Friday, 3 January 2014

How social are your media?

Happy New Year to all. I hope you're all doing well, and some of you will be sharing such information via social media of various kinds. There's the seemingly ubiquitous Twitter, the suit-and-tie LinkedIn, the snap-and-share Instagram and even the partly-owned-by-Justin-Timberlake musicality of MySpace ... and lots more. Enough social media to be sociable amongst themselves it seems with more interconnections than the New York Subway.

The days of needing to grow your own web pages, and even your own blogs, have moved on to an environment where we're all a kind of DJ, broadcasting our favourite moments and collecting followers like small boys collect stamps.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines social media as "web sites and applications which enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking" and gives the origin of the term (or at least its first citation) as 2004 with a conference called The Business of Social Media ... so this could be its tenth anniversary, at least of the term itself. MySpace and LinkedIn were formed in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006 and Instagram in 2010.

Wikipedia's list of social networking sites is instructive. The earliest one dated in the list is classmates.com in 1995 (the UK equivalent, Friends Reunited, dates from 2000). Older than I expected. Even more interesting, and extensive, is the page on social networking itself. This one reads a bit like an abbreviated PhD thesis! It's a big social world out there.

If you're a business it's very difficult to keep up. Since the sites will wax and wane in popularity you will need someone who can follow the trends and advise which networks fit best with your clients' communications. IMHO Twitter and LinkedIn are a minimum (and in my case probably the maximum as well). Facebook seems to be the leader, with most unique visitors, at least in the English-speaking world. The end of 2013 saw a brief flurry of questions about Facebook possibly losing its core teen audience because they didn't want to be on the same network as their parents. This needed more careful examination and fortunately that came from the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones. Did you know that in part of Australia you can be served a summons via Facebook?

I've scored a couple of successes by contacting companies via Twitter and picked up some interesting followers. Pick the right 'DJs' that you want to follow ... for their news or their jokes or their photos. I'll tweet this iProfessionals blog entry and make the whole thing somewhat recursive. The main thing is that you need to make regular, even if occasional, use of your social media accounts and then people will know where to find you. I'm at @Delverie.

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