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Social media, to the average American, is what reality TV is for celebrities. It’s a brilliant tool that  allows us to show the world our personality and passion.

With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and WordPress, students have the opportunity to go online and bare it all. Your social media offerings only add to the savory blend of spices that create the recipe of you. Online, it is possible to present yourself as a delicacy or as an inedible dish.  Be careful! The image you create can become your best friend or your worst enemy.

The advantages of social media are countless. For the student who left their home state, social media gives you the comfort of having your friends and family close because there’s a constant sharing of information, no one has to miss a beat. To the striving professional you have access to experts that normally you wouldn’t make it pass their generic email account or personal assistant. To the artist you have the world as your audience, just look at the many YouTube stars who’ve found fame.

With social media you get to create your image, you get to create your world, and that is undeniably the greatest advantage if you’re smart. Use this platform to market yourself.  Whatever field you plan to enter professionally you have have the ability to position yourself as an expert. Share links and your opinions on current events in that field. Create a blog dedicated to that field. Begin engaging other online experts in that field. They say “its not what you know, its who you know” and with social media you can engage millions. No other time in history has given us that ability.

Schools are also discovering the communication benefits of social media and the ability to engage a large audience. In Mashable’s article “10 Ways Universities Share Information Using Social Media” they highlight not only the popularity of social media in education but the innovation. Stockholm University (@Stockholm_Uni) provided a live streaming video on its website for those who could not attend an environmental seminar.

The University of Minnesota has an Emergency Notification group on Facebook that it uses to blast messages to its 2,300 members during a case of an emergency. Universities are using digital platforms to do many other remarkable things.

But with the increase popularity there is also increased threat. Here are words of caution when using social media:

1.       Secrets are not meant to be on the Internet. It doesn’t matter your privacy settings, if something is so threatening that it can’t be trusted beyond a handful of people don’t put it on a platform with millions of users. It’s simply not worth the risk.

2.       Keep your passwords private. Relationships change, if someone has access to your personal information and negative events occur they have the ability to make all your private details public. And if someone has the password they have the ability to change your access settings so you can’t remove any embarrassing information they publish.

3.       Companies have discovered the profit margins for social media. TV and print marketing are a thing of the past; the new “it” thing is social media advertising. If you’re not interested in being spammed or bombarded with marketing messages research what you’re joining and the access companies have to your information.

4.       If you’re involved in anything illegal keep it off the Internet. Keep anything that implies you condone illegal activity off the Internet.

As always,

L.I.V.E. H.O.P.E G.I.V.E. H.O.P.E.

Teneasha Pierson
Marketing Director
The H.O.P.E. Scholarship

The HOPE Scholarship Blog is going DAILY for a special back-2-school (B2S) blog series. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a super senior you will find our specially selected posts beneficial to navigating college life. Check back with us daily to get the new tips.