So­cial me­dia here to stay

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I HAVE been lis­ten­ing to peo­ple crit­i­cis­ing the use of so­cial me­dia, with pre­sen­ters on some ra­dio sta­tions claim­ing they are dan­ger­ous and can desta­bilise the coun­try.

I dif­fer sharply with this school of thought. First, we must re­mem­ber that we are in the 21st cen­tury, the in­for­ma­tion age. Most of us are BBTS (Born Be­fore Tech­nol­ogy).

That fact should not di­vorce us from the re­al­ity that Face­book and other so­cial me­dia are used widely through­out the world for a good cause.

Some peo­ple think their skewed un­der­stand­ings on the use of so­cial me­dia is what ev­ery­body must fol­low espe­cially if it is aired on the ra­dio.

Let me be diplo­matic and say I un­der­stand where they come from. It is not a sin if some of us are not con­ver­sant with so­cial me­dia, but it is a bit un­fair to try to com­pel other peo­ple to hate it as such a move would only shall dis­ad­van­tage them.

Nowa­days, when an ac­ci­dent oc­curs on the N1, for in­stance, the mes­sage trav­els much faster through so­cial net­works with the ben­e­fit of first hand news by a per­son on the ground.

The per­son on the ground can even send images ac­com­pa­ny­ing the text. Where else can you get the news that fast?

When you read the news at what­ever time, so­cial me­dia users would have prob­a­bly known the news some hours be­fore.

I am not go­ing to en­ter­tain the no­tion that what is posted on so­cial me­dia are al­ways lies.

Who said what is aired on ra­dio sta­tions is gospel truth. Peo­ple have to be rea­son­able of course and ver­ify what­ever they hear in the me­dia as a whole.

United States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and many other world lead­ers and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives use so­cial me­dia ex­ten­sively. Who are we then to let the won­ders of tech­nol­ogy pass us by?

The 2008 Obama Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign made his­tory. Not only was Mr Obama the first African Amer­i­can to be elected pres­i­dent, but he was also the first pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to ef­fec­tively use so­cial me­dia as a ma­jor cam­paign strat­egy.

It’s easy to for­get, given how ubiq­ui­tous so­cial me­dia is to­day, that in 2008 send­ing out vot­ing re­minders on Twit­ter and in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple on Face­book was a big deal.

Again in the 2012 elec­tions, Mr Obama dom­i­nated the so­cial me­dia space be­cause his team got how net­works work.

The real power of so­cial me­dia is not in the num­ber of posts or Tweets but in user en­gage­ment mea­sured by con­tent spread­abil­ity.

For ex­am­ple, Mr Obama logged twice as many Face­book “Likes” and nearly 20 times as many retweets as his op­po­nent Mitt Rom­ney. With his ex­ist­ing so­cial me­dia base and spread­able con­tent, Mr Obama had far su­pe­rior reach.

Yet I hear many a ra­dio sta­tion hosts say­ing so­cial me­dia is a for­eign prac­tice we should not in­dulge in.

Some of the hosts try to use the up­ris­ings in Egypt and Tu­nisia as a launch pad for crit­i­cis­ing so­cial me­dia.

What they fail to ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand is that the up­ris­ing was not caused by the use of so­cial me­dia but by peo­ple who were fed-up with tyranny and au­toc­racy.

So­cial me­dia was just a medium through which they were able to put across their ideas fast.

Closer to home, the South African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion uses so­cial me­dia ex­ten­sively to pro­mote its con­tent across the ra­dio and tele­vi­sion chan­nels.

This is the case for all the main­stream me­dia across the world.

Peo­ple should get their facts straight be­fore go­ing on air. That is one of the things that so­cial me­dia users should also do; get the facts right and pub­lish.

I con­cede though that peo­ple should be care­ful how they use so­cial me­dia.

How­ever, that does not mean so­cial me­dia is as bad as some peo­ple would like us to be­lieve. Peo­ple want to ac­cess the lat­est news fast but with bal­ance and cred­i­bil­ity.

One thing peo­ple have got to be aware of is young peo­ple are not nec­es­sar­ily read­ing the tra­di­tional nor are they lis­ten­ing to ra­dio sta­tions.

They are now go­ing on­line to get the lat­est news from their so­cial me­dia ac­counts. Go to any on­line edi­tion of a news­pa­per and see how many peo­ple com­ment on the hot top­ics.

If you share a news item onto your so­cial me­dia ac­count, you will be amazed by how many peo­ple will com­ment. So­cial me­dia has the fea­tures which make it a use­ful tool in to­day’s fast world.

There are some dos and don’ts which peo­ple should think about

Five Don’ts: 1. Mak­ing friend re­quests strangers 2. Tag your friends in shots 3. Over­share your­self 4. Vent about your work

to

‘unglam’

5.

Post chain sta­tus up­dates

At the end of the day, it’s en­tirely up to us to fol­low these eti­quette rules.

I guess it’s about find­ing the bal­ance be­tween be­ing fun and sen­si­tive to ev­ery­one.

On one hand, we shouldn’t re­strict our­selves with rules and reg­u­la­tions that would limit the cre­ativ­ity and spon­ta­neous­ness of our so­cial in­ter­ac­tions.

On the other hand, we ought to be aware of the pub­lic­ness of so­cial me­dia to pro­tect our pri­vacy and, at the same time, re­spect the fact that each one of us forms part of the so­cial me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence of ev­ery­one else.

Find that right bal­ance and you’ll not only bet­ter that ex­pe­ri­ence your­self, but also help oth­ers en­joy it as well!

My ad­vice to tra­di­tional me­dia is to in­no­vate and make strides by mix­ing ‘work with plea­sure’ get out of the more tra­di­tion news­feed and mix with the in­ter­net fea­tures oth­er­wise you shall be over­taken by events and loose read­er­ship and lis­ten­er­ship. By the way, I am a great fan of face­book and do not re­gret be­ing part of this global phe­nom­e­non.

Thak­a­banna Nyokana.

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