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: https://www.pinterest.com/teachers/
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.