4 Insights from Columbia School of Journalism Social Media Weekend 2012

columbia journalism, social media weekend, #smwknd

This past weekend I volunteered as a Social Media Doctor for the second annual Columbia School of Journalism’s Social Media Weekend 2012 organized by Professor Sree Sreenivasan.  Social Media Weekend (#smwknd) is a conference with workshops, panels, and keynotes for journalists and media professionals to understand social media and apply it to their profession. Other offerings for attendees included getting your  headshot taken for your social profile pictures and having Social Media Doctors on call to answer one-on-one questions and provide social media consultation.

I signed up to volunteer after my NY Creative Interns‘ team members Emily Miethner (who also led two great workshops on social media basics) and Marny Smith said they were doing so. I was also happy that a few other familiar faces of the social media world volunteered as well, such as Mashable’s Community Manager Meghan Peters, NBC Latino Social Media Manager Adrian Carrasquillo, and CTO of Webgrrls International Nelly Yusupova. Each Social Media Doctor had their own station armed with a stethoscope (really) and their laptops and would receive patients one-on-one for 15 minutes.  My patients varied from Kamaria Gboro, a community manager for travel startup Gtrot to Maria Balinska of Latitude News. In between were people who just created their Twitter account that day and students hoping to break into a career either in social media or just using social media to network. While I was there to teach other people and offer my expertise, I gained a few insights as well:

  • People are seeing LinkedIn not just as a platform to post their resumes, but to network and research on other companies for business opportunities. I think companies and educational institutions should definitely create pages on LinkedIn. It’s also a valuable tool for job seekers to find contacts at companies they would like to work for. In terms of how often you should update LinkedIn, I’m personally happy for now to link my Twitter updates to my profile.
  • Across the board, Facebook has made posts from Facebook pages more difficult for fans to see.  Many people I talked to said that over the past few months, their engagement numbers have gone down on Facebook. This is a combination of Sponsored Stories being placed within the newsfeed and the EdgeRank algorithm making all of our jobs much more challenging. More than ever, getting fans to engage is the highest priority.
  • The meaning behind the term “Social Media Expert” is open to anyone’s interpretation. I was talking to one student named Kathy and she told me she has seen job openings that require applicants to share their Klout score.  She also was previously misled into thinking that being an expert in social media is a matter of how sociable you are in real life a.k.a. because you know how to work a room at a party, you know how to manage a Twitter account. While most community managers I meet are the most personable and engaging people I know, understanding social media requires more skill than being good with small talk. It’s a combination of understanding social behavior and communication.
  • Foursquare employees must love the outdoors. The after party was at the new Foursquare headquarters, which featured a huge room filled with picnic tables and gorgeous wood flooring – in case you were curious.

Volunteering for Social Media Weekend was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet so many thought leaders of the social media industry.

I definitely recommend following @ElizaIn140′s Speakers and Panelists Twitter list, and the Twitter list of #smwknd organizers for great insight and thought leadership on how social media is reshaping journalism.

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