I just came back from seeing Jim Jarmusch’s film ‘Paterson’ where the sweet character by the same name stated “Life was perfectly fine before smartphones”. Whereby, his equally sweet girlfriend’s response is “But it makes things easier.”
This resonated with me as I recalled older means of communication and how life was about 15 years ago when the internet was not at its’ current maturity. Telephones calls, written letters, snail mail, printed news and tradition media was the norm then. Fast-forward and things have definitely shifted with the exponential growth of social media in the digital age. We now live in a world of citizen news, social networks, digital connections, push media – where we have to be vigilant to distinguish what is trusted content or misinformation. The broadcast model is truly smashed! The smartphone is changing the way we use traditional media, with the young using internet sources and less so by the older population using tradition media such as radio, magazines and newspapers according to this eMarketer graph. The younger crowd are going for Instagram and Snapchat and the older crowd to Facebook and LinkedIn. The share of the market by demographics is a clear indicator of who and how we are using these.
What about me? It has been about ten years since I started using social media but as a librarian and information profession, it is a skill set that we have been evolving naturally over a long time. We still are excellent at consuming, digesting, regurgitating, classifying, cataloguing and disseminating information for sharing, awareness and future use. Information overload is no big deal for us as we sort the “wheat from the chaff”. Don’t get me wrong! I tend to share a load of rubbish myself. I frequently explain to people that I handle serious, factual and hard-core information – so, social media is lightweight and therefore easy for me. What I try to do with social media is stay informed, self-regulate my content, be respectful and simply entertain you and myself in the process. I love sharing music, foodie stuff, art, photos and lots of fun things.
Now let’s look at the show-stopping current figures for social media platforms. The market research publisher Key Note summarizes “that in the United Kingdom alone, the UK population have become intertwined into the daily lives of many consumers, facilitating what has been described by observers as the digital revolution. Social as a phenomenon is both immediate and ubiquitous, making it a compelling, and potentially viral, marketing platform for both large and small companies”. The figures for users are phenomenal too with Facebook having 1.55 billion users active per month, You Tube 1 billion, Instagram and LinkedIn 400 million each, Twitter had 320 million and Google+ had 300 million (but currently falling off a cliff). There are important and valid reasons for using social media, such as for the following:
- Communication Tool
- Customer Engagement
- Product Development
- Increase Revenue and Sales
- Increase Brand Recognition and Credibility
- Grow an Online Community
- Be Transparent and Trustworthy
- Word-of-Mouth Recommendations (such as our likes, comments, feedback)
Social media makes businesses as smart and connected as the world we live in. But you might have guessed that my personal favourite uses of social media are for current awareness, news, hot topics (a Knowledge Management term), to connect with people and to stay in touch with family, friends and acquaintances. Some of the regular activities we conduct on smartphones are listed as:
- Read or send emails 60%
- Visit social networks 52%
- Browse websites for personal interests 42%
- Download apps for free 39%
- Online banking 38%
- Watch video clips on sites such as You Tube 35%
- Purchase goods or services online 34%
- Download/stream music over the internet 24%
- Use instant messaging services such as BBM 20%
- Watch catch-up TV 14%
Source: eMarketer – note ages 15+; in the past 3 months Source: Ipsos MORI, “Tech Tracker: Q3 2015,” Sep 2, 2015.
If you are connected on social media to me – you would know that I am a prolific social media user. I am quite unique (but similar to other business librarians!) in that I have managed information on some HEAVY subjects (as I say…A to Z of subjects) and these are built into my psyche, consciousness and allows me endless mindfulness to share information and knowledge. This uniqueness is enhanced and highlighted as I work at the British Library, whose corporate motto is ‘The World’s Knowledge’. Enough said – there really is no stopping us here. There is enough soul, momentum and forward thinking content to keep us on our toes, fingertips and therefore to share constantly on multiple social media channels.
You may have noticed that I am passionate about life and find immense pleasures in sharing the best of humanity, good work and love that I encounter in my simple life. I would like to proclaim that I am a social media champion. I had spoken seriously at CILIP almost 10 years ago on ‘Strategic Library Services – Global Collaboration and Business Benefits’ on the finer points of using collaborative technologies. I also spoke with a panel of health professionals for Social Media Week 2012 on ‘Collaborating on Cancer’ at City Hall London. I have also been delivering with my colleague Neil Infield our ‘Social Media Masterclass’ Workshop and Webinar at the Business & IP Centre, where we aim to demonstrate the various social media platforms and give you tips on how to use them effectively to engage customers to increase sales and brand awareness.
As I conclude, the sheer speed that social media is moving in the world means that you MUST be active in using these to be au fait with all the functionality and features…or you will get left behind. In the short space of time, we have seen Google+’s launch to its current demise, Instagram grow, Twitter fade, Facebook saturate. I am still playing catch-up with Snapchat, What’s Up and whatever else will come our way.
The sheer speed that social media is moving in the world means that you MUST be active in using these to be au fait with all the functionality and features…or you will get left behind. …On Social Media.
Before these media shifts in communication, Sean Williams writes in ‘Connecting in the Social-Media Age’ U-Wire (University of Utah) – “people had to pay for expensive long distance calls. Social media makes it easier to send messages to thousands of people at the same time, all at no cost”. I remember being a foreign student and not being able to call my parents in Trinidad for months on end, and when I relied upon letters by airmail! This is no longer the case. With smartphones in the palm of our hands – the key is in the convenience. It is the game changer.
There is no letting up in technological advances and we must continue to use these platforms for businesses, but also for social good. Some irresponsible politicians deliberately choose to divide us and appeal to negative attitudes and menial behaviour. We must not let that deter us from all that is good and positive about social media. Personally – I think it will be quite boring if we were to talk about business or politics all the time. We can aim to continue to discuss our connected world, deepen our knowledge on issues and find innovative solutions to real problems. So what are we waiting for…let’s get on with it and have some fun!