Using Social Media to Create Useful Information and Connections

I think of social media as “noise” especially during this political year (2016). How do I know what is reliable information to make an informed opinion? There is so much commentary on both sides of the fence from news sources, politicians, analysts, scholars and general public that I finally had to mute all of them. This social noise needs to be filtered.

Amy Hea (2014) argues that social media is “symbolic representations, metaphors, articulations, assemblages of cultural systems of knowledge and power” (“Social Media in Technical Communication,” p. 2). She further states that social media is a “connection of the medium and the users…cultural practices that shape and are shaped by political, social, and cultural conditions” (p. 2). Making connections with people is innate; however, the context and medium of which it is done has changed drastically in the past decade. Creating credibility and trust between writer and reader is the relationship that needs to exist to provide active engagement. Technical communication instructors define, examine, demystify and expose students to social media as a professional contributor. What we write is shaped by what we read, hear, and understand through other outlets and mediums.

Hurley and Hea (2014) discuss “reach as a metaphor” and “crowd-sourcing” in “The Rhetoric of Reach: Preparing Students for Technical Communication in the Age of Social Media” as methods to provide a needed source of information that would also engage others to respond. Reach pertains to the “reaching the masses” but information that is useful or needed, while crowd-sourcing involves multiple people contributing to a project or content, but also establishes online presence (p. 66). Using social media as a medium to provide useful information also provides credibility and creates a following for future posts.

Social media is useful for engaging people to comment and respond to content as long as it’s useful and credible.


Hea, A. C. K. (2014). “Social media in technical communication.” Technical Communication Quarterly, 23:1, 1-5.

Hurley, E. V. and Hea, A. C. K. (2014). “The rhetoric of reach: Preparing students for technical communication in the age of social media.” Technical Communication Quarterly, 23:1, 55-68.

Posted on September 18, 2016, in Social Media and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. “Social media is useful for engaging people to comment and respond to content as long as it’s useful and credible.”

    I think you’ll find the Rheingold text will speak a lot to this aka the literacy needed to understand and think through all the options that are posted online. He calls it “crap detection.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.