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There is More to Social Media Than Just Finding Friends

By Jenna Moede

I know that social media helps us keep in touch with friends and family. In this crazy, military lifestyle that really feels like the most important aspect of social media.  

But, social media can help you with so much more!

I decided to take all the time that I had wasted mindlessly searching through old high school acquaintances and college friends and put it to use for a purpose. I knew a lot about social media because I studied public relations, but I didn’t realize just how many purposes it could serve. 

In my classes, my professors forced the students to become familiar with all types of social media. When we first began using it, I really didn’t understand the point or benefits of using it for anything other than friendships and family relationships, but through my studies, I learned that social media serves as a great tool. 

First, learn about new places to explore through social media. This really helped me after I moved to my husband’s first duty station, but since I’ve already covered that one in depth in previous blogs, I won’t say more than give it a try. You never know what you might find.   

Social media also offers a glimpse of new bases before arrival. I didn’t think of this before I moved, so I have never gotten information beforehand, but now that I know it exists, I look forward to utilizing it someday when the Cheyenne wind finally blows us somewhere new. Once you find out your new location, you can use social media to do some recon. 

Try finding out about housing, neighborhoods, on vs. off base living and general area information. I have seen people ask for photos of the houses, room dimensions and number of animals allowed. They do all of this without ever having to connect with housing, and it seems like they receive the most honest information available.

Even if you have lived in an area for a long time, use social media to learn about it. Just last week I learned how late a dog can bark before getting authorities involved, and I’ve even asked questions about the new recycling schedule because my date sheet blew away in the wind. Those awkward, open ended questions that you don’t know where to direct always seem to get answered on social media without making a million phone calls.   

Social media can also help you find other people with the same hobbies as you. My husband doesn’t like some of my less popular hobbies like knitting and cross country skiing, but through social media, I have found local clubs and groups to join that do those activities. 

Social media has brought me a group of people that I can enjoy my hobbies with even when my husband has left town for work. I can also ask questions about recently groomed ski trails or where to find new knitting patterns. The friends and connections I have established initially through social media always have ideas they want to share. 

Don’t forget you can take to social media for reviews on anything and everything too. When I had to find a good dog kennel for a weekend after moving, I posed my question on social media. I got at least twenty responses and each had a suggestion and a reason why. I even received some horror stories on kennels I had considered. Thanks to the helpful responses, I found a reasonably priced kennel that my dog loved. 

Along the same lines, a lot of times you will receive reviews and suggestions on military owned places with special rates or prices. I have seen questions ranging from the best pediatrician in the area to how the coffee tastes at the new local shop. I have received some candid reviews thanks to social media, and checking online has helped me avoid some bad places and try some I might not have considered.

If those tools alone don’t convince you to use social media for more than old friends, try using it for networking. Some social media sites only exist for networking, but really, they all can help us network.

If job hunting matters to you, make sure that you brand yourself and market your skills in a way that brings your most positive aspects and skills to light. Even if you don’t need to job search right now, you may in the future, and it really helps to have a site where you already have connections.

I have seen people post links to internal job openings and even work from home jobs on social media sites. You never know what personal connection may help you in the future and knowing someone where you apply may help give you a slight edge over the competition.

People often use social media as a way to promote their businesses as well. I have seen local businesses, direct sales and blogs advertised on social media, and it seems like a great way to drum up interest. Event planners often advertise their events online as well so you can learn about new activities, too!

Lastly, use social media for study groups. You can find groups for your school, major or even specific class. Spouses and military members alike both tend to forget to use social media to connect with other long distance students. 

Once you plug yourself into those types of groups, you can easily get your questions answered. You can ask about professors, job outlook and homework questions.  I always had random questions pop up, and I would have loved an online network of people who knew all about my university or major rather than search through the university website or talk on the help chats. 

Overall, while I have fun using social media as a hobby, I have enjoyed using it even more as a tool. Take a look at what social media can help you with in your life, and try using it for new purposes. What you find and who finds you might come as a surprise.


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