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Self-Censorship to Sell Yourself: Targeting Your Social Media

Dana Staton

I ran into a problem earlier this summer. Like many just-grads desperately searching for a job to call home, we had to do the unthinkable: censor our social media. Countless professors, parents, friends and random strangers kept stressing the importance of first impressions, especially when they are online. It’s not that just-grads don’t understand the magnitude of a first impression, but instead that we have literally grown up online. It seems since the advent of social media, it has fully engrained itself in every aspect of our lives.

There is a lot of pressure to use social media specifically for professional and networking purposes. Incorporating both professional and personal tweets is exhausting and difficult to truly grasp either group. Because we’ve expressed ourselves honestly on social media for so long (almost seven years if I’m counting correctly), it’s difficult to imagine being fake to our social media community i.e. everyone who’s anyone. It seems that to excel in PR, you should follow anyone and everyone, and spend your day retweeting the most interesting, worldly articles pertaining to the field, case studies, breaking news and providing witty social commentary. As much as I appreciate a good news story, some of my followers might not.

To have a successful Twitter, two things are essential: content and followers. The problem as a young professional is figuring out where to draw the line. These two groups, your friends and professional network, aren’t necessarily opposites, just extremely different, and thus view you differently as well. One accidental tweet to the wrong following could confuse your friends or hinder work relationships.

In comes (drum roll) my genius idea. Although I’m not the first by any means to have two Twitter accounts, I am the one writing this blog and therefore this is my most revolutionary, innovative (insert ten more adjectives meaning really cool and intelligent) idea yet. Two twitters. How simple; this is the solution to every potential social media problem. From a PR standpoint, it is necessary to please all target audiences, and two separate Twitter accounts accomplishes just that. Word choice, content and strategic pitching all stem from researching what each group wants and expects.

The desired reaction in PR is usually a placement, brand awareness, attendance at an event, or purchasing the product. Twitter is simpler, and the goal there is to gain followers, get mentioned and retweeted. Now I have a platform to post all of the interesting and informative articles I find during my morning media monitoring and another to retweet a baby picture of my friend on her birthday. There is no reason my professional group needs to see a baby wearing a bonnet, nor for my friends to learn about the top ways to get your press release read. If Intro to Public Relations taught us anything, it’s that specific targeting yields significantly better results than a mass release. Why should we treat social media any differently?