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Are You a Contributor?

September 29, 2010
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I consider myself an active member of social networks.  I join the newest groups, like Twitter and Foursquare.  I download the recommended applications, like TwitPic and UStream.  I continually check updates and news stories on TweetDeck.  However, after a few sporadic tweets, I revert to my comfort zones, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Why is that?  Does anyone else do this? 

Not long ago, Twitter was to me the AIM for teens and college students.  As a working professional, why would I need to know about Twitter?  It’s just one more thing I’d need to learn, check and update.  But, when NBC and Fox News began publicizing its Twitter accounts, my attention was piqued.  Initially, broadcaster’s joked about the “tweets” and yet, within a few months the term became just as common as “visit us at http://www.”  

So, my inner Curious George won out and I created an account, (I welcome followers).  Wow – let’s just say –an overload of information and decisions.  Who do I follow? Who will follow me? How do I “DM” (direct message) or repost someone’s comments? If this is overwhelming for me, and I consider myself somewhat tech savvy, how would people, many who can’t operate smartphones, learn to do this? 

I still wonder about this. But a year later, I can appreciate how Twitter generates value for everyday people and businesses by providing unlimited avenues for entrepreneurs, artists, journalists, writers, PR pros and so on to share their ideas.  The human connection stimulates a conversation amongst strangers, who can discuss, educate, rate, promote and learn about topics relating to current events, hobbies, work, sales, shoes, health – you name it!  The point is that ignoring the trends limits you from exploring the possibilities of untapped knowledge, connection and ingenuity.

Case in Point: Ryan Osborn, journalist since 2002 at the “The Today Show,” recently became the first social media director at NBC.  In 2007, his love of music led him to the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, but his insight and vision brought Twitter home to the “The Today Show” where he embarked on a new approach to reach audiences.  MediaShift’s Mark Glaser’s interview outlines Osborn’s predictions on the future of Twitter, social media and its contributors.

Returning to my initial question, why, knowing this, do I still choose to watch instead of participate in new technologies? Basically, it comes down to:

  1. Lack of technical skills.
  2. Sense of smallness in the sea of mass media.
  3. “Too far behind the eight ball” to catch up.

Does this ring true with anyone else?

To be candid, I am writing this blog because I am a graduate candidate in the public relations and corporate communication program at New York University and it is a required assignment.  (Note – this is how important social media is for the future of business.) So, I am nervous but excited to have to spend the next 10 weeks participating in social media. My goal for this class and for the coming years is to overcome my apprehensions and to be an active contributor to social networking sites, while building a network of contacts. I hope to engage readers and friends each week in a witty yet introspective conversation about social media and its relevance to the public relations profession, as well as everyday life.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 2:18 am

    Katie, you are definitely not the only one feeling this way. So many of us are in the same boat! 🙂

    I, for one, have (until recently) been most comfortable as a spectator and conversationalist on the internet, rather than a contributor. Lack of technical skills and awareness of the myriad social media outlets available today have definitely paid a huge part in my online preferences.

    However, as future PR professionals (hopefully!), we are just beginning to learn how important it is to explore, understand and monitor such online media so that we can take advantages of the opportunities they offer – for customer interaction, product awareness, brand promotion, and what not.

    While the once-a-week blogging assignment seemed a bit tedious at first, I am now glad that it forces on us the reality of accelerating world of social media today… and reminds us how critical it is to adapt to it.

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