Tag Archives: social media

Reflection experience optimum in the summer

With June complete, I feel an inevitable wave of reflection. Fear not, though, I won’t launch into an extended, sugary monologue about how much I love “SUMMERRRRR <3” (to quote the title of a teenage Facebook album that, thankfully, has since entered the digital graveyard).

Rather, summer provides a time to reflect on what I’ve learned. Without the chaos of exams, essays, applications (and the incessant fear that another Drake squirrel will leap at me from his fortress inside a campus trashcan), reflection is more organic and less fragmented this time of year.

Between working in the communications department at the Science Center of Iowa and freelancing for The Des Moines Register, I’ve embraced versatility and variety this summer. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about journalism and perhaps more importantly, about myself. And since I’m not yet ready to break my streak of list-style op-eds, here are three things I’ve learned this summer.

Don’t limit yourself. While I admit I first thought of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream when I wrote that tagline, I’m talking about my journalistic focus. When I began my Drake University career, I had my mind and heart set solely on a bigwig career at a fancy, metropolitan daily newspaper.

I didn’t need to learn any of that digital business. I was already en route to a print-exclusive career defined by fame and fortune!

The Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication has pushed me outside the cozy, familiar realm of ink-stained palms and red pens, though, and I’ve realized the scope of the big, beautiful media world in which I thrive.

This summer, for instance, I’m producing and editing video, running a Pinterest account, writing and managing a website — all in the PR field. A world I never imagined I’d experience.

Don’t forget what motivated you at the beginning. And while I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a new field and delving into the digital world, I haven’t forgotten what drew me to journalism in the first place: sports writing for print.

In my work freelancing at The Des Moines Register, I get the chance to re-experience what I loved about playing prep sports in Iowa: the hometown pride and the state’s rich, highly competitive athletic culture. And I admit I’ll never tire of seeing my name in print.

Write every day. I heard it again and again growing up, but I only recently realized the merit of that advice. Whether I’m crafting a quirky caption for a pin or detailing another traumatizing squirrel incident, writing daily helps me process the minutiae of life and develop my voice.

Besides, I may never again have the opportunity to write about squirrels, ice cream and “minutiae” in a connected manner.

Social media management provides a lesson in patience

When I baked banana bread the other day, I wandered to the oven approximately every minute to monitor its progress. Every time, I heard the trademark reply of my friend and former roommate, Katie: “Taylor, if you open the oven that often, it’ll never bake. Be patient!” Me, patient? Ha. Good one.

That tale of baking impatience recently became relevant beyond the kitchen, when I began managing the Science Center of Iowa’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts. As I Instagrammed photos of a 60-year-old box turtle, Peaches (in celebration of World Turtle Day), and pinned the instructions for at least 15 variations of the classic volcano experiment, I realized a peculiar juxtaposition in the realm of social media.

Though social media revolves around the modern need for immediacy, it requires patience from those on the management end.

I’ve learned you can plan and plan a complete social media approach, but if users don’t engage with your content, you have to be ready to take a whole new route. And the inherent uncertainty has provided a powerful test in patience. That ‘brilliant’ idea for a Pinterest board? Total flop. That ‘eh, maybe’ board I created with caution and expected to garner limited engagement? An immediate hit.

Flexibility is the pinnacle of successful social media management. Not clever hashtags. Not eye-catching photos. Not a homely turtle. Not even that blackmail-worthy Throwback Thursday image.

And hey, one day in the near future, I might even wait until the timer dings to check on my banana bread. And I have an aging box turtle to thank for it.