Dr. Karen Freberg is an internationally recognized social media expert. She is a published author and has worked for well-known companies such as Cinnabon, the Kentucky Derby Festival, Adidas and others. She came to the University of Oregon on May 23 as a guest speaker for the Game Changer Series at the SOJC, and told students about her career in public relations and social media.
She shared what it was like to have a job in the public relations field and how social media has changed what that looks like. She also discussed how students can give themselves a professional edge by mastering social media. I sat down with Dr. Freberg asked her about how social media has helped her career, and how it can help students’ future careers.
As social media continues to rise in popularity, more and more companies and professionals have turned to social media to build their brand with the larger online public. This is becoming vital for young people to understand because who they are on social media and how they use it to build their brand will be analyzed by possible employers. Social media can be a tool to build college students’ professional lives, and is what Freberg urges students to understand and utilize.
Knowledge is power when it comes to social media, according to Freberg. Creating partnerships and collaborations, sharing information and experiences with others, and understanding these tools and what they can be used for professionally will give students another life skill.
“Social media has been… elevating my personal brand, even more than teaching” Freberg said. “It has allowed me to get past gatekeepers of the pubic, and given me the ability to connect with people who can open doors for me with interactions on social media.”
Social media is a way that students and professionals alike can network, and Freberg says it’s not about what you know, but who knows what you can do. It’s about being an asset to a company.
“Students of this age have an advantage with social media professionally because they have understanding of digital growth and navigation among platforms seamlessly,” Freberg said. “They can teach older generations how to use utilize it correctly.”
If students can learn how to use social media correctly, they can bridge the divide between companies and college graduates eager for a job.
Freberg also points out that majors other than public relations are using social media to their advantage, finding ways to utilize social media platforms to put them ahead in their field. In the same way, companies from all sorts of occupations have taken to social media to promote themselves, because they have figured out that it is where their audience lies.
“Even though some brands fully participate and others only half participate, most brands that wish to stay interactive with their publics have taken to social media to reach the people they need to most,” Freberg said. This is another reason companies need those who can help navigate the social media world for them.
However, some things students do on social media can hurt them. As we all know, anything posted on the internet never goes away, especially when it is posted to social media. This is why we should remember to keep it professional on social media, Freberg said. She stated further that one instance can damage relationships in huge ways and should always think before posting to make sure it represents the true you.
Another skill that students can master, Freberg said, is learning how to deal with negativity on social media. It is vitally important to show potential employers that you can deal with online negativity in a professional and responsible matter. This means knowing when to turn the other cheek and when to stand up for yourself. This will show companies that you can keep a level head in the face of adversity and hostility.
The overall message Freberg told UO students is that they can put themselves ahead by focusing on creating a platform for themselves with a mixture of personal and professional social media, and by utilizing social media to make connections and develop skills. She recommends students obtain certifications like Facebook Blueprint, Hubspot, Google Analytics and others to show employers willingness to grow professionally.
Professionals and employers are waiting for students to reach out to them to build those relationships, Freberg said, and showing initiative towards their future with social media is a fantastic way to do this. This is just another example of how important social media is to students, and how if used with a blend of professionalism and personalism, UO students can use social media to put themselves ahead in their careers.