The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

A second chance
May 7, 2024

From creativity to controversy

The SUNY Brockport logo and the TikTok logo combined. (Canalside Chronicles/Jennifer D’Angelo)

Fiery social media arguments have swept across the country after the House of Representatives passed legislation that could ban the popular social media platform TikTok in the United States. One of these issues at the heart of this debate is those who depend on social media for their livelihood; content creators. 

Stevie Rudak is SUNY Brockport’s digital content specialist. It is her job to manage SUNY Brockport’s social media channels and generate content.  

“I just love being the voice of a brand. I think it’s super cool, and also super overwhelming and everchanging at the same time,” Rudak said. “Which I really like, it’s ever evolving, and it’s just fast paced which is something I really enjoy, especially in the workforce.” 

Rudak works with a team of fellow content creators to generate web content for the university’s social media sites and craft stories for the university’s electronic newsletter. 

“We are super collaborative and I think that helps so much, especially with content creation. All ideas are brought to the table no matter what they are no matter who has them, we all listen to one another. We all really take into account everyone’s point of view, so it’s kind of like a content democracy as well,” said Rudak.  

The doors to the Office of University Communications at SUNY Brockport. Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Canalside Chronicles/Jennifer D’Angelo)

Social media sites allow SUNY Brockport to have a direct line of communication with its current students and outreach to potential students. Without these channels, the university would have to make some significant changes to its current operations.  

“I think a lot of emphasis would go into email communications, definitely the website. Handling a lot of content stuff on websites I think would take a lot more precedent,” Rudak said. “Probably face to face communication, too, even though I know that’s probably hard after COVID and everything. It’s been kind of a struggle to get that face-to-face communication and get the generations that are coming from high school to college to come out of their shell.” 

Social media sites are also a way for organizations like SUNY Brockport to keep up with the current trends. Content creators use trends to shape the content that represents the university and is put out to their target audience.  

“We would definitely have to find another way to follow the trends and what the younger generation finds interesting. Like right now, we know that it’s those short video clips, the reels and the TikTok’s because the attention span is so miniscule,” said Rudak.  

The TikTok platform caters to the short attention span of the younger majority audience today, a tool immensely useful to brands and organizations. A study performed by Dr. Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, found that the average attention span is 47 seconds.  

TikTok was specifically curated with younger audiences in mind, from trend promotion to video length. Rudak explained the impact of losing the app on the university’s outreach. 

“It would be hurtful since TikTok does reach so many of Gen Z. TikTok reaches such a young generation that we would typically promote to, and we would probably be at risk of losing a lot of people seeing Brockport because we do put money behind our TikTok posts depending on what the content is to show off Brockport,” said Rudak. “That would just be another area where we’d lose that paid advertising. TikTok is the only platform where we can promote to a younger audience, and all the other ones are 18 and above. I think it would just hinder some people from seeing SUNY Brockport as an option, it wouldn’t pop up on their for you page if it wasn’t for that paid advertising.” 

Despite the recent turmoil surrounding content creation, Rudak couldn’t be prouder of the job she gets to do.  

Stevie Rudak’s workspace in the Office of University Communications at SUNY Brockport. Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Canalside Chronicles/Jennifer D’Angelo)

“I think it’s such a space where you have to learn to be adaptable and you have to learn how to be the voice of something other than yourself. Sometimes I do take things to heart because Brockport’s my baby but at the end of the day, I want to do justice by Brockport. And every day I show up to do that and I’m committed to doing it,” she said. “So, it just even keeps my purpose with my role so much more and I feel that motivation. I think that it really drives home the motivation to push out content, to channel your creative energy and just have a growth mindset in general,” said Rudak.   

Social media is a diverse landscape for content creators and users alike, from video length to hashtags to the content itself. Rudak emphasized the diversity of social media sites for both content creators and users alike. 

“Social media can sometimes be a very harsh place but it’s also such an educational place, it’s such a flourishing place, and it’s such a fruitful place. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t use it and it’s something that we use for our news and our information,” Rudak said. 

Stevie Rudak working at her desk. Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Canalside Chronicles/Jennifer D’Angelo)

SUNY Brockport’s Assistant Vice President for Communications, John Follaco, leads a team of content creators. Follaco and his team manage the many social media sites of SUNY Brockport.  

“The media landscape has shifted so much over the last 10, 15 years that it’s really imperative that an organization has the ability to tell their own story.” Follaco said.

Though the media landscape is ever changing, Follaco was able to create a solid foundation on which to build a content creation team. 

“So, we began building this content team out, and over the years we’ve really developed a strong unit that I think does a tremendous job telling the SUNY Brockport story,” said Follaco. “And emphasizing to our target audience what can be accomplished with a high quality and affordable SUNY Brockport degree.” 

Follaco started working at SUNY Brockport in 2011 as social media was gaining popularity. 

“Social media certainly wasn’t new when I started here 12, 13 years ago. It had emerged and was increasingly important. I think everyone could see then, the direction that it would go,” Follaco said.   

Before he worked at SUNY Brockport, Follaco worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a Senior Communication Specialist for several years. In that position, Follaco learned the significance of social media. 

“My boss there was really cutting edge in terms of getting ahead of the media landscape and understanding the need. He used to say, ‘we are our own publisher’ and we can’t rely on the media to tell our story, we have to tell our story ourselves,” Follaco said.

Follaco and the team of content creators he leads manage SUNY Brockport’s official social media channels such as TikTok, Instagram, X, LinkedIn and Facebook. Should any of these sites be impacted by a ban, Follaco explained the potential outcomes.  

“I’m quite confident something would emerge to take its place,” he said. “I fully suspect that the next big thing would be right around the corner.” 

Follaco explained that the legislation aiming to ban TikTok in the United States is not a threat to media itself.  

“I don’t think any legislation that’s being discussed is talking about banning the medium of social media. If something were to happen legislatively and a particular channel was to go away, the world’s always innovating. Social media is here to stay.” Follaco said.  

Though the social media scrutiny has been a talking point in recent weeks, Follaco shared it has not concerned him or his team.  

“It hasn’t really been a topic of conversation here. It’s been something that has been speculated for some time,” said Follaco. 

Follaco and his team have no worries about the ban but are prepared to adapt to any situation they may face.  

The Allen Administration Building on the SUNY Brockport campus where both Rudak and Follaco work. Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Canalside Chronicles/Jennifer D’Angelo)

“If it happens, we’ll adjust. It’s one of those situations where if it’s banned, it’s banned everywhere. It wouldn’t be a SUNY Brockport issue, we would all be on the same footing, so we’d figure it out,” said Follaco. “There’s a multitude of ways to get our story out and that would just be one fewer avenue.” 

Though accessibility issues could pose a threat to brands and organizations like SUNY Brockport in the future. 

“I would be more concerned if our competitors had access to a tool, we didn’t have access to,” Follaco said.   

Not fearing any impact on the career outlook for those interested in pursuing content creation, Follaco provided helpful advice for students.  

“Develop a versatile skillset. The future is about multimedia. Try to avoid specializing in one area,” said Follaco. “The more versatile your skillset, the more valuable you will be in the marketplace. A little bit of design skill can go a long way. Try to be well-rounded and understand multiple ways of storytelling.”  

Though the current social media argument has left many things unknown, there is one thing to be said for certain; Rudak, Follaco, and his team will continue to tell the SUNY Brockport story however they can.
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