In my online Business Writing class at Wichita State, I require my students to use a variety of social media tools. From personal blogs to Facebook, social media provides a familiar avenue for students to increase their participation and create an online community. When I initially started using these tools, I noticed that my students were very comfortable communicating through these platforms—maybe a little too comfortable. Students would frequently cross the line between friendly and professional communication. In the first semester I taught the course, I found that I spent a majority of my time policing their communication and their profiles. Rather than spend another semester playing “bad cop,” I learned to help my students craft an online, professional personality for their social media profiles.
Early in the course, I require my students to freshen up their social media presence. Here are a few of the lessons I include in the course:
- Become active! If you’ve ever been to one of Caleb’s social media Tiny Desk presentations at the MRC, you’ll know how important regular activity is. If you want to grow your followers, remain relevant, or even get your face out there, logging on to your social profiles at least a few times a week is important.
- Use correct grammar. This may be the English instructor in me talking, but correct grammar is so vital for appearing professional. It is more likely than not that recruiters, professors, and peers will have a negative reaction to grammar and spelling mistakes. Take some time to read through your words before you post them. Luckily, if you notice misspellings or glaring grammatical errors after posting, most social media platforms give you the opportunity to edit your work. Take advantage of this tool!
- Remove inappropriate images, overly opinionated content, and offensive material. Perhaps this goes without saying, but inappropriate content on social media can immediately flag you as unprofessional to a job recruiter or professor. If you’re currently in the market for a job or are asked to use social media to communicate in an online class, take some time to identify images or posts on your personal page that may make you appear improper.
- Practice “netiquette.” Netiquette, or Internet etiquette, asks students to communicate online politely and respectfully. At Wichita State, we ask all of our online instructors to encourage students to practice netiquette by maintaining a positive tone, avoiding personal attacks, and respecting conflicting opinions.
- It’s better to be safe than sorry. After students have reviewed and cleaned their profiles, I encourage them to keep this phrase in the back of their mind. Before you post to social media, consider how your post or image might be received. Ask yourself, “would I hire me?”