Using Social Media Wisely, part 2: How to Make Social Media Work for You

using social media wiselyLast week, I wrote about some of the ways that missteps in social media can damage your professional – and maybe even your personal reputation. Next, we want to take a look at how you can use social media in a way that makes it work in your favor in two very important ways: Your education and your job search. This week, let’s take a look at how social media plays an important role in your education.

According to a recent study by Pew Research, more than 80 percent of all secondary educators use social media or mobile tools as part of their day-to-day classroom assignments. It’s not uncommon for a teacher to have a account to house class-appropriate reference materials, or to use tools like Blackboard as a repository for syllabi and assignments.

When educators do this, not only do they leverage relevant technology, they also help students develop important skills and prepare them for future undergraduate work or career paths. Incorporating social media into daily classroom activities – using channels like Twitter, slide share, flickr, and YouTube® – teaches students the value of sharing, collaboration, and support.

As a 100% online university, Grantham University faculty and students work together via a wide range of social media platforms and technology services. Students are not required to be software developers, but the goal is to make sure that they have a reliable Internet connection and a current operating system. Faculty conduct classes in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. In an asynchronous system, students communicate independently with the instructor and classmates, complete reading and assignments and turn them in at a predetermined deadline. In a synchronous system, students meet via teleconference or chat directly with the professor and classmates.

Community chats, Facebook, and Twitter offer students a way to connect, compare notes on professors or coursework, and provide valuable insight into life as a Grantham student. If I were a prospective student looking at online programs, I would highly recommend taking a close look at these channels. You can learn a lot about a school based on how people talk about it in social media: Are the students respectful of each other and the faculty? Does it support the needs of military students, spouses or veterans? What kind of support is available to students with disabilities?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen is “Be social. Don’t ‘do’ social.” This means that you should take an active role in the development of your own online persona. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and thank people for their feedback. Know your school’s social media usage policies. If you plan to enter a particular professional field, you need to start observing relevant social media usage policies and standards now rather than later. For example, if you’re planning to go into social work, you’ll want to know what professional social workers can and cannot say or do in social media.

Social media is a way of life for most people, and it’s become so ingrained in life that we forget sometimes what a truly game-changing tool it can be. It’s a phenomenal way to work with people all over the globe, letting people not only communicate, but share resources, tools, and ideas. When you use it carefully and deliberately, it can help you prepare for the educational and professional world.


Ms. Shelly has spent more than a decade working in higher education. She currently serves as executive vice president for Grantham Education Corporation. Ms. Shelly is passionate about changing lives – about making college education accessible and affordable to more people and preparing students and graduates for success.


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