Social Media

How I Became Involved in Social Media and What I’ve Learned So Far

Like most college seniors, I joined Facebook freshman year of college. My very first Facebook friends were people from high school and the girls that lived on my floor at Verder Hall at Kent State. I was in it for purely social purposes. I didn’t see it, or sites like it, as something that could potentially play a significant role in my career.

Freshman year (fall of 2005) was also the first time I heard about blogs, during Intro to Mass Communication class. There, I – along with 400 of my “classmates” – heard my professor lecture about the incoming threat of the DUN DUN DUN – Citizen Journalists! Run for your liiiiiivvvvessss. The BLOGGERS are COMING!

The topic of blogging was explained very much in terms of how newspaper and magazine journalism majors better beware, because the bloggers are here to take your jobs.

Throughout college, Facebook remained a place for casual conversation, and albums of some now-deleted pictures. (Like that picture of your passed out roommate spooning the inflatable you-know-what she gave you for your 21st birthday? Yup. Delete those, kids.) It was a way for me to keep in touch with friends, especially when they studied abroad and it wasn’t as easy to just send a text or make a call. (Mark Zuckerburg, I’m thankful for that.) Then came the newsfeeds, and then the grown-ups joined Facebook, and then the applications were added. Now, any business willing to give five minutes to creating a page can have its own place/idenity in the social medium.

I didn’t care about blogs until I had to search them for Kodak coverage at my internship last summer. This prompted me to discover different blogs that I could read on my own. As an infamously reluctant waitress, angry server blogs – most notably, Waiter Rant – profoundly resonated with me. I also discovered Culpwrit (a great source of advice for PR students) around that time.

Fall of senior year, I took a class called Introduction to Digital Media. Inundated with blog, wiki, podcast, Flash, and Second Life projects up to wazoo, I felt both overwhelmed and intrigued at the vastness of the social media environment. I began to see how drastically and quickly the flow of information was changing. However, it took a riveting personal experience for me to comprehend the change.

In November, my friend died in a tragic accident. She was walking down the road and got hit by a truck. For me, the news of this accident was met with unexpected devastation. We swam together in middle school, and I hadn’t spoken to her since high school. Nonetheless, I was blindsided by grief. I’m not a crier, but I wept for days, fixated on news updates of her condition.

She lingered in the ICU that weekend, and the local news reported her changing condition with statuses that were both vague and cliche. “Seriously injured” and “critical condition” were among the updates. I will note two important things about my experience in searching for information about her status:

1. The most up-to-date information was on a Facebook group created to promote a candle-light vigil in her honor. People who had actually visited her or talked to people who had visited shared what information they knew by writing on the wall for the group. As opposed to waiting another ten hours for the next news story – wall posts were made sometimes within just minutes of each other. They weren’t journalists, they were friends, and that made a difference in how their information was perceived.

2. The interactivity of regular news revealed a nasty side to Web 2.0. People who never knew her freely commented on the situation beneath the news stories on the website. She died on a Sunday night, but people starting posting “RIP” things on Friday morning. Now, as you can see with this news story, someone moderates the comments and deletes those reported as “abuse.” But gems like this comment feed continue to flow through cyberspace. Some of these comments make me sick.

This event shook me to the core, and inspired to me to reconsider many things in my life – including but hardly limited to my ideas of what news is. I recognized once and for all that media had changed. Gone were the days when just the reporters had the authority on information. Comment posts held an authority all their own, and information was taken out of the headlines and put back into the conversations exchanged between friends.

If the media changed, I realized PR had changed. And if PR had changed – I had to stand up and face the fact that my career was going to look a lot different than I anticipated.

Since November, I’ve embarced on a personal journey through social media. I began by re-activating my Twitter account (I did it in Septemeber for maybe a week, but didn’t initially see the appeal) and reading a variety of PR and career-advice blogs (especially Penelope Trunk!) This post from a PR pro at Schneider Associates is a great example of a lot of the consensus that I’ve run into, which is that social media is and will be an integral part of my PR future.

I’ve joined a wide variety of sites to experiment and get a feel for what is out there. To be honest, this is one of those self-guided tours, and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of times. But I’ve never been afraid to make mistakes, to allow myself to have unintentional experiences that teach me something. I take responsibility for what I put out there. I like to, well, JK JK a lot – but don’t be mistaken: I do take this seriously.

