Twitter follower count is your job security

This past weekend, April 17 and 18, was the Society of Professional Journalists Region One Conference held at the Hofstra University Student Center in Hempstead.

http://https://twitter.com/sbu_spj/status/589543578461982720

The panels that I found most intriguing and beneficial were “How to Brand Yourself” and “Emerging Trends in Photography.” The photography panel allowed guests to witness drone photography in action right there in the Student Center Theater.

While this was amazing to see in person and learn about (helicopter rides for aerial shots go for about $200-750+ an hour), I found the panel on branding oneself a little more valuable.

Bill Corbett, of Corbett Public Relations, Hilary Topper, of HJMT Public Relations, Rob Basso, of Advantage Payroll Services, and Giovanna Drpic, of FiOS1 News were the panelists. It was held in a small room, which kept things intimate.

The panelists explained various ways to market oneself based off of personal talents and interests. One student journalist in the audience asked how to narrow down her focus as a person interested in many topics, to which they responded that it is necessary to pick a single focus and hone.

Corbett, who refers to a cell phones as a “personal marketing device,” displayed his acronym BRAND in a digital presentation that he created. It stands for “believe in yourself and others will follow,” “reputation is your most valuable asset,” “authenticity builds trust,” “name recognition comes from personal marketing” and “determination is required for continued success.”

Corbett then followed this by saying that one’s follower count on Twitter is “job security.”

http://https://twitter.com/bridget_downes/status/589165490045644800

Drpic then explained that she was once asked in an interview, very bluntly, how many Twitter followers she had.

If that number isn’t high, and you haven’t marketed yourself and gained popularity yourself, a potential employer might reject you. Basso backed this up by agreeing that journalists these days have to build a following themselves that they can bring to the company, rather than rely on the company for an audience.

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Social media mayhem before and after JRN 320

Prior to the start of JRN 320, I had attempted to increase my social media presence by starting a Tumblr, where I’d post mostly game and comic reviews and blog posts about whatever nerdy thing I was into at the moment.

I realized that it’s really hard to get Tumblr followers if I’m not posting porn or Doctor Who.

But during the class, I tried something else. I had never live-tweeted an event before taking this class and doing the first assignment, though I was sure I had a solid grasp of what needed to be done for it to work.

Inspired by that assignment, and by what I had seen major gaming sites do in the past, I decided that a weekend trip up to Boston for PAX East 2015, one of the largest video-gaming conventions in the world, would be a prime time for some live-action journalism.

I performed the majority of my live tweets from The Stony Brook Press’s account, as I was trying to boost our social media presence and truth be told, we managed to grab a few followers from outside of Stony Brook.

I did my best to relay a solid amount of all the cool things I saw, including panels from industry insiders providing tips on everything from how to break into the industry, to what makes video game music so great.

By the end of the first day, I realized how exhausting live coverage is, especially when it’s being done entirely from a cell-phone.

By far the worst part was using the WordPress app to upload updates to my article on sbpress.com and having to navigate to Twitter with my phone’s browser to get the embed codes for my tweets.

It was a wonderful experience though, one I hope to do again and relatively often.

Since then, a few other reporters have live-tweeted events from the @SBPress Twitter account, somewhat inspired by my efforts, including the Oscars and Wrestlemania and the NCAA finals, and every time it has garnered the account a few more new followers.

Addicted to Social Media

I have always been social media savvy. My first encounter was when I was 12-years-old and I created a Meetspot, which feels like centuries ago at this point.

At around the age of 13 is when I started living off of Myspace. Constantly posting updates of my dramatic teenage life, and consistent fights over who was in my top eight.

As time progressed Myspace died and I moved onto FaceBook, as did everyone else. Again, posting my everyday life because I found it to be necessary, for whatever reason.

Photo Credit: Crafttruck.com
Photo Credit: Crafttruck.com

It wasn’t until a couple years ago did social media play an actual importance to my life. When I first created a Facebook and Instagram account they were both just in their beginning stages.

Now I use them for networking, receiving news and just keeping up to date with recent trends.

One social media site I wasn’t to fond of was Twitter. That was until my journalism 301 professor suggested to create one and stressed the importance to do so. He went on and on about how crucial it will be for our future jobs and careers.

Photo Credit: Huffingtonpost.com
Photo Credit: Huffingtonpost.com

So naturally I created one. Never used it.

Now, in my current semester, I have finally put Twitter to use. In my journalism 320 class, it was required to use the social site. Other than the class assignments, I still never use it.

Nothing personal against Twitter but I just prefer Facebook and Instagram. Here and there I will ‘Tweet’, still not as often as others. I still have more followers on Instagram than I do Twitter, but I still follow Twitter accounts that I find interesting, though I usually do not check.

All in all I can say throughout this class it has boosted my social media skills in a sense. I’ve never used social media to report a story, so that is something new to add to my list. Also I have never written a blog post before, which I think is the most important skill I have learned so far, and will continue to use and advance.

All aboard the social media express

I have mainly used Facebook and YouTube, if you count that as social media, before the start of this semester. I was not much of a status-poster, page sharer or photo-uploader. I never used Twitter or Instagram until this semester. Now, I post more on Twitter than I do on Facebook and use Instagram more than I ever thought possible.

I do have a Twitter account, but before, I saw Twitter as a joke; a watered down Facebook for those who feel the need to post every little thing. I always said “you can’t spell Twitter without ‘twit.'” The same went for Instagram. I remember talking to someone and he called it the “Facebook for the illiterate.” I didn’t exactly think that, but I think I got what he was trying to say. Needless to say, I did open these accounts to see how I could benefit.

