Zuckerberg Tagged at IC

Randi Zuckerberg speaks with students about the power of social media

Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook marketing director and older sister to Facebook cocreator Mark Zuckerberg, came to IC in November, two days after the Wall Street Journal reported that the social network might make an initial public offering in excess of $100 billion.

The Internet entrepreneur came to the College as part the Roy H. Park School of Communications Distinguished Visitor Series. She spoke to a large crowd in Emerson Suites and to several small groups of students throughout the day, discussing everything from cyberbullying to social media’s impact on the revolution in Egypt.

“It was probably the most tweets and Facebook messages I’ve ever received going into a speaking engagement,” Zuckerberg said during her speech.

Zuckerberg says she was particularly amazed with the conversations she had with students and that social networks like Facebook have inspired the creation of a new emerging media major at IC, which caters to students who hope to create the next social innovation (see the “Emerging Media” article for details).

“I was impressed with how you’re starting to think about everything from your personal brand to privacy to the impact social media has on the rest of the world,” she says. “You’re thinking about things that I never even dreamed about when I was in school.”

After graduating from Harvard, Zuckerberg spent a few years working at an advertising agency and then at Forbes before joining her brother at Facebook. As the marketing director for the social network, Zuckerberg had a variety of opportunities, from picking the company’s now iconic logo to leading a live stream of the presidential inauguration.

“In one day, I’d be working with a major financial institution about using social media,” she says. “Then I’d be on the phone with the president of Haiti talking about how to respond to the earthquake, and working with the White House on something, and we’d be working with a brand advertiser, and then we’d be hosting Katy Perry talking about her album and launching it on Facebook. I kid you not. We would do all those things in one day. There was a day where I was like, ‘Um, hold on; the White House is on the phone.’ Who says that in their day-to-day life?”

Zuckerberg left Facebook in August 2011 to start her own company called R to Z Media, which helps businesses effectively use social media. From telling authentic stories to creating a loyal fan base, Zuckerberg gave her top 10 tips and trends in social media, advising students to constantly think about how they could make something “more social.”

To conclude her speech, Zuckerberg emphasized the major role social media now plays in current events and everyday life.

“We’re looking at a world where people have a voice, for the first time in events like Arab Spring where they would have been voiceless before,” she says. “To have spent the last six years having such a front-row seat in these world events, to seeing the role that social media plays in our lives, and to now being in a place where there are entire college majors being created around what we worked on, is extremely exciting.” 

Emerging Media

IC launched a new, interdisciplinary emerging media major this spring for the next wave of Zuckerbergs. It includes courses in computer science, television-radio, and strategic communication.

The major is a joint effort between the Park School of Communications and the School of Humanities and Sciences, and there are three concentrations: media computation, media design and production, and media entrepreneurship.

During their final two years, as they specialize in courses within their concentrations, students will be brought together in interdisciplinary teams to work on a major projectjust as they would function in a work environment. This type of collaboration will help communications students and computer science students speak the same language.

“Emerging media is a combination of technical and creative expertise. But the current model is to have students focus on one or the other,” said Sharon Stansfield, associate professor of computer science. “But in the ‘real world’ they will need to know how to work together. That’s the future.”