On Sunday, more than 20 students met in the Zurack Center in the Glenn G. Bartle Library for a Harpur Crash Course workshop called “Connecting with Audiences in the Social Media Era,” to learn about social media platforms and how they can be used to promote brands and reach target audiences.
Led by Ryan Yarosh, Binghamton University’s senior director of media and public relations, the event focused on strategic audience engagement, and is part of a new series cosponsored by Harpur College and the Student Association. According to Doug Wehbe, vice president for academic affairs and a senior double-majoring in computer science and mathematics, the workshops, known as “crash courses,” are intended to teach students technical skills.
“While students already have access to a wide variety of free online educational resources, student-run workshops and courses, our idea was to create a program with more structure than teaching oneself, but less commitment than a semester-long course,” Wehbe said. “Often, students just need enough training to be able to continue teaching themselves or learn similar skills during job or internship training — it would be difficult to impart much more than the fundamentals in a one-day session.”
“Connecting with Audiences in the Social Media Era” is the third workshop of the series to be held. Yarosh, who has more than 20 years of experience in media relations, said he often uses social media to reach the University’s target audience. According to Yarosh, certain media platforms have different ‘persona rules,’ where social media users should adopt a different tone for each platform.
“Social media is a big deal, obviously,” Yarosh said. “2.77 billion people use social media globally. All those social media platforms, once you break them down, segments down to Facebook as the big one, at 2.32 billion people. It’s always been the largest, but Instagram is a lot higher than it used to be, with 326 million.”
Yarosh also touched on the do’s and don’t’s of social media, including scheduling and planning posts on a regular basis and avoiding large blocks of text, posting anything that could jeopardize a brand or lashing back at negative comments.
Anna Brosgol, a senior majoring in psychology, said she attended the workshop course to learn more about social media, and to see if marketing and advertising jobs would be right for her.
“Learning about the resources we can use to help out our Instagram pages, it kind of solidified the preconceived notions I had about visuals resonating better with audiences,” Brosgol said. “There’s definitely a strategy behind it. Thinking about your message and your audience is more important, as there’s always an optimal way to present yourself or your brand.”
Wehbe said the courses have been a success, with spots filling quickly. According to Yarosh, the 34 seats offered in Sunday’s workshop filled within 30 minutes of the course being posted.
“The Student Association and the Harpur Dean’s office recognized an area where we believed Harpur could fill a demand, and the student body’s response has entirely validated our efforts; the number of students interested in participating far exceeded the number of seats in each of the workshops,” Wehbe said. “With the Harpur Dean’s office and Harpur Edge primarily coordinating the workshops, I’m confident that they will see value in continuing to expand the program for years to come, and I’ve heard that VPAA-elect John Santare is interested in seeing it grow, too.”
Sasha Hupka contributed reporting to this article.