Using Social Media in Communication: An Interview with Keren Ritchie

Today, I conducted a Skype interview with Keren Ritchie in my social media class. Keren received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is currently a M.I.A. (Master of International Affairs) degree candidate at Columbia University. Her experience in social media ranges from non-for-profit to for-profit organizations. So, what are her thoughts on using social media in communication?

Keren’s Work Experience in Social Media

  • While there is not much difference among organizations as an effective social media strategy can work for different entities, businesses in general allow more freedom and creativity in using social media for communication; government agents are more careful regarding the content being communicated.
  • Social media policy is very important for every organization, but surprisingly, few organizations she worked for had established clear guidelines of using social media. “Many companies’ social media policies are more reactive; a good social media policy will allow organizations to be more proactive in responding to what is happening in social media.” As a result, whoever can develop social media strategies and write social media policies is “golden” in job search.
  • As to which department should write the social media policy for the organization, Keren pointed to the Communication Department. I believe that social media should be included in an organization’s integrated business strategy because social media can be used in PR, HR, Marketing, and more. Accordingly, if the Communication Department oversees an organization's social media activities in different departments, it will work. Otherwise, the executive committee that develops integrated strategy should draft the social media policy for the organization. What are your opinions on this issue?

Trends in Social Media

  • Many companies are “afraid” of social media because they don’t know how to use it. Seeing the opportunities and advantages of using social media in business, more companies will realize the importance of social media. They must use social media in order to stay competitive --- Avon is a good example of failing for not being able to catch up with the social media trends in competition.
  • Organizations should hire at least one dedicated person to manage their social media channels. If budget is an issue, a manager should oversee such activities. Small business with limited resources is advised to use those “widely-reach” platforms with built-in integrated applications (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube). Without a dedicated person who consistently updates relevant content on social media, it is difficult to engage the audience.

Using Social Media in Job Search

  • Networking is still the key, especially for those vacancies that are not even publicized. LinkedIn and other social media tools can certainly help people build a network online, but the “personal connections” cannot be completely replaced by a virtual network.
  • Students and job seekers are advised to acquire the following transferable skills: having (and being able to demonstrate) strong communication skills (verbal and written), knowing the relevant trends of the field, paying attention to details, multitasking/multi-talented (e.g. having the skill sets of writing, administration, and strategic planning), and the ability of know-how (e.g. using WordPress and making YouTube videos).
  • Graduate school is a great place for networking. Alumni are often very helpful, for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Thank you, Keren for sharing her valuable advice of using social media in communication. What additional suggestions will you give to us?

Please visit http://sfy.co/qTg to read more about our Storify story for today’s interview.

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