Beyond Personal Accounts: 

Can Courses on Social Media Help a Company’s Online Reputation?

It is no exaggeration that social media plays a giant role in our personal lives. We tweet our thoughts on Twitter, post our vacation pictures on Instagram, celebrate birthdays of relatives you haven’t spoken to in decades on Facebook, and attempt the latest trends on Tiktok. If you can make electronic evidence of a thought or experience, there is a social media platform for it. However, social media isn’t only for pictures of your dog and trendy dances people will forget in a week, it’s also for companies to advertise themselves to you. In their article, “Teaching Tweeting: Recommendations for Teaching Social Media Work in LIS and MSIS Programs” Rachel Simons, Melissa Ocepeck, and Lecia Barker ask an important question: Would a course on how to professionally use social media be useful? The simple answer is yes. It is important to remember that “…just because someone knows how to use Facebook/Twitter doesn’t make them a successful social media professional…” (Simon 28). 

By creating an online persona, companies can  interact with potential customers and build brand loyalty, whether it be by  cleverly marketing their sales or starting an argument with their competitor on Twitter. This humanization of companies has created a whole new field for advertising and marketing experts to play. The only issue is that there is no real guideline on f how to use social media to your advantage. If not done well, you can be met with major backlash. There are two main camps that these failures fall into: professionals not understanding social media and professionals not taking it seriously. A great example of the first camp that Simon touched on was JC Penney’s “tweeting with mittens” campaign. The campaign did garner a lot of attention, but it was mostly negative. Many users saw the campaign as confusing, and the egregious number of typos made the account appear to be “drunk.” An example of professionals treating these accounts unprofessionally would be the fast-food twitter arguments. Starting around 2018 it was almost impossible to scroll through Twitter and not come across a tweet from McDonald’s or Wendy’s or another fast-food restaurant being sassy with one another. At first, it was funny to see them bicker about who had the best chicken nuggets or poke fun at their rival’s mascot, but it quickly became old. It wasn’t long before many users found the tweets annoying and childish. 

Being aware of these two glaring issues, Simon and their team created surveys with social media professionals to see if a college course on the subject would even be useful. The majority agreed that coursework focusing on how to straddle the line between being professional and being relatable would be beneficial. They also concluded that the course should not focus on any one platform, like Twitter or Facebook, but instead on skills and themes based on  advertising, marketing, and public relations. By creating these courses, I think it would make social media management more of a tangible career path that has clear goals and expectations mentioned in the classroom instead of an option only  suggested on job boards.

Resources

Teaching Tweeting: Recommendations for Teaching Social Media Work in LIS and MSIS Programs, by Rachel N. Simons, Melissa G. Ocepek and Lecia J. Barker


Viewpoint Written by Mariah Clem, Texas State University

Edited by Christina Rendon, Texas State University


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