I grew up on the brink of the web revolution. As went through high school, the world transformed into a wonderland of high-speed Internet, online resources, mobile apps and – perhaps most notably – social media.
While like Rory Gilmore I wore a Chilton-style uniform in high school and prepared for college, social media was a constant part of my life. I went from using MSN messenger, to Facebook, to Twitter and then on to Instagram. However, I saw social media as a temptress. I considered these platforms a waste of time, a distraction and a hindrance to my academic and personal success. Our senior year, my friends suspended their accounts and avoided the Instagram filters, chat bubbles and pithy remarks in hopes of rising above this ‘destructive’ (albeit fun) online universe.
In my transition from high school to college I have redefined my usage and understanding of social media. Social media, though still fun, has become a very productive part of my life.
LinkedIn was eye opening for me. All of a sudden, I understood that an online profile could be constructive, as opposed to a waste of time. I started to consider how much I could capitalize on social media platforms for academic and extra-curricular pursuits.
In my first year of college, I used social media platforms to promote student-organized events, find out what was happening on campus, communicate across the world and engage in dialogue related to coursework. Then in my second year at Duke I started to work as a social media analyst for Duke’s Office of News and Communications (ONC). In this internship I started to understand the professional possibilities social media offers.
In my internship with ONC I have had access to data for the big Duke accounts and have been privy to planning and strategy meetings. I have learned about what time is best to post to different platforms, the effectiveness of hashtag campaigns and the importance of using a range of mediums. Most importantly, I have witnessed the deep thought and planning that goes into achieving a prominent social media presence.
It is this – the idea of thoughtfulness and strategy – that has fundamentally changed how I approach social media. Social media has gone from being a mindless activity in my life, a distraction, to something that requires considerable investment and resources. By being more intentional about social media I am able to use the tools advantageously. I am no longer social media’s captive audience, but rather, I am captivated by its potential.