As social media cements itself into all aspects of our lives, we can see the impact it has on people’s reputations, consumer culture, self-expression, and identity. Our profiles, whether we like it or not, are extensions of ourselves. We have the power to curate our digital persona. As someone who uses social media in professional settings and for professional purposes, I understand the value of social media professionalism. Hearing stories of public figures getting canceled for their old Tweets or seeing brands get a mass influx of hate comments for an insensitive social media campaign just solidifies this value. Digital actions can have real-life consequences. But in a world of delete buttons, seemingly anonymous profiles, and memes, how do we retain a sense of professionalism in the online world? How do brands, organizations, and corporations navigate the chaotic waters of social media?
Your favorite brands, organizations, public figures, and companies are on social media. Some are commenting under TikToks, some are maintaining a meticulously-planned feed, and some are collaborating with your favorite internet personalities. Digital multimedia is the new way for brands and organizations to engage with their audience, their customers, and others in their industries. Social media profiles are online portfolios and advertisements.
As the Head Social Media Editor of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian here at UMass and the Facebook Coordinator of Her Campus UMass, I manage a brand’s social media presence daily. I create eye-catching content, schedule posts based on engagement metrics, and coordinate with others in my organization to showcase our work. It isn’t easy to maintain various accounts, especially when they have very different brand tones. The Daily Collegian’s mission is; “delivering crucial information to students and the community in an accurate and timely manner” while Her Campus describes itself as; “a community of BFFs that love to tag each other in memes, talk about sex, and share the best skincare tips.” Not the same vibe at all!
At the Collegian, articles have to be posted on almost a daily basis at predetermined times for maximum exposure. Social media copy for a newspaper has to be professionally written, concise, and serious. In a fast-paced newsroom, it’s crucial that articles are posted in a timely manner. Sometimes a piece of breaking news will be sent to me by an editor that I will need to post right away!
At the Her Campus UMass Facebook account, I have more control over what I post and how I post it. I can use emojis freely, utilize puns and slang in my posts, and promote articles in a variety of orders. I still maintain a schedule for consistent posting and engagement, but I am given a little more creative freedom with how I decide to curate content.
Although brands tend to stick to their original brand image online, I’ve noticed more and more that corporations have begun to post outside of the box. They will post memes on Twitter, reply to comments with jokes, and try to seem more personable. Personifying a brand is an interesting engagement strategy that works because it alters the public's perception of corporations as cold, unfeeling, and stoic. However, choosing to not personify a brand in a trendy way is not necessarily detrimental to a company either. Social media profiles are presentations of oneself. A brand's reputation matters, especially as they increase their digital footprint. In the era of screenshots, cancel culture, and nonstop scrutiny, it’s important to recognize the importance of social media professionalism.
In today’s digitally-powered world, social media has taken a starring role in many of our lives. For many companies to keep their spotlight, they have to manage their online presence. Social media gives organizations the opportunity to tell their own narrative without third-party opinions traditionally shown in mass media. Brand-building isn’t just limited to logos and press releases. Social media is a highlight reel for companies just as much as it is for individuals like you and me.