As technology advances, so does the way businesses operate.
We have seen the Internet transform from simply checking e-mail and instant messaging through AOL to shopping for all of the latest trends without leaving the comfort of home.
Also on the rise is social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Although many people use many of these platforms for personal reasons, a growing number of businesses are hopping on board and reaping the benefits that come with it.
“Social media has always been around,” said Todd O’Neill, an assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University. “Now the only difference is that it is done electronically. It is in simplest terms the Internet’s version of networking.”
Social media is most commonly known for its impact on the youth, but it has also given businesses the ability to talk back to consumers, resulting in positive results for some.
On the other hand, many business owners who have joined social media have received unanticipated backlash.
“The worst thing someone can do is create social media sites and not use them,” O’Neill said. “In order to fully reap the benefits of social media, you need someone whose 100 percent dedicated to it.”
As we continue to become more dependent on social media, he said, new obstacles and challenges are formed.
For businesses owners, it is imperative to learn how to properly manage their social media platforms to better position not only the company in today’s market, but themselves as well.
O’Neill, who may be new to the Blue Raider community, is not new to social media. He has worked full time in social media since 2007, though O’Neill has been involved in social media in some form or fashion since the 1980s.
“MTSU didn’t have any courses that catered to social media management prior to this year,” he said. “I figured this class would be a great way to kick it off, I want to get practical really fast.”
The course is still in its infancy and is currently labeled as a special topics class, which made it relatively easy to start, he said.
O’Neill is responsible for creating an entirely new curriculum. As of this semester, students are following a curriculum based on HootSuite, a popular social media management dashboard.
“HootSuite is an essential tool for managing social networks by allowing teams to efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results,” said Pete Cashmore, chief executive officer of Mashable, via HootSuite.
At the end of the semester, students will be required to take a HootSuite certification test. If they pass and receive certification, they will gain recognition and be listed as a HootSuite technician in the greater Nashville area.
This class alone is projected to double the number of HootSuite certified people in the Nashville area – progress O’Neill said is necessary in a global marketplace.
“Social media is very important, and I want MTSU to become a destination school for social media,” he said.
Over the past few years, social media has really come a long way.
“It amazes me how people are using social media for serious things like politics, education and even medical purposes,” he said. “People are using it to change things.”
Because social media will likely continue to morph into an everyday necessity for work, O’Neill said it is important for people who are unfamiliar with it to start learning more now.
“The best way for people who aren’t social media savvy to learn about it is for them to simply use the Internet, subscribe, investigate, analyze, and learn from other sites,” he said.
“Social media will continue to change the world as we know it, by people creating new things and innovating things that are already out,” he said. “Social media, just like the world, has to keep changing and innovating.”