The Directional Arrow of Social Media


When we talk about the professional uses of social media, most of the focus is on social media as a promotional tool. For individuals, job-seekers, entrepreneurs, big businesses, etc. Social media as a megaphone. Something to broadcast yourself or your business from you, towards others.

But what about the reverse trajectory? The professional uses of social media that information gathering rather than information-producing. Something that helps you to do your job better or become a better professional. The directional arrow of social media shooting inward instead of outward.

I see why most of the articles, discussions, and tips about using social media professionally talk about the megaphone aspect. That is one of the best ways to utilize social media. But I would like to take a look at the other side of the coin and explore some less publicized ways that social media can be used professionally.

Pinterest’s search feature is great for job advice too. Search just about any profession and you will find articles and infographics with ideas, tips, and other valuable information about your field. Be sure to look beyond individual pins too. There are lots of boards dedicated to specific careers or career fields, as well as pinners (Pinterest users) who have a dedicated focus on a particular career. Have the type of job that involves coming up with projects or ideas? Everyone knows that Pinterest is great for the personal uses of those things, so of course it is great for professional uses as well. An excellent example of this is the official “teachers” section of Pinterest. This Pinterest-hosted area has boards for different grade levels, pins about classroom activities or classroom decorating, and more valuable information for teachers. Check it out:

Another example of information gathering from social media is Twitter chats. Certainly, there is a broadcasting element to them and some topics are less information gathering than others, but these can be an excellent way to learn or spur reflection about professional ideas in your field. Not very long ago, I participated in a Twitter chat about business leadership. I’m sure some people participated as a way to make connections or get noticed, but for me, my interest was to learn and reflect on the ideas presented. A great way to gain knowledge is to hear other people’s take on the questions asked in a Twitter chat. Focusing on the questions asked and the answers others give in a Twitter chat is a great way to use social media for personal growth, idea generation, and learning.

One final example is source gathering and/or feedback gathering through social media. If you have a job that involves interviews or your business needs feedback, social media is a great tool for that. After all, social media was the impetus for the term crowdsourcing, this discussion would not be complete without touching on some aspects of crowdsourcing. The first thing that comes to mind for this is poll options that sites like Twitter and Facebook offer. But another good example is a news reporter or news outlet looking for interview sources. For instance, I follow NPR on Facebook and I occasionally see posts from the NPR page looking for interview sources. The post asks if you are a person who fits x scenario, says that NPR would like to talk to you for a story on x subject, and gives an email address to reach out to NPR. Here’s a recent example of an NPR post looking for interview subjects:  NPR: We’re Listening

As with using professional social media as a megaphone, the ways of using professional social media information gathering are endless. This list is a fraction of the options out there. What are some examples you can think of?

The idea for this blog post was spurred by something a classmate said regarding Pinterest. My thanks to her for planting the seed.


4 thoughts on “The Directional Arrow of Social Media

  1. Great post! I think you explore a highly interesting and useful way of perceiving social media that is not promoted as much as the way in which we can use social media as a marketing strategy. I really like that you talk about the different platforms and how they can be used for this alternative route of professional social media. I find myself on Pinterest quite often pinning tips, tricks, and advice to the various boards I created for my potential careers– social media strategy, nonfiction writing, blogging, things of that nature. I also constantly see people asking for interviews, creating polls, and sending out surveys through Facebook. This way of seeing social media is something that is utilized but not necessarily recognized– thank you for making us conscious of this!


  2. I like that you mentioned Twitter chats and polls. The whole idea of extracting and gathering information from social media is really important. The search on Pinterest was great when I first was looking for career-related pins. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to my board and look at those pins again since I’m not an active pinner, but I like that you can search for words or a business and have so many things to look at that could give you an idea or information.


  3. This is a really interesting concept! I had never thought of social media in this way, even though I am definitely using it for this already. Just the other day I created a board for Public Relations and started pinning some of the infographics you mentioned. And literally just today I created a board called “Work Threads” because I realized that while getting dressed for my internship today I had no idea what to wear to work in the summer! It would be interesting to explore how this could be used professionally for a company not just in terms of crowdsourcing. I think it’s really innovative that NPR is using social media to find interview sources. I’ve never engaged in Twitter chats before and I think this is something I will need to look into as I move into my career!


  4. I like the idea of using social media as a way to better yourself professionally and gather information rather than as a platform to just put things out there, as in your idea of an outward arrow. I have a few boards on Pinterest that I use professionally, like my PR/Publishing board and my Writing tips board. They both come in handy when looking at jobs and writing cover letters. This was a great post bringing attention to the many uses of social media!


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