Social media are a means to an end, whether it be to connect with employers, find old friends or share pictures.
But it can be a waste of time if used improperly, said Patric Lane, health and sciences editor for UNC News Services.
Lane was one of several speakers on Saturday to address social media and its potential at the SMART conference hosted by University Career Services.
“It’s a means to an end, but if you use it the wrong way it ends up being meaningless,” Lane said of Twitter.
Twitter was a prominent topic at the SMART conference, but speakers and audience members also addressed blogging, Facebook and location-based services.
It was the first conference of its kind at the University, with about 65 attendees, said Gary Miller, assistant director of University Career Services.
He added that costs were minimal because speakers were either students or were provided by Triangle Interactive Marketing Association.
KeAnne Hoeg, web services coordinator for N.C. State University’s Industrial Extension Service, said Twitter has built awareness of her program at the school.
“I feel much closer to these groups who weren’t aware of us before and now are more likely to invite us to events,” Hoeg said.
Speakers also addressed blogging, saying the format can be used for many purposes.
Blogs can be either personal or topic-based, said Terrell Russell, a Ph.D. student in the School of Information and Library Science.
“Why blog?” he said. “To have a voice, to share, to keep a record, to tell a story.”
Jay Dolan, a blogger for The Anti-Social Media who was listed as a top-10 media blogger for 2011 by the Social Media Examiner, said he wanted to incorporate his personality into his blog.
“I wanted to create a social media blog, but I wanted it to be completely different and encompass my sarcastic humor,” Dolan said.
Senior Brittany Thomas said she attended the conference because she was interested in blogging but lacked direction.
“I learned there is not one right way to blog,” Thomas said. “There’s a variety of perspectives you can take.”
Zach Clayton, a member of a panel discussing the future of social media and CEO of Three Ships Media and the Emerging Media Research Council, said one of the future obstacles for the industry is knowing which outlet to use for which purpose.
“Information is commoditized,” he said. “What used to take millions of dollars now costs pennies. What is important is the skill you’ll need to curate, filter and synthesize information.”
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