Social networking – what is it anyway?
Social networking. Social media. What are they? I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes to put into words a concept that is so inherently a part of your life, so I will admit to struggling to find the right words to adequately explain what social networking is to me! So, here goes. I believe that social networking is an inherent part of the way that people interact today – it certainly is for me, and research shows that I’m not the only one! Recent statistics show that 71% of US adults use facebook, and the amount of internet users who use multiple social media platforms rose from 42% in 2013 to 52% in 2014 (Duggan et al, 2015) Using social media tools such as facebook, twitter, google plus, and whatever else comes along in the months and years ahead, social networking is about connecting, communicating, and collaborating. Rather than being a solitary activity, involving just yourself and your computer, social networking creates enormously powerful opportunities to interact with people who share similar ideas, interests and involvements, and allows you to contribute and collaborate to projects and conversations that would not normally be possible. It is, at its heart, about connections – as Grossman says, when discussing my Time Person of the Year award, “it is a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.” (2006)
I use social networking a lot. And, according to Huffpost, I’m not alone – in 2013, social networking overtook porn as the number one activity on the web. Bizarre I know – as is the statistic that the fastest growing demographic on twitter is the 55-64 age bracket. (Cooper, 2013) It’s strange what you can find out when you google “social media” huh?
Anyway, in all seriousness, my social networking is both personal and professional, and there are often tenuous barriers between these two aspects of my social media life. I use facebook on a daily basis, and I manage a couple of groups – one for fellow CSU students as a place to connect and commiserate as we study for our Masters, and one for my Library Warriors (students who have volunteered to be a part of our library team!) I also act as a second staff member on a number of our school facebook groups which have been set up by teachers to support a number of senior classes at our school. I also manage our school facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/EvansHighSchool), and have as of yesterday started in an admin role on the SLANSW facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/School-Library-Association-of-New-South-Wales/791343294233335).
I also use twitter (@tamararodgers74): I initially had a separate personal account, and kept this one for purely professional interactions, however this is my primary twitter account now. I also manage our school’s twitter account (@evanshigh), although this mostly involves a direct feed from our facebook page. Instagram is my guilty pleasure, with my personal stream being joined by one for our school (@evanshigh) and one for our library (@evanslibrary), and pinterest takes up far more of my life at 12am than is possibly healthy – with a personal page (http://www.pinterest.com/princesstamara/) and a school one (http://www.pinterest.com/evanshighschool/) which is a new addition to our social media profile, and a work in progress. I use goodreads as a way of tracking my reading and book collections, and have recently started stalking people on there … ahem, I mean, connecting with other users to discuss books and authors. I have dabbled in using sites like diigo and google plus, but they haven’t featured heavily in my regular social media profile, and I’ve used google docs, Second Life, edmodo and moodle as collaborative tools in a variety of professional contexts with a similar level of expertise (ie I’m still wearing floaties in most of these!)
Personally, social networking allows me to keep in contact with what’s going on in the equally busy lives of my family and friends. Professionally, it allows me to collaborate with colleagues, share ideas and resources, crowd source solutions to problems, and, possibly most importantly for me, communicate the powerful and important contributions that my school community is making to the lives of our students. As a result of my ongoing work with our school social media profile, I have contributed a “Social Media Tips” page which is used by NSWDEC Corporate Communications to provide guidance to schools who are looking at setting up their own social media presences. I will also be collaborating with the Communications and Engagement Team as they work on formulating the social media strategy for the Department, with a focus on consolidating and growing online community engagement based on best practice, which apparently Evans demonstrates! (That was a seriously cool email to receive, fyi … It’s nice to know that our hard work has been recognised!)
What am I hoping to get out of this subject? To be honest, I’ve already got some of it … significant modelling of best practice in how to use social media as an instructional tool. I’m loving the facebook page as a connection and discussion point. I’m highly excited by assignment one, and can’t wait to put into practice some of what I’ve been thinking about with regards to our use of facebook, goodreads and pinterest as collaborative elements in our library communications. I’m hoping for some more grounding in ways to use other social networks as curation tools, as my expertise in these is really limited to pinterest, and I’d like to have some more tools in my arsenal.
And, after reading all that, I’ve realised why I don’t spend much time sleeping – I’m online too much! 🙂
Cooper, B (2013) Ten social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-social-medi_b_4325088.html Accessed March 14 2015.
Duggan, M, Ellison, N, Lampe, C, Lenhart, A, and Madden, M. (2015) Social Media Update 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/ Accessed March 14 2015.
Grossman, L (2006) Time’s Person of the Year: You. Time, Dec. 13, 2006. Cited in Sharing, Privacy and Trust in our Networked World, http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/reports/pdfs/sharing.pdf. Accessed March 14 2015.