By Kendall Salter (’13)

Boston University’s College of Communication helped celebrate Mashable’s Social Media Day with its own event on Saturday, June 30. As part of the third annual international celebration, Boston was one of more than a dozen cities worldwide that helped commemorate the occasion.

COM’s celebration featured two panels of guest speakers highlighting the effects of the ever-changing social media landscape on their professions, everything from Boston sports teams to company brands. Held in the Tsai Performance Center, Social Media Day, Boston drew about 200 people from around Massachusetts.

“I’m really interested in social media and marketing,” said Caitlin O’Halloran (CAS ’12), who attended Saturday’s panels. “It was really interesting to hear from the panel and their perspective on social media.”

After opening remarks by public relations Prof. Steve Quigley, CNBC Sports’ Erin Sharoni hosted a panel of leading social media figures for three of Boston’s major professional sports teams. The Patriots’ Christy Berkery (’08), the Celtics’ Peter Stringer (’98), and the Red Sox’s Meghan Ryan fielded audience questions about everything from athlete’s use of Twitter to fan interaction through social media.

“We don’t control what our players put on Twitter,” Stringer said. “We try to give them guidance, try to give them help.”

The abundance of emerging social media platforms, such as Google+ and Pinterest, offer teams a new way to converse with their fan base, but according to Berkery, teams are concerned about oversaturation of repetitive content.

“One of the biggest decisions is where to spend your time,” said Berkery. “We want to be where the bulk of the fans are.”

The brands panel that followed featured Tyler Cyr (’97), a web communications manager for Dunkin’ Brands, Tamsen McMahon (SMG, CAS ’95), the vice president of digital strategy for Allen and Gerritsen, and Eric Stoller, a blogger for Inside Higher Ed. Each of them addressed some of the concerns that companies face when entering an oftentimes chaotic social media market.

“You’ve got to enter that party space via listening. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone in that party,” said Stoller, who later added, “This is still kind of an immature industry. It hasn’t been around very long.”

According to McMahon, one of the most important steps for a brand using social media to reach its audience — potential consumers — is for them to deliver a clear message.

“It’s a way to try to continue the story of what you want to accomplish with your brand,” said McMahon.

The event concluded with remarks from Unity Stoakes (’96), co-founder of StartUp Health, and a reception on the College of Communication lawn, where participants were able to interact with panelists and other social media figures.

“We were incredibly pleased with the response to Social Media Day, not just in the BU community, but throughout the Boston area,” said Micha Sabovik (’96, ’06), Assistant Dean of the College of Communication. “Our panelists were witty, gracious, and insightful, as were the attendees. We look forward to hosting similar events in the future and continuing to establish Boston University as a higher-education leader in digital media.”

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