Status update: Learning about personal branding

A Twitter account is labeled to show that cherubs learned how to use professional photos, creative biographies, hashtags and tagging.

Graphic by Lily Richman

Cherubs scroll through their social media feeds every day. From Instagram to Twitter, they contribute to the millions of pieces of content posted and try to make their personal mark.

In their presentation, “Using Social Media in Journalism,” community associates Gabby Birenbaum, Andrew Golden, Marissa Martinez and Amanda Rooker showed how a personal brand is key to attracting an audience and standing out from the crowd. They said little things like tagging accounts in a bio are key in brand-building.

The culture of each social media platform is different. Instagram is aesthetic-driven, while Twitter focuses on fast trends. Cherubs had Instagram accounts before coming to the institute but were not using social media professionally.

Jessica Langer of Montville, New Jersey, said she knew social media is important to journalism but lacked the knowledge and experience to make her accounts professional. When the trend story came in the third week, she realized that Twitter was vital to contacting people.

“The only way that I found direct contact to my sources was through social media,” Langer said. “Twitter was my last resort. I got in contact with three editors.”

Throughout the lecture, cherubs considered their individual social networks and also the 84-person cherub network. The CAs suggested that cherubs “unlock their Twitter potential” with accurate portrayals of themselves and by using creativity to discuss trending topics applicable to their audience.

Noah Somphone of Fullerton, California, used the advice and got 16 likes and seven retweets — a record high for him.

The tweet said: “If you hear me obsessing over how great twitter is for the next 8 days, you have @andrewcgolden @mar1ssamart1nez @amandanrooker and @birenBOMB to blame #instagramandsnapchatwho.”

“I felt like this tweet was relatable to people at cherubs, and therefore, people at cherubs were able to retweet because they felt the same way,” he said.

Somphone is still working on his brand but wants it to serve as a “break from the political news” and to cover food and humor. The lecture changed his Twitter, and he is more active and engaged now. 

After the lecture, most cherubs changed their bios and tweeted about their interests. They implemented the branding tips, taking the tips and explored the Twitterverse with newly formed Twitter pages.

“It was awesome to see that you guys were inspired to change it right after the lecture,” Martinez said.

She and her fellow CAs stressed the importance of the cherub web because it has already affected their daily lives. Martinez said her cherub web has shown her an array of topics on her feed and provided immense support from other cherubs.

With many notification dings and follow requests, cherubs can see the community at their fingertips and next door.

“A lot of these people, whether others realize it or not, are going to be very successful because of what they do and how much they are driven,” Somphone said. “Everyone is such a great resource because everyone contributes something different. Nothing compares to the network we have.”

Birenbaum encourages cherubs to continue to think about what space they can occupy that’s uniquely their own and where they can tell stories only they can tell.

“I hope to see everybody being active, reaching out to other journalists and participating in trending conversations,” Birenbaum said. “Make Twitter a meaningful space.”