Social Media Week, which was launched in 2008, is an event that takes place in eight cities worldwide and explores the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. This year, the theme was “Always On, Always Connected: The Future of Now,” which brought focus to our hyper connected world and the power social media has to engage people. As one who uses social media as a vital tool to connect with the FIT alumni community, I was excited to attend this year and hear insight on a vast range of new media topics.
Panels, skill workshops, networking receptions, exhibitions, vendors, great food, and even morning yoga sessions — what could possibly make Social Media Week NYC any better? Human connection, as one yoga teacher at SMW explained, in the midst of ubiquitous screens is what matters. That is true and it is also true that social media can help facilitate these connections in meaningful ways.
To me, SMW presented the perfect opportunity to meet FIT alumni, many of whom were attending as professionals working in branding, design, blogging, audience engagement, entrepreneurship and other related areas. In the spirit of being “always on, always connected,” I leveraged our social media platforms to connect virtually and in-person.No surprise, I was able to meet alumni every day during the course of the week by simply using panels’ hashtags as well as #SMWNYC and #FITAlumni in my posts. It was amazing to see everyone’s posts broadcast on massive screens, amplifying so many diverse voices and facilitating endless new connections. So, how does online activity on a bright, flickering screen transform into real-life connections?
These efficient social media platforms, this super connected hub that is Social Media Week, made several interesting connections possible: Melissa, who recruits emerging designers to FIT’s DENYC, and I live-tweeted with each other while we were at different panel discussions; Damien, an Advertising Marketing & Communications alumnus, sat in front of me at Connecting the Dots Between the Virtual and Real Worlds and told me about his fast-growing Instagram following and ad clients; Joshua, a photography alumnus, and I met in the elevator line and he told me about an FIT professor in the 80s who lectured about the radical notion of digital cameras; Barbara, a Fashion Design alumna who is a veteran in the retail industry, and I enjoyed watching the Wearable Tech Fashion Show side by side; and I met Irene, a Fashion Design 1968 alumna, who told me how she uses social media to help women in developing countries market their artisan bracelets. It was very fitting and special to meet each of these alumni in this context. And, naturally, these unique stories were shared with the wider alumni community on various social media platforms so as to broaden the conversation and enable more network connections.
More and more, I realize that those who study at FIT go on to lead extraordinary and innovative careers in the both creative and business fields. They are forward-thinking, creative, bold individuals. It was gratifying to meet some of them at SMW and to learn about their inspiring work. Whether we were learning about the future of mobile and retail or how Vine, Instagram, and hashtags take your message to the next level, SMW stimulated fresh ideas and new human connections. We hope to continue getting to know many more alumni on- and offline!
We love to follow alumni businesses, too! Let us know you’re out there and connect with us on any/all of our social media communities below–take your pick!