A coworker had some questions for me about Social Media, so I thought I might as well get them out there where others could see them too.
In a nutshell, what is social media?
Social Media is a classification of websites and networks that allow users to share something (information, opinion, photos, data, music) with others in a manner that’s more dialogue than one-sided listening.
Why engage in social media?
Social Media connects people. The more connected you are, the richer your pool of knowledge from which you can tap.
Example: you want to know whether to go see the new Transformers movie. Do you put more weight in what Roger Ebert says or your friends on Facebook? You’re in need of suggestions for a theme for a party you’re throwing. Do you randomly Google for it, or ask people you’ve already selected on Twitter?
How do we engage in social media?
Engagement is participation, nothing more. Your uses and experience will always be different than others, because no one else shares your unique network, nor your purpose.
Who benefits from social media?
Social Media isn’t for everyone, but most do find a purpose and a flow that brings benefits.
I want to engage in social media, but am concerned about online predators. Can I engage and protect my personal information/identity?
Most networks give you options to secure your information, making it private or “friends only.” However, those are usually not default settings. Others give you greater control, where you can define precisely who can see your pictures and updates, and who can’t.
What are the dangers?
The dangers come from forgetting that you’re talking with real people. Real People can be offended by things you post, either because it represents an opinion they don’t share or they don’t have the full context of why you are posting it. Subtle things like body language and tone get lost in the shuffle of text-only messages — and it’s easy to lose track of ALL the people who might be seeing a particular update.
For the most part, as long as you’re clear in announcing how and what you will do with an account, setting those expectations removes most of the potential for offense.
What will social media look like in 5 years? 10 years?
Social Media is getting more increasingly mobile – the ‘where’ and ‘now’ of sharing is just as important as the content. Eventually, the term ‘Social Media’ will become irrelevant, because the aspects of it will be built into what we use every day. For instance, the little communities that spring up around the comment section of the stories on your newspaper’s website ARE a form of Social Media. You just don’t think of it that way, because it’s part of what you expect now.
We used to refer to the World Wide Web, but nobody says that anymore. Because the name and the concept are irrelevant — what we DO with the technology is.
Aren’t MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook just fads? Who says they’ll even be around in 5 years?
Will there be a MySpace or a Twitter 5 years from now? Who knows? And Who Cares? If the individual network isn’t there, it will be replaced by something that does the same thing and MORE, or BETTER. The function of that form of communication might go elsewhere, but it won’t disappear. Much in the same way that newspapers might die out, but journalism won’t.
How do I reap the benefits of social media; in other words, why not just text or email my friends and family? There is a cost, but at least I know whom I’m communicating with? What happens if I don’t pay attention to/get on board with social media?
It used to be that in the Age of Knowledge, our success was dependent upon what we knew, or could figure out with our own brain.
Then we moved into an Age of Taxonomy, where it was more important to know WHERE to look for something, or HOW to find it.
In the future, the Age of Interconnection, it won’t be as much about YOU knowing where to find information, it will be how good your NETWORK is at finding it. Again, turning to trusted (and connected) friends in a pinch always yields better answers and advice than blind Google.
If I missed something, let me know.