We have seen a growing trend in 2012 as people shifting the focus on the voice of authority when it comes to media. Meaning, we are seeing more people using various social media platforms not just to connect and network with others, but use these platforms to be their voice that is directly targeted to their followers, instead of relying on the media to be the gatekeeper in this equation.
Athletes have been a particular audience who has used social media to communicate directly with their fans – in good times and in challenging times as well. Individual professionals in public relations are establishing themselves as well on these networks to build their influence and expand their expertise in a particular area. Look at how some of the leading professionals like Brian Solis, Mark Schaefer, Jason Falls, and others are building their communities and sharing their voice across multiple platforms?
So, the question arises – can professors also become the media as well? Of course – in fact, I think this is going to be a growing expectation for those of us who are researching, teaching, and consulting in emerging media. How can professors become the media exactly? Here are a few tips I have regarding this:
- Always have a mindset of being a student: We have to continue learning and growing our toolkit and library of knowledge when it comes to emerging media because it is always changing and evolving.
- Establish your personality online and have a presence: I always tell my students they need to find their own personality and voice online. So many times we see students in the classroom try to write a blog to fit a “cookie-cutter” frame for their blog. My advice is to write what you are passionate about and showcase your personality at the same time. Be interactive and share your perspective while noting what you can offer to the community that no one else has done yet.
- Know the tool that would be most helpful for communicating your voice in various circles: This means, you have to look at what platform and tool you can use for various communities. For example, I am using Twitter for communicating a lot with my friends online who are active on social media, sports, and crisis communications – as well as for teaching purposes as well. Facebook has been my primary platform for networking along with LinkedIn, but I have used Instagram for visual storytelling purposes and travel experiences are showcased on Ptch. However, the ultimate hub for me with all of these platforms is of course my blog and website. You have to think about what works best for you and your brand when it comes to your online presence and voice.
- Be active and consistent online with your interactions and conversations: You want to make sure you have a presence on a regular basis on the platforms you have established. Some of these are going to require more frequency than others, but this is something you have to think about and consider. If people are relying for you for content whether it is for research, teaching, or consulting – you have to be aware of this.
- Share a variety of information that is useful and relevant to your online persona and voice: Whether it is interesting trends or relevant articles in the field or even real-time updates from class / conferences / or momentous events, you should try to share these with your communities when they are relevant.
- Lastly, the best spokesperson for you is yourself: Whether you are reporting great and exciting news or addressing even a crisis situation – the best person who can represent you is yourself. You need to take ownership of your voice and address your various audiences online in a honest, transparent, and authentic manner.
In summary, we are seeing the trend in the workplace and in other industries of professionals bypassing the traditional media gatekeepers by establishing their own network to communicate directly with their audiences. This is going to be something professors and fellow researchers to take note of and be aware of for themselves. If we are telling our students of these trends, one way we can establish credibility in this regard is to practice what we preach and follow through with these same practices as well.
Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas!!