Social media 101: Professional Skills to Utilize

By Jeny Varughese
August 23, 2011

College students today are often urged by professors on the im-portance of an online presence. Having a social media presence is something that is stressed on a daily basis. Often times, we are also told to keep our online presence as pro-fessional as possible.

A class on social media conducted by Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs at Columbia Journalism School, covered several tips on the proper use of social media. The class was filled with useful information on how to use social media in a professional manner and at the same time, how to be authentic on the web.

According to Sreenivasan, social media can do the following things for journalists: help them find new ideas, connect with their readers and viewers, bring traffic to their work and help them enhance their brands.

Sreenivasan’s class in-cluded tips on using TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, as well as other social media sites and how to post the right content.


Social Media Diet:

Mashable is the No. 1 place to be, to find out news about technological and social media advancements with so many changes happening on a daily basis. It is the Wall Street Journal of social media.”

Another important website is MuckRack, which is a professional site where journalists from all over the world get together to be in one place to share their thoughts and ideas.


Growing Trends in Facebook:

“What started out as a network commu-nity for Harvard students by Mark Zucker-berg, has now turned into one of the most widely used social media / networking site in the world.”

Facebook is generally used to stay in touch with friends and family. However, it is also used as a platform for connections, traffic, business and for building journalistic work.

“One of the most important things you have to do is curate your social media presence. Everyone you know is on Facebook, but be careful of what you post and what pages you like because your fu-ture employers look at your online presence.”

Sreenivasan suggests creating a fan page so you can have a professional online presence along with your personal profile. Also, apply privacy settings so that you manage what others are able to see in your profile.


Building a professional online presence:

“Always be conscious of what you put on the web, because once it’s posted it’s there forever and one small mistake could end up causing huge problems.”

Most people do not realize how impor-tant it is to be mindful of what goes on the web. Once it’s out there, anyone with access to the internet can view your content. So while it’s okay to have fun be conscious of what you post for others to see.

“A LinkedIn account should be created to stay connected with professional contacts as well as to search for job opportunities or to join professional groups.”


Using Twitter professionally:

“It is important to keep your tweets un-der 120 characters. Also, bluify or link as much as possible.”

Sreenivasan’s advice on using twitter is to post what your most important fol-lowers might be interested in rather than tweeting about your life by the minute, because most readers aren’t interested in those details. To find out who your most influential followers are Sreenivasan sug-gests going to

“Most people are worried about how many followers they have, but what you re-ally need to look at is, how many people you follow and how many numbers of professional/informational tweets you have.”

Twitter is a platform for you to connect with your followers. In order to keep your followers, post the right content rather than using twitter as a platform for con-stant complaints.

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Jeny Varughese

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