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Is Social Media a Fad? Students Are Beginning to Wonder

This week I’ve been speaking to classes at Central Michigan University about social media and how it relates to mass communications and journalism.

At the end of my lecture, I took questions from the audience.

A recurring theme among the students has been a level of skepticism that social media is here to stay, or if it will fade out and be replaced with something else.

Their skepticism surprised me because they were the last group of people I expected to hear something like that from.

Students asked if there’s something new on the horizon that will off-set Facebook, Twitter and so on.

My response was that Facebook and Twitter could go away. But the ideas and the impact that the two sites have had on communications, customer service, and more, will just inhabit another site.

Students are curious about how social media can impact their job search, but are also afraid of how it could be used against them in the search. Some students viewed the idea of maintaining a “clean” profile as unacceptable, and wondered if it was better to have no Facebook presence at all.

I explained that if they view it as one or the other, then it would probably be better not to have a presence at all. It doesn’t give a recruiter something to use against you in the job seeking process. But when you’re applying for a job in media, it could work against you not having a presence.

The students I spoke with were excited about the potential opportunities that are available to them in social media, but are skeptical of the long-term forecast. They question whether universities need to be offering certificate programs and degrees in social media.

Their skepticism contrasts the idea that college kids are “all-in” when it comes to social media. Is their skepticism warranted? Hard to say right now. But the next generation of journalists and PR pros are looking to social media less with wide eyes and more with a skeptical eye.

Photo credit: velcr0/Flickr

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