Social media here to stay
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
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.