It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

As a college student and a graduate looking for work, I was constantly reminded of the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Professors, advisors and even my parents stressed the importance of making face-to-face connections in order to generate opportunities. Social media is taking the old adage and amplifying it to a point where it is no longer helpful for jobseekers to connect with employers online, or companies to connect with customers online, it’s absolutely essential.

From the standpoint of a company, the more you know about your customers, competitors, employees and key influencers in your industry, the more successful you will be.

Scott Elser suggests monitoring where your competitors are utilizing their resources to determine your social media strategy. Although I see the value of keeping tabs on your competitors, I think it’s more complex than Elser states it. Stephanie Chandler says that social media is a great way to capitalize on your competitors because most companies aren’t doing an adequate job utilizing social media. If your competitors aren’t using social media to its full potential, than why should you use them as a guideline for what your social media strategy should be?

While creating my blog about wedding planning, I looked at successful wedding blogs to see how they were reaching their audiences. Scoping out my competitors did inspire me to try different things, but it wasn’t until I was experimenting with my own blog, that I discovered what did and didn’t work.

Many authors stress that the best way for a company to connect with an audience is to be human, whether it’s through your employees’ posts or great storytelling. A prime example of how effective storytelling can benefit a company can be seen in one of the most popular Super Bowl ads this year.

Clydesdales don’t really relate to beer, but this commercial humanized Budweiser’s brand. The same theory holds true with social media. Successful companies are able to connect with their audience by using great messages that people want to retweet, post about on Facebook or blog about.

From the standpoint of a jobseeker, the more you utilize social media to build your personal brand and connect with companies and industry leaders, the more relevant and appealing you will be.

While in college, my classmates and I were constantly warned of how detrimental having social media accounts could be and we were instructed to delete our accounts. It’s true that HR departments are searching for your accounts and using social media to eliminate candidates, but now, it’s more detrimental not to a social media presence. If you’re not using social media to promote your brand and make connections, you’re not relevant.

It’s essential for companies to come off as human, but can the same be said about jobseekers? Is it important to delete all traces of your personal life from social media to appear professional, or do companies view your personal life as an asset, as long as what you express is in good taste?

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Meet Lauren

Although I was born and bred a proud Buckeye, I’m excited to be a Mass Communications gr63544_464740007593_5849001_nad student at the University of Florida. I’ve been obsessed with social media ever since the days of chatting with friends on AIM and sharing my prepubescent ramblings on Xanga! I’ve witnessed and experienced social media’s transition  from a device that helps people connect with friends, to a tool that companies can utilize to connect with potential consumers.

I graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2011, with degrees in journalism and public relations. While pursuing my degrees I had the opportunity to work as a reporter for several newspapers, as well as the honor to serve as editor-in-chief for ONU’s campus newspaper. I also worked in Communications and Marketing Department at Ohio Northern and the Public Relations Department at Lima Memorial Health System.

After graduation, I accepted an editing position at The Findlay Courier. Besides determining content and layout for the newspaper, I was responsible for updating stories and breaking news on the newspaper’s website, as well as posting readers’ comments. This was my first taste of how rapidly social media evolves.

Most recently I worked in the Marketing Department at CWI Gifts. The company was wanting to branch into the wedding industry, and I was responsible for maintaining a blog and Pinterest page that led reader’s to their products. I had taken a social media class at ONU, but most of the information I had learned was no longer up-to-date so I had to teach myself how to effectively use the sites. I monitored my blog’s posts and stats to see which messages were reaching the readers, and which were not.

I think social media’s role in society and the work place is only going to increase. Having a degree concentrating in social media will give me the more formal training and tools that I need to be successful in my future positions, as well as give me an edge in a competitive job market.

When I’m not on a social media site, I enjoy watching and playing sports, running, traveling and spending time with my family, friends and kitten Mylee. I’m also obsessed with all things wedding! My fiance and I are getting married May 31, 2014, so I’m constantly indulging in my obsession and planning every aspect of what will hopefully be a perfect day!