Saturday, 12 May 2012

Social media

It's a long one. 

I went to a day of workshops on libraries, all interesting and fun. The last workshop, from social media guru Phil Bradley, was very insightful.

It was good to be made to think about these issues from this perspective, I don't think about things like this in a professional light - for me, the internet has always been a big playground, the place I go to unwind after work, to be silly and creative, to chat - it's the polar opposite of work. (I know that's not true for everyone, depending on their job.)

I had to take a deep breath at some of the things he said, because when I first came across the online world, it was through blogs, and few people were using their real names or pictures of themselves. Sometimes a blogger would reveal a photo and it was like they were doing a strip-tease. And there was general horror among bloggers when Facebook arrived - what, you used your REAL NAME? People could see it was you - and your boss could connect to you too?

I've had a presence online more or less since 2005 but what I liked about it was the anonymity. I haven't been so comfortable coming out from behind a mask, which is why I'm rarely on Facebook . Now that this talk made me think about establishing a more professional presence online, I wonder if I need to set up separate blogs, Twitters, etc, for work?

Anyway, here are some of the points made by Phil Bradley. You social media types are all au fait with this already, but for me it was all revelatory.

1.) Content is no longer King  - it's all about the context of where you find information - no longer on websites, but across different social media. (there was a running joke about the Big 6 - can you name the Big 6?)

2.) Websites are becoming less useful. More attention is being paid to individual people, rather than to websites as in the past. He gave the example of the American being sued by his old company - when he stopped tweeting about their products and moved elsewhere, his thousands of followers obviously went with him. But they were following him, not his company. 

Being on social media gives people power and authority - Phil made the point that we are all self-employed now, whether we work for a company or not. The job for life has gone. (This struck home in  my present circumstances.)It is true, more and more frequently people have found my blogs by doing information searches in blogs, rather than through Google - I wondered why, and this explains it.
- related point -  Two other speakers also mentioned Linked In  as being quite useful 1) because it tells you information about people's careers paths, which helps you in careers research, and 2) because they have a good deal with Google, if you are on Linked In, something positive and professional about you will come up first in Google searches on your name. So don't pooh-pooh Linked In.
3)  For information professionals, social media is information, equally as valid as information found in books, newspapers, etc. Organisations can't afford not to have a social media accounts, it's their business to know and be able to filter information. 

3.) Information people who say their organisations don't need a Facebook or Twitter account are scared at the future and concerned for their jobs. But Facebook is a professional site. Facebook will be setting up its own search engine eventually. It would like to encompass the whole internet - it doesn't want you to leave Facebook. (Yes, this is especially annoying when people post Guardian news links on FB and it won't let you go to the Guardian site but tries to make you install a Guardian app instead.)

4.) Because there is an overload of information, you need your own social network to be able to highlight the important stuff to you. If 5 of your Twitter friends are talking about something simultaneously, you know you need to see it.

5.) Google is not a search engine, it's an advertising agency with a search function. It is scared because after years of dominance, it now has competition who can do things better, and its day is nearing an end.  Information professionals need to know about better ways to search than on Google (some mentioned - Blekko, Zite aggregates social media stories, Scoop - a place to put interesting news stories. Pinterest. There were more. All of these can be shared, you can follow other users, etc. My head is spinning with the amount of stuff out there.)

6.) All of this means the future will be less searching, more finding.

And in summary:

Social results are more important.
You can affect rankings.
Go to where the conversations are.
Websites are less valuable as time goes on.
People ask people that they know.
It's all just information.

I'm sad that my playground is turning corporate. But I think it's inevitable.


  1. Hi Annie, I just found my way here from someone else's blog... as you do.

    Interesting stuff - it's scary how fast the world of communications is changing, and how hard it is to keep up with it - will check out those sites in your point 5.... But it should still be a playground too! 8-)

  2. Hello Broken Biro! You have the job I want! I am envious. I know, it will still be a playground... but I feel like I have to present a more serious side and that is a dilemma, do I need two online personas these days?

  3. I feel like I should weigh in on this, since it's my area of professional expertise but I'd have to charge you £200 an hour consultancy. Or we could come to some 'arrangement'.

  4. Um. I can't afford you. Oh go on, you know you want to.