This is post is by my second guest Blogger - Jeramy Johnson from API - Academic Programs International. He discusses how he leapt into social media kicking and screaming but is now one of the most prominent users within international education. Here is what Jeramy has to say.
How does social media influence your international education job?
One of my responsibilities at API is to administer our social media presence. This includes developing content for major sites like Facebook, Twitter, the API Blog, etc, but also monitoring our organization's online reputation, and the field of international education in general. As many know, I'm constantly connected (willingly), so I would say social media plays a very important role in my career.
How did you get into social media?
How did I get into social media? Kicking and screaming ;)
No, not really, but close. I was a relative late-comer to social media in general (but apparently an early adopter as far as the study abroad field is concerned). In 2008 I was visiting with a friend (in between attending study abroad fairs in the Baltimore/DC area for API) who told me "I have a surprise for you - I'm making you sit down and create a Facebook Profile. You complain that we don't email/call anymore and it's true; we do THIS." And the rest was history. Last year when I was on an extended international trip, people actually asked my wife if anything was wrong with me, because they hadn't seen me post on Facebook THAT DAY! Since then, I've become more and more fascinated with social media in its various forms, at one point or another creating profiles/accounts/pages etc on just about every platform that I came across (Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, Tumblr, Posterous, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Green Passport, Gowalla, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Quora, Plancast, Audioboo, etc.). My personal and professional interest in and involvement with social media are intertwined.
What is one social media tool you cannot live without now?
Based on my previous answer, this is a tough question to address! If you limit it to hardware, I'd say my Smartphone - I have apps for all of these various sites (including Hootsuite to organize the main ones) on my iPhone, so I couldn't live without that. If you mean application or utility, I'd say Hootsuite (which I use to monitor, schedule, and post to my personal, API, and Aspire by API accounts), with Google Reader a close second. These tools together are invaluable for creating/distributing content, monitoring personal/brand reputation, and seeing what others in your/related fields are doing - there are a lot of smart people/organizations out there to be followed and to learn from!
What is one thing you wish you knew about social media that would have made getting involved with it easier?
I found this out pretty quickly, but I think that many people are nervous about starting (Facebook, Twitter, etc) because they don't know "what to do." I learned quickly that it is okay to a) ask questions - social media is inherently "social"... it's collaborative, and most of your peers are willing and able to help, b) lay low for awhile - if you're not sure what to do, watch/listen to others... you can catch on pretty quick what the norms for a particular network are, and c) be yourself! The most interesting/successful people/organizations using social media have a personality and are run by a real person... nothing is more of a turnoff than someone trying to sound too official on Twitter or their blog IMO...
What do you think social media's biggest impact has been on international education?
In general, I think that international educators have been a bit behind on the social media curve - but this is FAST changing. Thanks to schools like Penn State Altoona, Washington State University, The University of Texas at Austin, Eastern Illinois University, Miami University of Ohio, sites and organizations like Mandy's Mashups, API, CET, Australearn, ISA, IES, GoAbroad.com, EDU directories, Abroad101, Go! Overseas, and others, we have begun to spread the message that social media is here to stay and presents great opportunities for marketing and outreach, advising, program development, on-site learning and post-program evaluation and reflection.
Why do you continue to use social media?
Personally, I really enjoy using social media. It allows me to share a more candid, humorous side of myself with my friends and contacts that I think they appreciate. On a similar note, social media allows me to put a friendly, approachable, transparent face to API and Aspire by API. API has always been about the personal touch - and our social media strategy attempts to embody those values as well.
Jeramy Johnson lives in Austin, Texas, and is the Vice President of Development at Academic Programs International (API). He enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with his wife and two young children. Follow Jeramy on Twitter at @jeramyutgw, @APIstudyabroad, @AspireAbroad, or connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeramyjohnson.
If you are interested in being a guest blogger please email me at Mandy@mandysmashups.com
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.