I can say expanding my social media horizons was beneficial. I was able to report on happenings and situations wherever I was.

My biggest on-spot reporting using social media had to be that one Friday morning when it was two degrees, real chilly and I had to get to 320. It was 7:00 a.m. and the train that I and Carlos Cadorniga were supposed to get on was unofficially cancelled. The whole Long Island Rail Road was in shambles that morning with a few broken rails and a disabled train.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 5.27.50 PM

Carlos and I tweeted, with the use of Instagram, about this only to let our amazing and wonderful professor, Mr. Carl Corry, know about our situation. When he and others told us to keep tweeting, we just went along with it. We didn’t even think it would be seen as entertainment or updated news like a breaking news story with details coming along, we just wanted to get to class. At least the class and others got a kick out of our suffering (maybe we should suffer more often?). But when we documented everything that happened, I actually felt like I was getting a real-life, instant experience: tweeting, interviewing, photo and picture taking and posting information on the fly. It reminded me of the whole concept of being quick, but accurate. Granted I could have done things better that day such as getting full names of people I interviewed.

I do retweet stories that are interesting and compelling for others to see. I am following 122 Twitter accounts, both people and groups and I have 43 followers. Some notable followers are, apparently, the co-founder of Activision, a comedian with more than 100,000 followers and some Saudi Arabian airline, by the looks of it. I’m skeptical about the Saudi Arabian airline page, but I’ll leave it for now. Not sure how any of these people found me.

I think I will keep using these social media tools for years to come. If anything new comes out then, I’ll give that an exploration.

Boosting my social media presence

@jiminkim92 on Twitter. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 4, 2015).
@jiminkim92 on Twitter. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 9, 2015).

This semester, my social media presence has grown through my managing the Twitter accounts of my start-up, AllKickboxing, and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Since February, I have gained 60 followers on my Twitter account.

AllKickboxing's Twitter account, @AllKickboxing_ Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 4, 2015).
AllKickboxing’s Twitter account, @AllKickboxing_. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 9, 2015).

I frequently favorite and retweet AllKickboxing’s tweets to help promote its podcast or blog. Through this “double-dipping” promotional strategy, people in the mixed martial arts community have started following my personal Twitter account. For instance, Victor Cui, the CEO of ONE Championship, the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Asia, began following me on Twitter.

Furthermore, on Twitter, I constantly search the hashtags “MMA” and “kickboxing” to engage with people who post tweets that include that hashtag. This has helped me connect with the niche MMA fan base.

For the Alda Center, I take a similar approach by tweeting content using the center’s account and retweeting it on my personal handle. Through retweeting the center’s workshop dates and science contests, scientists and professors have started following me on Twitter. Furthermore, I regularly search the news feed for tweets that use the hashtag “scicomm,” which is short for science communication, to find people who may be interested in the Alda Center’s programs.

(Tweet by @AldaCenter on Twitter promoting a science communication talk).

I have also grown the Facebook account of the Stony Brook University Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. By promoting guest journalism workshops and weekly meetings using SBU-SPJ’s Facebook page and sharing the posts on my own Facebook timeline, I have been attracting attention to the club. I have also made new friends on Facebook who are interested in joining SBU-SPJ.

Facebook page of SBU-SPJ. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 9, 2015).

Furthermore, I have learned a valuable lesson on how to properly use hashtags. An Instagram post allows a maximum of 30 hashtags. But, hashtags increase the size of your post and take up more real estate in the Instagram feed. Thus, people are likely to ignore a post that’s heavy with hashtags for breaking social media etiquette. Since decreasing the number of hashtags, my Instagram posts for AllKickboxing have generated more favorites.

I really look forward to cultivating my social media presence even more.

Freedom from Addiction

Heather Manson, a 20-year-old Brooklyn native, sees freedom in a different way than others. At the age of 13, Manson started her abuse of drugs.

Growing up in a household of addiction Manson feels that she was trapped in a lifestyle she would eventually fall into. Stating that in the area of Brooklyn she lived in, being on drugs seemed to be more of a norm. After years of struggling with this vicious life cycle her family went through, she decided there was more to life.

With the final decision to move away to Florida, she was able to free her self from the demons she lived with.

Stony Brook Foodies

College students often face a dilemma when it comes to eating. They want to have something tasty and new that will not break the bank.

The photo story, “Fun and cheap eats around Stony Brook” may be a solution to that issue. By traveling around Stony Brook University, Kryssy Massa and Nicole Falletta were able to discover discounts and deals available to students that they otherwise may not have known about.

The pair not only took photos of the food, but also made sure to photograph the eatery’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is a huge aspect of a restaurant and gives the reader an idea of where they are eating instead of just what they are eating.

Something good about this photo story is that the pair spoke to chefs and workers at each place they visited. This gave background and further information, which could be useful to the reader and students. Being able to place a face to a name, as Kryssy and Nicole did with Latitude 121 and The Curry Club could make someone more likely to visit a restaurant.

Speaking to customers was also a great idea because it gave the opinion of someone not affiliated with the restaurant.

The only thing that could have improved the post would be getting a variety of shots. The pictures of food were all taken straight on at a similar distance. Getting pictures extremely close up or from a different angle could have shown the food from a different perspective.

A difficulty that I faced while shooting pictures for my own photo story was making sure I captured different aspects of people’s outfits. I wanted to find something that made a person’s outfit unique or captured their personality, and I think this assignment gave me the opportunity to work on just that.