Communications and media used to be the realm of professionals. Men and women in suits communicated on our behalf to corporations and the same suits communicated back to us through the media. The internet began to break down these suits by involving people in their news through comment sections and email listservs. Social media and blogging has all but destroyed the wall of professionalism that used to define communications. Everyday people are becoming producers of content and using social media as their outlet to disseminate the information they’ve found. These citizen journalists are reinventing how the media and communications operate.
Since everyday people now acting as the voice of the news or an organization, it is becoming more important that we all learn about best practices for social media, in case we are ever put in the position of being a professional communicator on an issue. Part of this is learning how to be authentic while retaining professionalism. Entrepreneur posted an article on creating authenticity for a company’s online voice. They suggest that language is very important. For example, small companies can get away with abbreviations such as “gr8” but large companies should shy away from this practice. And despite the informality of social media, correct grammar is still important.
Then there are best practices for content depending on the social media site. Pinterest has been getting a lot of attention lately on Twitter. This article gives some dos and don’ts for businesses creating a Pinterest account. Brands are encouraged to have a presence on Pinterest and to post content that shows the brand’s inspiration, interests, and products. But like any social platform, followers will not tolerate over-posting and cross-posting the same content.
Social media practices also depend on who is using it. A company’s strategy and practices will be much different from a nonprofit’s. There are a lot of resources becoming available for nonprofit social media usage. This presentation on SlideShare is part of a series called 50 Social Media Tactics and gives platform-specific tips and practices just for nonprofits. Mashable also did an infographic displaying statistics on how nonprofits are using social media.
There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet about using social media no matter the platform or organization using them. It is up to us as users and future professional communicators to be well-informed about these practices and strategies when our citizen journalism moment comes.