I’ve read that when it comes to Twitter and blogging, you should not only consume information, but contribute it. As a social media newbie, what do I have to say that people will get some use out of? Now don’t get me wrong, I promise to share to share only the top echelon – the most valuable – of LOLcat photos and FAILblog posts with my legion of loyal followers. But other than that, what do I have to say about PR, social media, internships etc. that will actually be worthwhile?

How worthwhile this is, that is for you to decide. But after the experiences I’ve had, I feel confident enough to share a conclusion I’ve come to:

We are citizen journalists. As a former newspaper journalism major, I’m happy to say that I’ve reclaimed my own job and found my own place with blogging. Ethics is a strong focus in traditional journalism, and I think that we can and should begin to apply those ideals to what we blog, comment, post, tweet, tag, etc. Nobody’s perfect. But we can try…harder.

I don’t think that how we edit ourselves should be simply a matter of PG-rating, personal branding and etiquette. Based on my experience, that isn’t necessarily enough pressure or accountability for many people contributing their two-cents on the internet.

Don’t underestimate yourself. People are reading, and the comments you make on news stories, the posts you make on Facebook – have consequences. As a journalist, would you publish something inaccurate on the front page of your paper? No. So as a citizen journalist, maybe it’s not the best idea to blog, comment, post, tag, or tweet information that is inaccurate, particularily when it’s regarding a sensitive topic – for instance, the death of a beautiful, smart, athletic, funny, talented young girl.

Groups like the Society of Professional Journalists have a code of ethics helping support and direct the moral compasses of reporters. Together, citizen journalists must continuously work to establish a standard of what is right.

So until next time,

Become an organ donor. Learn something new. Write what you feel even when it hurts.

JNA

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25 Things

Have you guys seen this on Facebook? It’s amazing how may people are doing this. By each person tagging 25 people in each post, it’s spreading like wildfire! How cool! Just shows there’s something about S and M. (Social media, that is.)

Here’s my “25 Things” post:

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.

At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. First and foremost of the random things: I am a proud MILLENNIAL. I’m sick and tired of all the stuck up research that suggests that people my age are entitled, lazy, praise junkies spoiled by participation awards. Millenials – the flip-flop wearing, Starbucks-drinking, Legends of the Hidden Temple-watching, photo-tagging, wall-writing, tweeting, texting types – are full of potential and optimism. I’m proud to be of a generation full of people unafraid to leave a job if they are unhappy, full of open-minded people who care about what matters most – and that’s each other. <3

2. One day, I will miss being a waitress.

3. Apparently, I have a pattern for dating guys with names starting with “J.” I always love an alliteration.

4. I want to get the word “Ambition” tattooed on my foot. (In Edwardian Script)

5. I think I’m a heck of a lot more fun than I was in high school.

6. I want a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (a tri-color) and I want to name her Carrie. Yes, after that Carrie.

7. I didn’t become a journalist, but I don’t feel like a sell-out. I didn’t get into my dream school, but I don’t feel like a failure.

8. I still have my rejection letter from Newhouse hanging on my wall. I’ll keep it forever.

9. I’ve often wondered how my life would have turned out if I stayed in Ohio.

10. Red velvet cake = the best.

11. I love Twitter! (@JanetAronica)

12. Sometimes I laugh things off instead of dealing with them.

13. I like being a nerd.

14. I really wish I could do a one-armed push up.

15. I brush my teeth like five times a day and feel like something is missing if I’m not wearing perfume.

16. I want to be a bartender.

17. I want to get married in the fall and have the reception under a tent.

18. I went vegetarian in August. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. I actually love tofu.

19. I will never forgive myself for going to Naz because the Comm program there was a JOKE. I’m bitter!

20. But at the same time, I’m glad I was Co-Editor of The Gleaner and got to meet my love, Heather Butterfield

21. I have a website. http://www.janetaronica.com

22. I know I work too hard…

23. …No, I don’t think I’ll ever change.

