Social Media is a Dialogue, not a Monologue

Written by John Starr, Yuko Sugiyama, and Yuanhong Sun, students in Jon Harari’s class.  Edited by Jon Harari.

Ms. Diana Ziskin graduated from Hofstra University with a major in film. However, with her outgoing and sociable personality, she ended up in the field of media, management, public relations and public speaking. Ms. Ziskin has volunteered in many organizations since she was in college.

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Ms. Ziskin current serves as an Account Executive at Trent & Company. The firm was founded in 1987 by Nancy Trent. It is a marketing communications firm that specializes in creating media publicity for their clients. Furthermore, it’s also a lifestyle company, which markets and primarily publicizes for industries such as beauty, fitness, nutrition, spas, design and others.

Ms. Ziskin was a warm and enthusiastic speaker who works in PR, but couldn’t help but stress the importance of digital media in the modern age. Ms. Ziskin talked a lot about publicity, but she related it all back to the idea of publicizing oneself. “Treat yourself as a brand,” she exclaimed, before delving into the intricacies of PR.

Ms. Ziskin was not afraid to use her own career as an example to us. “Never reply to negative comments,” she advised, and she disillusioned us all of celebrity Tweets by stating that almost everything on social media had been posted by a publicist. “All posts need to be in the same voice,” she told us. This, of course ties into consistent branding. Ms. Ziskin reminded us that PR is all about getting people talking about brands and thus extending the brand. If that is the bottom line in PR, then it is no surprise that PR thrives on social media, on which consumers constantly chat about brands.

She did warn us, however, that people have short term memories, but computers don’t. This was certainly a comment on the permanence of things once they’re posted on the internet, but there was also an unexpected silver-lining; mistakes can always be found online, but they’re not always at the forefront of people’s minds. Warren Buffet’s intimidating saying that “it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” suddenly becomes more intense when you realize that thanks to social media that five minutes has turned into five seconds and that you might never recover from the ruination. Despite this, many brands have put incidents behind them, regardless of their permanence online.

Ms. Ziskin not only warned us of the dangers of online mistakes, but reminded us that one should protect oneself offline too, as one never knows what might end up online. She said that, furthermore, many employers ask for an Instagram handle, as many people forget that Instagram is public and post the most personal stuff up there. “What if I made my profile private?” One tattoo-covered student boldly asked. Ms. Ziskin’s answer was simple; employers find that even more suspicious.

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The question of how to use social media effectively was discussed throughout, but towards the end Ms. Ziskin gave us the crux of the message. “Social media is a dialogue, not a monologue,” she said, “engage, engage, engage!” She told us not to make statements. All the best social media users gained followers through asking open questions. People like organic, natural content and they like to express their opinions, even if those opinions are actually relevant to the conversation. The key is to let them engage and express. If you get people talking then you’ve succeeded in introducing them to your brand. This form of personal branding is increasingly easy in the modern world and increasingly important.

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