Whether we’re posting a status to Facebook about our terrible Monday morning or uploading an Instagram of a new pair of shoes, using social networking services have become an integral and core aspect of our modern day lives. On average, a majority of individuals use social networking services for personal uses, however this post has been constructed to highlight how social networking services can also be used in relation to a persons’ academic studies; the potential benefits and issues surrounding each platform will also be noted in this post.
Whether you love it or hate it, Facebook is considered the most popular social networking service in the world. It’s incredibly convenient for communicating with a large quantity of individuals at once; the service transcends physical boundaries enabling easier and convenient contact, and therefore it’s always useful when needing info from a classmate about your next assignment! Facebook’s privacy settings are constantly under scrutiny from social media researchers. Without the right privacy setting, your information is easily accessible to third-party applications and strangers. In a tutorial, GCL Global Learning say that without the correct privacy settings on Facebook, your professional and personal reputation can be negatively affected by ‘embarrassing or unflattering posts’, and of course pictures. It’s therefore always a good idea to think twice about what you’re posting or what photographs you are tagged in, if you want to use Facebook to promote yourself professionally. Consider using groups or pages, for example, and make a clear decision on what it is you’re using Facebook for and what this means in terms of who should and shouldn’t be able to see those photos and status updates you posted after a couple of pints on Saturday night.
Currently ranked as the second most popular social networking service, the micro-blogging site has come a long way since its launch in 2006. While some users feel a 140 character tweet limit is not enough, Infobarrel suggest that this feature is highly useful for university students as it ‘forces them to get straight to the point in a concise manner’. Twitter is efficient in helping you cut out the waffle and get straight to your point. Alongside the perks of Twitter’s straightforward interface and its overall speed and immediacy, it is sometimes easy to forget who follows you and whether your tweets, much like your Facebook posts, will be perceived in a negative manner or hinder your chances of a job; always remember to find a balance between your professional and personal life on social media services. Remember that sarcasm is unlikely to be recognised quite as easily as it is in a face-to-face conversation, for example.
With over a million researchers, Academia.edu is home to the world’s scholars and researchers; scholars can upload their publications to the site, browse scholarly works from a variety of fields and communicate with other scholars. Personally, I have never used this service, but would have definitely visited the platform to help brainstorm and generate ideas surrounding my dissertation or research projects. A large aspect of Academia.edu concentrates on allowing individuals to peer-review the work of others; the practice of peer-reviewing is considered by Inside Higher Ed as a transferable skill that aids a student to ‘strengthen their writing by taking into account the responses of actual and anticipated readers’, hence Academia.edu can enhance a persons overall writing style and ability to construct arguments in a balanced manner. Similarly to Academia.edu, ResearchGate is also a service dedicated to academic research.
Whilst still a social networking service, LinkedIn stands alone as the world’s largest professional social networking tool that enables its members to create a strong, professional online identity and engage with their professional networks. For humanities and arts students who are aiming to pursue careers in creative industries, LinkedIn is known for having little or no value, yet the platform has been perceived as a great tool in helping students pursue work experience and placements during your university life; it has also been labelled by The Guardian as a means to ‘get yourself noticed early, and to make valuable contacts while you’re still studying’ before you begin to seek employment as a graduate. Some of you may find LinkedIn too focused on and tailored to business and other industries, but it’s worth a try if you want to make connections with businesses and potential employers, and if you can tailor your experience to LinkedIn’s CV-like profile format.
Since its release in October 2010, the free photo and video sharing service has received 200 million active users as of April 2014. Instagram has been praised for many of its features, such as its high quality images and filters but Ross Simmonds, writer at SteamFeed.com, believes that Instagram’s popularity lies in its ability to ‘give brands [and individuals] an opportunity to tell their story through visuals’ and define themselves uniquely from others. According to Alex Dash, the service offers huge opportunity for ‘artistic production and self-expression’, therefore Instagram would be incredibly useful for students who are hoping to pursue careers in creative fields such as: fashion, creative writing, blogging, design, or photography.
Although I have briefly touched upon how particular social networking services can be used for academic and professional uses, ultimately it is entirely your own choice how you utilize the platforms and use them to your advantage, so it’s worth your while to thoroughly test your chosen service and discover what features and elements work best with your content.