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High Profile Officials Using Social Media: Pros vs. Cons

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Friday morning, all Missouri State University students and employees received an invitation to follow the university president, Clif Smart, on his newly-launched Twitter account. KSMU's Rebekah Clark looked into how high-profile officials are using social media platforms to connect, and also at the potential pitfalls of doing so.

 

In his first tweet, Smart vowed to use his account to “highlight interesting events and issues related to MSU.” Within four hours of launching that tweet, Smart had close to 300 followers on Twitter.

Social media is nothing new to the modern corporate world. Local business owners use communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to share opinions and promote their businesses and organizations.

Maggie Bridgeman is new to her position as chief writer and communication coordinator for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. She says she's watching as area business leaders morph into cyber communication.

“The Chamber is really trying to reach out to young entrepreneurs and create relationships between those up-and-coming business owners and more established business owners. I think that social media makes for a great medium for that because it makes it seem less stuffy, it makes you more approachable. I think that’s one of the appeals is that you can connect on a whole new level in a whole new way, in a way that isn’t as intimidating.”   

Some social media entities are more popular with these leaders, she says.

“I think that the fact that Twitter confines you to 140-160 characters, I think that can be sort of an obstacle because so many of our members are so used to being able to be a little bit more long-winded. I think you see more popularity on Facebook because of that, because we’re so much more used to traditional communication mediums like the newspaper.”

She says there can be drawbacks to corporate leaders taking on the social media trend.  

“With social media, you are building a more personal relationship, but you still have to maintain that level of professionalism that is expected of high profile members of the community. I can’t think of anyone that would be a concern for for our community, but I think that’s a concern in general. That’s something I deal with every day is, how do I make sure that I’m being approachable but not being unprofessional.”

Bridgeman says there’s a fine line between the two. However, she says as social media evolves, the line between what’s professionally acceptable and what’s not is becoming more clear. This, in turn, allows more high profile individuals to use social media as a business platform without fear of scrutiny.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

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