I’m a PR student – but I’m afraid of social media

Emily Faulkner

It’s true, I’m in PR and I’m afraid of using social media.  I’m going to be very honest, I feel quite stupid writing this, but I’m wondering if anyone else feels the same way?

From my workplace, to my peers, to my family – everyone is under the impression that PR professionals and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Well, I actually hate PB&J – so there. When I decided to enroll, I thought social media would be but a blip in the program. That turned out to be true, but I’m not convinced that’s a good thing.

As millennial students who grew up with the internet it’s assumed we have a solid understanding of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sure, I can make my way around someone’s profile. Yet my ability to curate content and create an impeccable online presence is far from resume ready. My own measly profiles are hardly worthy of the small audience they have.

I’ve certainly felt the pressure to up my social media game. Many jobs I apply for request social media experience. So, in 2016 I made the commitment to double my Instagram followers from 115 to 230 by posting more often (#Goals). I achieved this and now have over 280 (insert hair flip girl emoji). However, my attempt at frequently posting was not sustainable and my feed has more than tapered off. My last post was November fourth. I didn’t even make a Christmas post – the blasphemy!

Every time I try to share a post, write the perfect status or take that new shiny profile pic, a massive wave of anxiety pours over me. I’ve spent hours on a post before, just to delete it. I like to think of myself as a social media recluse. I’ll poke around on it for news, art and a good meme, but I really don’t care to look at anyone’s profile of random photos and opinions. Moreover, the idea of online “friends” viewing my content and hovering over the like button while they contemplate their approval really weirds me out. Apparently I’m not the only one, there are people out there with Visiobibliophobia – an actual medical phobia of social media.

Looping this back to the BPR program, I understand why social media is beneficial for business. I may not need to advertise the outfit I wore last weekend, but businesses have a responsibility to keep their customers in the know.  Sadly, this realization doesn’t help my anxiety any. What I’ve gathered from my volunteer and co-op experiences is that managing someone else’s online presence is even more stomach-turning. My reputation is one thing, but I’d really rather not ruin something someone else built.

My co-op with the IWK Gastroenterology department was a good example. Not only did whatever I post have to meet IWK guidelines, it also had to be child/family friendly and be physician approved. This took a lot of planning, I could not retweet all willy-nilly. Day after day, I had to find upbeat content on Crohn’s disease written in lay language that was medically sound. I learned a lot from this experience, but it actually made me more apprehensive. A lot of content bouncing from feed to feed is, pardon the pun, crap.

Maybe most students in my program would consider it a waste of time, but I could really benefit from a crash course in social media planning. It seems social media management is part of most entry level jobs, yet it’s not in our curriculum.

If anyone wants to tutor me on the matter, I’d gladly take tips – but email me them, okay? I don’t do messenger.