Go ahead: Use social media to enable people’s vanity

The largest group of Elon students I have seen yet attending one session was to support Sam Calvert and Jeff Stern as they led ‘Student Media Use of Social Media: A Roundtable Discussion’ The Pendulum and The Daily Tar Heel came together to share what they have been doing with social media.

There are some differences between the two online desks because of the size of the papers and the school. University of North Carolina has different twitter handles for their different desks (diversions, arts, sports). At Elon we have one main twitter, one for live events (speakers, etc) and then one for athletic events.

Both papers similarly use twitter as a way to develop a personality for its product and Facebook is a way to have readers interact. It can sometimes be an interesting line between promoting our own products through social media and informing the public. For example, we put up a picture of our Executive Producer as he was editing our first episode of our paper’s webcast, The Swing, which came out last Wednesday.

One of the things I had never really thought of before is what it is like to have to compete with your own school’s products. An audience member was part of a newer media organization that had to compete with the student newspaper that has a loyal following. This new media product is online only, while the newspaper is a tangible product. It was interesting to imagine what it would be like to have a product that never leaves the online world. This led to the statement that every publication is trying to figure out when it comes to print and online products:

If you have awesome content, but nobody looks at it, what good is that?

Another universal truth that was discussed by the audience and the mediators: students are vain. People want to see their photos and want to read their names within the publication. Putting photos online and asking people to tag them increases the audience, taking the most interesting tweets from events and publishing them in the paper creates more readers. People want to see themselves in the paper, so go ahead and feed into people’s vanity every once in a while. You can even go ahead and entertain the vanity of staff member as well and promote things, like Jeff Stern’s opinions piece.

It is okay to promote people because social media is a social community where you can take your products and humanize them. By increasing the humanity of something, you are actually increasing the trust of your product.

People are more apt to trust humans than a product. You want to bring that human element and connect it to your product.

-Rebecca Smith


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