Monday kicks off UT's Social Media Week, a comprehensive series of panels and discussions hosted by the College of Communication and Information. The events will feature representatives from Buzzfeed, ESPN, Scripps Network, Diana Warner and other major corporations.

All events are free and open to the public, with the exception of an invitation-only, keynote luncheon at Calhoun's on Thursday.

UTSMW panels will provide a variety of ideas and issues regarding social media branding and marketing like "Creating Brand Awareness through Advertising and Public Relations with Social Media Platforms" and "How to Snag a Job in Social Media."

"We have a ton of diversity in both speakers and session topics this year," said Courtney Childers, associate professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations. "Attendees can expect to hear from social media experts in their craft, from learning how to use social media to get a job, to finding the ins and outs of managing social media for a huge, multidimensional brand like ESPN. Audience members should find plenty of takeaways to benefit them in the future."

While most students already use social media for personal use, Childers said few understand the application of social media in a professional setting.

"Most do not understand the importance of social media in the context of brand management – whether it be for a company, organization, or non-profit," Childers said. "I hope UTSMW provides a completely different perspective and helps prepare our students for future internship and career positions."

"In my classes, we've talked a lot about how social media can be used for business purposes instead of just for personal reasons," said Katie Isaguirre, a sophomore in public relations. "I'm interested to see how these speakers use the same websites that I use every day for their big name companies."

Social networks, Childers said, will only become more integral to our lives.

"Five to 10 years from now we may be talking about the 'next big thing' but social media has truly revolutionized the importance of making and maintaining connections, building relationships and being transparent," Childers said. "It has given everyone a voice."

More information about this year's UTSMW, including the panel schedule, can be found online here. UTSMW is also on Facebook, Twitter (@utsmw), and Instagram (@utsocialmediaweek).