NORTH EAST — As with any important invention, when social media cropped up over a decade ago, it carried with it plenty of unrealized potential.
In the 21st century, its importance has grown from a simple means of communicating with old friends to a full-fledged tool for companies trying to increase business.
Among those enterprises now looking to capitalize is Cecil College, which recently employed two social media assistants to increase its Internet exposure.
Each equipped with an iPod Touch, Ron Fish and Sara Hogate – both current students at Cecil – will be expected to document pictures, videos and overall observations on the college’s various social media accounts. Currently, the North East institution operates an account on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Pinterest.
With the addition of Fish and Hogate to their marketing efforts, the local college hopes to improve social media presence in an era where having followers on Twitter seems increasingly synonymous with existing at all on a public level. Because both are currently enrolled, the college is asking the new employees to serve, at times, as a bridge between the administration and the students.
“Ron and Sara know how to relate to students,” said Adam Kamras, the public relations coordinator and a marketing team member at Cecil College. “We learn a lot from talking to students, and they’ll help us do that.”
The college has placed more emphasis on utilizing students in the past two years, beginning with the debut of “Faces of Cecil College,” a marketing campaign that asked students to share their stories for the chance to represent the institution on billboards or commercials. Ron Fish was one of the students featured in these advertisements.
After participating in the “Faces” campaign, Fish was asked by Cecil’s marketing team if he would be interested in further exposure for the college. The 2010 graduate of North East High School said yes.
Now Fish, who plans to make a career in government contracting, is looking forward to getting the word out to Cecil’s followers on its various social media accounts. Although the job necessitates a certain amount of responsibility and discretion, he said he has no fears.
“Social media is the way of the future,” Fish said. “This is definitely something I can add to my resume to separate me from someone else.”
In preparation for the job, Fish and Hogate were briefed on what should and should not be posted on the sites. A printed list of guidelines called for the students to post at least 10 times a week with each post signed by their first and last initials and with the trending tag, “#cecilcollegelife.”
“We asked them to always be sensitive, don’t humiliate anyone,” Kamras explained. “If someone doesn’t want their picture taken, say ‘Thank you anyway,’ and walk away.”
The guidelines warn the pair about not receiving explicit permission to photograph or videotape individuals, especially when children are involved. Fish and Hogate are additionally asked to “put a positive slant on everything [they] say.”
While Fish had experience working with the college before the job offer, Hogate was discovered after an advisor dropped her name to the marketing department. Hogate, a biology major, said she thought the position would help in future job searches due to the increasing relevance of social media experience to hiring companies.
A 2009 Rising Sun High School graduate, Hogate has lived in Cecil County her entire life. She considered engaging students and the community alike with Cecil College as what she looked forward to the most.
“I’d like the students to know how awesome Cecil is. I’d like to make sure they know what’s happening here,” she said.