24. Don’t get lemons in restaurants. Just don’t.

25. If I could meet me when I was 12, I’d tell me I’m beautiful. If I could meet me when I was 16, I’d tell me to take it one day at a time. If I could meet me when I was 18, I’d tell me to to go to Fisher. If I could meet me when I was 20, I’d tell me to be careful who I trust. If I could meet me at this time last year, I’d tell me to just have fun. I met me in the mirror this morning, and I told myself that I may not be perfect but I turned out just fine.

There you have it! And if you read this, heck why not – add me on Facebook.

Until next time,

Stay warm. Make an “already done” list. YouTube “Power Thirst.”

-JNA

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Google Yo Name, Son

I’ve heard lately that among HR managers, Googling the names of potential employees is all the rage. (http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/10/6-tools-to-monitor-your-online.html). As a soon-to-be college graduate and potential employee extraordinaire, I’m very interested in this.

I didn’t care that much about Googling my name until recently. In my opinion, there are millions of more interesting things to Google than “Janet Aronica.”

I did this back in November, receiving the expected results: social media accounts, newspaper articles from my journalism days, swimming competition results, running times – evidence of an overly-involved life full of physical activity and extracurricular achievement. But something new, to my horror and annoyance, popped up as about the fifth results on Google.

Let’s back up to briefly discuss the computer virus I got back in October. The HPV of computer bugs, if you will. This thing got into my Fisher email account and sent out tens of thousands of spam emails to everyone all across the planet. These spam emails basically said:

“Hi my name is Mrs. Janet Aronica. You’ve won a bagillion quadzillion dollars. Please just send me your bank account number and pin so I can deposit the money in your account.”

I know…

One of these emails got to author Jane Green. She blogged about it, talking all about how crazy this Mrs. Janet Aronica was for trying to scam people. My name was all over the post and it was kind of embarrassing.

I responded to the post with a comment that in so many words explained:

“Hi, I’m Janet Aronica. There is no Mrs. Janet Aronica. I had a virus in my email account and that is why you got this email. Sorry for any inconveinence that the email caused. I don’t want anything to do with your bank information, but I do want a job when I graduate. This post makes me look like a jerk, and I don’t want HR managers to think that if they Google my name and see this. Please delete this post.”

It’s crisis communication, duh.

Within 15 minutes she, or somebody, got back to me with a sincere apology and a notification that she deleted the post. Then she mailed me a copy of her book as an “I’m sorry” gift.

Honestly, that’s an even better response than I could’ve asked for. I really respected it. That’s PR.

There was some more stuff posted on other sites regarding these scam emails. I’m still trying to contact people and clean up the situation so I don’t look like a money-swindling creepo.

How much do I care what people think about me? How important is this online reputation? It’s tough to explain. The people that know me best – the people I care about most – know where these emails came from. Quite frankly, they think it’s another hilarious example of Janet struggling with computers, and life. (Hey, I earned the nickname Struggles somehow.) But the people who know me well enough to know that aren’t the HR managers who could hire me somewhere down the line.

In conclusion, the answer is yes, I do care about my online reputation. And when it comes to looking good for the HR people, I have to be my own PR person.

So until next time…

Take a nap. Hug somebody. Google your name. -JNA

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Personal Branding for Less-Than Beginners

Describe yourself. I could describe my friends, my family, my co-workers, and my dog with eloquence and accuracy. But me? I think that’s hard to do subjectively. If you’re hard to describe, you’re hard to define; and if you’re hard to define, you’re really hard to brand.

Each and every single one of us is a complicated, exquisite constellation of sometimes contradicting traits – the fabric of our individuality. I have a suspicion that you are just as multi-faceted as me. I like high heels and sweatpants, Tom Petty and Rihanna, reisling and cabernet, the city and the beach. How do you streamline that? How do you take that personality and translate that into a brand?

It’s been said that life isn’t about finding yourself – it’s about creating yourself. You could create any brand you want. I could’ve made a site that presented me as cutting edge and credible (http://www.ben-grossman.com/), or a sexy social media maven (http://tastyblogsnack.com/). But the truth is: I don’t want to be anyone else because it is just too damn fun to be me.

That whole “just be yourself” mantra is pretty vague and useless as far as advice goes. I think that when it comes to branding, yes, be yourself – but with purpose. Identify the result you want to get from your involvement in social networks and present yourself accordingly. Don’t hide who you are, but accentuate the things about you that will render the result you want.

