The “social” advantage in “social media”

August 10, 2011

For Thing 12, we are to blog about our experiences with social media, as it aids in professional development and with other observations.

In my experience, I have been on social media since 2006 when I joined Facebook as part of the college community where I worked.  I started Twitter in 2008, as well as LinkedIn.  I look at Facebook as my “personal” social outlet.  I use it to keep up with friends, family, and former colleagues, enjoying vacation pictures and staying connected with my nieces and nephews.  I don’t put anything on Facebook that I wouldn’t want anyone to see, but I am more personal and open than LinkedIn and Twitter, which I use more in a professional capacity.

For me, the advantage of these social networks has been the engendering of a feeling of connection while I am currently not working.  I have met a few people via personal networking, and am building additional LinkedIn contacts to help widen my possibilities through those connections.  The isolation I may have felt if I had been in this situation 10 years ago is non-existent, because I can view individual’s LinkedIn profiles, or read Twitter posts, and keep up with the profession from those I admire and trust.  This has been my professional development–keeping up with the profession via all these social media outlets really keeps me educated on the hot topics and keeps me abreast of ongoing challenges in the profession.

Seth Godin wrote a book called “Tribes” which discusses building a tribe (which could apply to anything–libraries, companies, hobbies, etc)–I think of social media as a way to belong to a tribe (in my case, those interested and focused on  information work).  Feeling like you belong to a “tribe” is a naturally satisfying feeling, and social media allows you to work and build on that feeling.

That said, I think a balance is essential–no one should be spending hours on social media as a replacement for face-to-face activity.  Social media are yet another tool that, used effectively, can supplement your online presence, help you to keep up with your profession,  or offer additional options to meeting people.  I think that the use of social media is an advantage and something that everyone in information work has to become familiar with and  embrace, as these tools (in one form or another) are here to stay.


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