By Lewis Fein
If we want to ensure that words like “community” and “trust” do not become little more than marketing boilerplate, that they shall not become a collection of meaningless letters – for workers to stamp by hand, or for machines to automate within some desolate assembly line – so documents can bear the appearance of authenticity, then we should invest this vocabulary of commerce with the legitimacy it deserves.
Nowhere is this issue more relevant than among the country’s vast network of colleges and universities, from bucolic campuses in small towns throughout New York State, Ohio and Pennsylvania to national research universities in cities like Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
And, nowhere are people more prolific in their use of social media, nowhere are young adults more frequently thumbing their smartphones and tablets – to text, email, like or follow various trends – than within this digital realm of instant commentary, impromptu communities, shared interests, and reactions to events within their respective neighborhoods or crises halfway round the globe.
Outreach to these students, through Facebook or Twitter (as well as other notable sites), is a necessity for executives and entrepreneurs – an opportunity companies forsake at their own peril, since this constituency can transform a business into a brand, or permanently handicap a company’s reputation and success.
I write these words from experience.
I offer this statement based on my admiration for the vitality of this group, including the vibrancy of their communication online and the passion of their conversations offline, where there is an emphasis on personal values and the pursuit of economic value; because nowhere else are so many people so rich in goods – nowhere else is there a greater concentration of intellectual talent and tangible property – than among the classrooms, laboratories and dormitories of so many colleges and universities.
That college students are eager to assign value to the skills they possess and the individual items they own, that they want the freedom to showcase each of these things and exchange specific goods for specific services, is an undeniable fact of the Sharing Economy.
More importantly, social media is the chief means of promotion and discussion about this financial phenomenon.
Hence the power of tool: That this resource demands mutual participation from students and companies alike, because the former is already active – it is vociferous in its praise, and thorough in its displeasure within this forum – while the latter is more passive, terse or reactive in what it chooses to say, or what it (foolishly) refuses to address.
Still, the Sharing Economy will be robust among this community of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, too.
Every group has a stake in this matter.
Every person within this community has an incentive to use social media to offer or receive something of value.
We all have an interest in the way social media can broaden the economy and enhance the purpose of technology.
Let us, therefore, begin this journey united in our enthusiasm for and unanimous in our embrace of social media.
Let us pursue excellence.
Lewis Fein is a media relations consultant, focusing on branding as storytelling, content marketing and sundry promotions. You may follow him at Medium.com/@WaldenBromley
Main image credit: cornish.edu