My intended result: I want a PR job. The hardworking, talented, ambitious “go out and get yourself an internship” side of me is the side that will get me a job. So I’m going to post my resume, blog about PR stuff I do, and show that I have a vested interest (or rather, a passion) for this industry. I’ll even go so far as to capitalize most of my words and avoid dropping f-bombs. I’m a professional, duh.

On the other hand, boring people don’t work in PR. I don’t necessarily have to hide the silly, square peg side of me. It’s good that I think outside the box. (Actually, I cross the street to find the nearest triangle. Then I run a few laps around the triangle before I sit outside of it Indian style and pick daisies while I brainstorm.) My dream is that my creativity and willingness to think different will one day lead to a really great job opportunity.

So specifically how am I branding myself in this way?

  • Blog posts: My goal is to take time once a week to produce well-written posts that have great content and lots of personality. I added the WordPress widget on LinkedIn and will Tweet about new posts as to draw traffic/attention.
  • The waitressing blog: I’m keeping it. It’s funny and honest. That’s a worthwhile side of me to share. But I’ll only Tweet about the ones with minimal cursing and innuendos ( in case people judge me for that sort of thing.)
  • Design: This website was inspired by a lot of things. I got general design ideas from a bunch of themes on Tumblr, and CCS’d the WordPress Cutline theme to make it look this way. As far as color goes, my initial inclination was to do Victoria’s Secret pinks, magentas, and fushias. However, I am acutely aware that I come off pretty girly when I talk about boys, puppies, and shoes. There is no reason to reinforce that with Hello Kitty color schemes. Because that would be like, OMG totally overbearing and stuff lol haha <33333.
  • To N or not to N: My full name is Janet (Jan – it) Nicole Aronica (A-ron-ick-ah). I introduce myself as Janet Aronica, but I sign my name as Janet N. Aronica. I flip between the two. I considered if this was a problem when naming my domain one thing and writing my name at the top of my resume as another, but then I considered that maybe Janet Aronica is an abbreviation for Janet N. Aronica. Or maybe it’s an interchangable nomanclature – like The City versus Circuit City. (And seeing how well that’s going for them…) Today versus The Today Show is another example.

So there you have it. That is the personal branding I’ve developed so far. A last thing I’m trying to develop: A catchy salutation. Here’s one for this week:

Eat your veggies. Tip your waitress. Tell your mom thank you. – JNA

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Welcome!

Welcome to the all-new http://www.janetaronica.com! I’m very excited about this.

Special thanks to Jesse, who – if oh so slightly reluctantly – helped me build a site that is “so Janet.”

You’ll find cool shiz on here. I’m going to use this space to write about PR, internships, student-run firms, social media, and entry-level job searches. (If you’re familiar with my other blog, you aware of how…”opinionated” I am. I have lots to say about these topics and I’m pumped about getting the conversations started.) Then there’s my resume and bio, along with the blogroll – or as we call it in Janet World – “hotties.”

I think blogrolls are a conversation topic in and of themselves. I wanted to connect with like-minded PR people, so this is my way of reaching out. If you are on the blogroll, you fit into one of three categories:

  1. You are my real-life friend. I love you! Your blog isn’t too bad, either. 😉
  2. We’ve talked. You’re really nice! I like your blog and I think you are talented.
  3. I’ve never talked to you. You may not know I exist. But you’re probably nice, I like your blog, and you are most certainly talented. Let’s be friends!

So what to do about blogrolls? Is it creepy to just add people to your blogroll even if a) you don’t necessarily have permission or b) don’t personally know them? Is it flattering, or freaky? I feel like kids my age are especially sensitive to the “creep factor” in social media. Personally, I think adding fellow-bloggers to your blogroll is friendly – and a huge compliment. It says that you care to align your brand with their website because you think they are just that awesome. On the other hand, the hairy adult learner that Facebook pokes freshman girls probably thinks that he, too, is just friendly.

I once heard that social media is like a cocktail party. Like learning what to do with the end of that shrimp hor d’oeuvre (beats me) or learning to keep your elbows off the table (still working on that), there’s an etiquette to these things. My solution? I say throw on your cocktail dress (or a tuxedo t-shirt, because it says ‘I wanna be formal, but I’m here to party’), ask lots of questions, and join the party.

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