Braving the Social Media World, an Introduction to Microblogging

Ahh, the wonderful world of microblogging.  Until last week, I didn’t even know this term existed, but I now realize it is something I have been practicing for the past two years.  Yes, I finally took the plunge two years ago and created a Facebook page.  I was hesitant at first, I didn’t want to be “one of those people,” I’m far too sophisticated for social networking.  However, once I got my profile all set up, started finding people to “friend,” and actually figured out how to download a picture of myself so I wasn’t shouting “newbie” to the world, I actually started enjoying Facebook.  One particular night, while drinking red wine, I wrote my very first comment on my wall.  I was nervous. I had never sent a message to “the world” in quite the same way.  After all, this would be archived forever!  So, I thought carefully about what I would write. It had to be clever, unique, and maybe a little funny or wise…something that said, “Watch out world, I am here to stay!”  Therefore, the brilliant thing I came up with, the first amazing insightful thing on my wall, “Red wine and Facebook go well together.”  Of course, I blame it on the wine, I know better than to drink and Facebook at the same time now….but I can never take back those seven words…they are out there, for the entire world to see.

That was my first microblogging experience, and I am happy to report that I continue to enjoy the Facebook world, and am now “friends” with my mother- it’s intergenerational! Microblogging is simply a broadcast medium in the “mini” form.  Much like regular blogging, microblogging is a way to send messages, update profiles, share information or contact people but it’s all done in a small form.  This can be a sentence or two, a small video, or photo.  When we update our status on our profile page inside Facebook, we are microblogging!  Another well-known form of microblogging is a “tweet” using the platform of Twitter.  Text messaging, instant messaging and even email can be a form of microblogging.

Since my experience tiptoeing into the social media world, I have gradually branched into nearly all the various mediums.  I have a Twitter account.  Again, it began very reluctantly.  At the time, I thought to myself, “I hardly have time in my life to do the dishes, read to my child at night, and check my regular emails, how can I possibly add another dimension of communication in my life!  And those twitters…they come every second- there’s no way I can keep up!”

However, just like my Facebook experience, I started out slow, found a couple dozen people to follow, uploaded my profile and picture, and just played around with it for a few weeks.  I will be honest, I was only “kinda into” the Twitter world in the beginning.  It just didn’t seem all that special to me.  I even left my account for four months.

However, about a month ago I decided to give it another try.  This time I started finding some of my favorite news outlets to follow, my favorite environmental organizations and nonprofits, and favorite leaders in the community.  I began getting much more excited about Twitter.  Then one night recently, I was looking at my Twitter feed and noticed that the first miner was being rescued out of the mine in Chile (after being trapped for nearly 70 days).  CNN had a tweet directing me to their live webcam on their website to watch the event unfold.  I was so excited to see the joyous moment when the first miner arrived- as if I was part of that historical moment, and I have Twitter to thank!  Since that evening, I have been hooked!

Last week I had a colleague tell me that a potential employer she had just interviewed for started “following” her on Twitter.  This was an “aha” moment for me, as I realized that employer was looking for additional information on their potential employee.  I’m guessing that employer wanted to see: what people, businesses, and organizations she followed, and what kind of content she shared with her twitter feed.  One can tell how engaged you are, what kind of things you find interesting, and what your opinions are about many things by looking at your twitter account.  If you are applying for a public relations position at an Environmental non-profit group but you don’t follow a single environmental issue or organization on your Twitter, this may send a red flag as to your authenticity of interest.  On the other hand, if that non-profit sees you follow a dozen environmental groups, a dozen environmental reporters, and that you tweet about your environmental concerns, you are “proving” that you are truly engaged and interested in the subject. In a sense, Twitter is a really easy way to market yourself.  In my Twitter feed you will find that I am passionate about environmental issues, concerned about human health, interested in children and parenting topics, share innovative ideas about renewable energy and green design, love learning tips about social media and public relations, and stay on top of world news and politics.  And, you will find out that I love some quirky things too- that shows my fun side!

So if you are on the fence about social media, remember you have probably been doing some form of microblogging for years!  All those emails or text messages you send have been your practice.  The nice thing about microblogging, you control how much time you invest, the content you discuss and share, and exactly what you decide to write!  Just remember, when you set up that Facebook page, stay away from the red wine…or maybe have an extra glass.

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