Social media week emphasizes transparency, media literacy

By Nandi Sommers '21, staff writer

Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

By Nandi Sommers ’21, staff writer

On April 5, St. John Fisher College held its annual Social Media Week, which featured speakers and workshops relating to careers and topics in social media.

Social Media Week was presented by students in The PRIMA Group and the Public Relations Student Society of America, with support from the Department of Media and Communication.  

Fisher alumni  — and former roommates —  Natalie Gates and Allison Baird shared their experiences working in social media. Gates is the creator of Rad Sister, a sustainable feminist t-shirt company. “I have been involved in the planning of Social Media Week before and I think what Fisher does is an awesome way to connect students to the nearby community,” Gates said. 

“Although this year was virtual, it was a great way to seize new opportunities and be able to speak with alumni from all over the country.” Gates also said it’s important that your target audience feels welcome and understands, “who you are, what you stand for, and understanding what they want.” When it comes to talking about a brand and promoting it on social media, they said it’s important to determine who your key audience is.

Baird added that social media and community outreach are a big part of her job. When it comes to crisis communication both the alumni said that it is important that you respond right away.  Baird and Gates discussed the importance of organizations interacting and relating to their public in a personal way with their publics. 

This humanizing communication shows a level of transparency. “Social media runs our society. As communication students, you learn how it can influence politics and human thought,” Gates said.

In terms of crisis communication, it can be the best or worst thing you can do. Crisis communication requires experience and instincts. Communicating for a brand requires authenticity. 

James Bowman, who is a professor in the media and communications department at St. John Fisher College, also presented during social media week on the topic of media literacy.

“Any opportunity that we have to bring people together to think about the interplay between democracy and social media, that is an initiative we should be a part of. Especially at this moment where we have growing political polarization and tech companies making decisions that affect how we see and interpret the world. Media literacy has always been important but the problem now is that changes in how we consume media have occurred so rapidly in such a short time,” Bowman said.

“I think we are struggling with how to teach people ways of consuming media that will counter so many of the problems associated with it today — disinformation, conspiracy theories, echo chambers, and so on.”

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