using them.

One Response to “Social Networking – What is it? How can I effectively use these tools?”

  1. JoeOFarrel says:

    I fully agree that these tools can be used professionally. Personally, I’ve been in the banking sector for years now, developing software. I’ve a passion for anything web 2.0, and I’ve been trying to web 2.0ify the manner in which banking software is created. Its probably the most rigid software around, concentrated on swifts and whats not. I’m sure that even in the law sector, web 2.0 capacities allow for an efficiency of knowledge sharing never seen before.

    The thing to bear in mind is that all these tools inevitably fail when they have no connection with the real world. Succesful twitterers don’t just tweet to tweet – they tweet because they are using a network which exists in real life. Same with Facebook, Linkedln – as facebook founder put it: they’ve provided us with “elegant organisation”tools. Its now up to us to elegantly decide how to use it…

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