I have to be honest. Having participated in social media since the chat room days on AOL in the 90’s, I came to the point of questioning the importance of participating in the whole social media world.
I am not one of those folks who likes to broadcast my every waking moment and I do not feel the need to post every thought that enters my mind.
That being said…
I have accounts on most of the popular social media sites; Pinterest, LinkedIn, google+, twitter and I even made the reluctant switch from Myspace to Facebook when everyone seemed to have jumped ship.
But again, I asked, what is the point of it all?
A Shift in Purpose
It was not until I started my master’s program in Library Science that I started to understand that social media is more than just a place where people share pictures of their kids, what they had for dinner, their current vice, or crazy drama that really should be kept private.
People can use social media as a tool to connect to companies and organizations that are important to them. From a business perspective, companies and organizations can use social media as a tool to make their customers or participates feel important and involved.
Oliver Blanchard’s book Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization makes a clear distinction between what social media is and how it is different from social communication. Social media is the platform that can be used, while social communication is the actual connection between people in the community and people working within the organization (pg.7). It is not enough for a company or business to just start up a social media presence and think the social communication will just appear. Blanchard stresses the point there needs to be actual value for the company to have a social media presence and it is important to define the purpose of being on social media and set goals (pg.13-15). The management of the online communities is to be taken seriously because the creation of the connection between people and the organization is not guaranteed. It is the social communication that is the key and changing factor for me.
A New Value
I apply Blanchard’s teaching to the profession I aspire to be in. I am going to be a librarian. One of the key responsibilities of a librarian is to connect the library users to the library resources. Social media can be an incredibly valuable tool to make the library’s communities members have a connection to their library. Without a community, a library would be irrelevant.
I am now starting to see a new value in social media. The value can really be seen when we stop focusing so much on ourselves and the mundane details of our lives and start using the tool to connect with people and organizations we are truly passionate about.