Social Media – something for everyone

16 09 2012

Life before constant connection

It’s hard to believe, but just 10 years ago, no one had heard of the juggernaut that is “social media”.

If we wanted to keep in touch with friends and family, we had to use the phone or email or write the old-fashioned way – on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp!  I suspect there are quite a few kids (even teenagers) out there who have never had to use a stamp.  A sign of the times, maybe, but I do find this a bit sad.

Finding old friends from high school was almost impossible.  School reunions required a lot of effort – obtaining enrolment records and manually extracting the home phone numbers of each student’s parents and hoping that they hadn’t moved.  For a recent school reunion in 2010, we still had to follow this procedure, but the bulk of our old mates were found via Facebook.

Sharing digital photos was a slow process – sending photos to my mother involved attaching one or two photos to an email and, as broadband was not yet a reality either, waiting for my email system to crunch and grind away at those bytes and knowing that Mum’s computer would take about half an hour to download each one.  It was hardly worth it.  More often than not, we would print out photos at our local photo kiosk (2 copies of each of course) and send them in the mail.

Ultimate Networking

They may or may not have realised it at the time, but the creators of the World Wide Web created the ultimate networking tool – and, in the process, changed the world.  A framework that inspired (and continues to inspire) creative types to develop social networking, gaming and other communication platforms, that have brought us all closer than ever before to the rest of the world (sometimes a little too close).  Now, within seconds, we can share photos, videos, news, our life, our business, gossip, and inspiration.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I’m working on another post, which will look at different types of social media users and the pros and cons for each.  Stay tuned.

So, what’s out there?*

Facebook – Launched 2004 – 955 million active users (June 2012)

Twitter – Launched 2006 – 500 million active users (2012)

LinkedIn – Launched 2003 – 175 million active users (June 2012)

Google+ – Launched 2011 – 150 million active users (June 2012)

Foursquare – Launched 2009 – 20 million users (April 2012)

Pinterest – Launched 2010 – 11.7 million users (January 2012)

* I sourced the statistics from Wikipedia.

Not a definitive list, so don’t shoot me if I didn’t include your favourite.   Personally, I use Facebook and – to a lesser extent – LinkedIn.  I’ve tried Twitter but had trouble sticking to the 140 character limit (I just have too much to share).

Sharing – a fundamental human need

Whether it’s the act of sharing itself, or our need for validation and affection, which is satisfied when we share something that creates positive feedback, sharing is natural behaviour.  It’s not at all surprising that social media has taken off in the way that it has.

How do you share?

Now it’s my time to seek validation…if you’re reading this, please comment.  Share how you share – what social media platform, or platforms, do you use?  How often do you use social media?  Do you only use social media for personal purposes, or do you use it in your work / business life as well?

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One response

17 09 2012
David Thompson

Social; media has introduced some interesting issues. On the plus side it allows us to share ideas and collaborate with like-minded people anywhere in the world and anyone can be a publisher, I see a blog like yours (and mind) as the equivalent of a regular column in a magazine or newspaper.

On the downside there are no constraints imposed on what gets published, and while I personally go to great lengths to ensure that what I write will stand up to any scrutiny, there are others who present what look like compelling and credible arguments that are deeply flawed (the climate change deniers are a good example).

Overall though, it’s a good thing and it is probably the only way we can build the critical mass we need to exact change.

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