Six O’Clock Series: Panel discusses social media professionalism

Mindful of smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Indiana Uni­versity of Pennsylvania’s social media consultants attempted to bring profes­sionalism to a raucous, unmediated area of college life.

A panel of IUP alumni, current students and employees discussed social media in the professional world Monday night at the Six O’Clock Se­ries titled “Be a Leader, Not a Follower: Harnessing the Power of Social Media.”

The panel included John Wesley Lowery, chairman of IUP’s Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education; Ellen Matis, recent IUP graduate and Indiana Gazette digital media coordi­nator; Patrick Damp (journalism), IUP student and IUP’s assistant social media manager; Zachary Saeva, assistant direc­tor in IUP’s Career Development Cen­ter; and Michele Papakie, journalism department chairwoman.

The discussion focused on creating a positive online presence.

The panel discussed topics such as how to create an online identity, how social media affects professional lives and how an identity on social media is different from a real life identity.

When creating an online presence, Papakie said it is important to “brand yourself.”

“I think you should look at yourself as a brand,” Papakie said, “and create a brand that you would want to hire if you were an employer. So think about that image you want to project and start to build the online identity that matches the image you want to project.”

Matis said that though a personal identity is important on social me­dia sites, it is important to present a positive image. It is important to show potential employers that “you can use social media in a way that conducts what your professional life is,” she said.

“You shouldn’t behave in a man­ner online that you would have to use any filters,” Matis said. “Being your­self online is very important, but you need to keep in mind that what you do online is there in the future no matter what.

“You can Google yourself, and some­thing that you said 10 years ago on Twitter may show up, and it might be really embarrassing.”

Prior to the event, Damp described the discussion as advice for college students to maintain professionalism and “how what you say and what you do can help and/or hurt you when you try to go out into the professional world.”

Saeva promoted using social media as a branding device, especially as a contributor to professional fields.

“If you’re really interested in a certain subject you have an opportu­nity to become an expert in that,” Saeva said. “It’s a great opportunity to col­laborate with other professionals who might be interested in that as well, and that’s going to be huge networking for possible employment opportunities as well.

“You never know who might be able to help you in the future.”