By Elisabeth Goodman1
Adapted from the original NetIKX blog: Social Media – what next and what can we do with it?
This was the 3rd of NetIKX‘s seminars on the theme of social media, a topic which sits in the group’s 2010-2012 programme framework for Information and Knowledge Management under “Harnessing the web for information and knowledge exchange”.
Previous NetIKX seminars on this theme have explored whether social media should be taken seriously, and how social media could be used to achieve organisational goals and the implications for organisational IM / KM policies and strategies.
This seminar took a broad look at emerging trends and products, their likely implications, and how social media are being, or could be used.
The two speakers were Steve Dale, “a passionate community and collaboration ecologist, creating off-line and on-line environments that foster conversations and engagement” and Geoffrey Mccaleb who describes himself as a social media / mobile consultant.
The common themes arising from the presentations, break-out groups, and concluding Q&A were as follows:
1. Social media have been evolving into so much more than plain communication tools.
Most readers will already know that tools such as LinkedIn are now key reference points for recruitment, but Twitter is also a growing reference source for this.
The political and journalistic uses of Twitter are also well publicised.
And most people will be aware of the increasing importance of social media for managing an organisation’s reputation: monitoring and responding to comments made by customers or would-be customers, engaging with customers, and generally generating related publicity.
2. A broader exploration of how social media are evolving
Facebook lends itself well to sharing information on interests and hobbies. In fact I’m having great fun at the moment with a ‘cooking enthusiasts” group that I’ve set up with my friends, and their friends. There are other tools, such as ‘Pinterest’ that take sharing of this kind of information to another level.
Scoop.it, paper.li, Storify, Flipboard are all examples of how ‘social curators’ can bring together content from several different sources that may be of interest to their audiences. Although we did not discuss this at length, this might be a tool that Library and Information professionals could use to help their end-users with information overload?
Some tools enable people to manage the sharing of physical resources (referred to by Steve Dale as ‘collaborative consumption‘). Examples of this are ‘Boris’s’ bikes (the London shared bicycle scheme) and ‘airbnb’ to rent out ones house / bedrooms to visitors e.g. to the Olympics. Might this be an alternative model for managing information resources between organisations?!
Managing big data is a pet subject of Steve Dale’s, with data sets such as medical and traffic data on the cloud becoming so large that they can no longer be managed with standard database management tools. Visualisation and infographics tools are one way to make sense of them all.
Game-ification is an interesting exploration of how the ‘game’ attributes of user engagement, loyalty to brands, and rewards might be transferred to a professional social network environment. In a previous seminar we heard how The Open University Library Services were already experimenting with using virtual reality tools as a support for their services. Game-ification may take this further?
Augmented reality applications for golf let you know where the nearest bunker is and the direction of the wind. Pointing your phone at the sky can give you information about the constellations. Augmented reality applications help you to look at your world in a different way.
Location-based tools such as Foursquare enable you to find out what’s near you, check-in, see who else is there, become ‘mayor’ of your local pub(!) etc. ‘Easypark’ enables you to pay your parking fee and have a count-down to let you know how much time you have left to park. There is potential for these tools to be so much more than a status update, because they tell others that you like something / somewhere.
3. Some final reflections on technology trends and implications
Technology cycles are usually 10 years long, and we are now 2 years into mobile technology and ‘apps’. The anticipation is that mobile technology will overtake desktop technology within 5 years.
All the people that we interact with online represents our ‘social graph‘: who we know and who we respect online. Our online contacts can have a tremendous influence on what we choose to buy – as I discovered when I found myself, somewhat to my surprise, purchasing something on Amazon that others had recommended without even ‘looking inside’ first.
4. Implications of what we heard
We explored several themes in our break out discussions and in the Q&A that followed:
- The changing role of the information intermediary. Are we being pushed out of our roles by these tools – or does our ‘cyberlibrarian’ or ‘curator’ role become even more important?
- The associated information risk. With a lot of personal information going on the internet / in the cloud, is there more scope for criminal activity and identify theft?
- How to decide what tools to use and when? The key is being clear about who we are trying to target and what tool(s) they would use. Phil Bradley’s presentation and notes: “25 barriers to using web 2.0 technologies and how to overcome them” might provide some good insights on internal organisational barriers and how to address them.
- Using social media tools within organisations. Chatter, Yammer are Twitter like tools being used within organisations, and in some cases have a dramatic effect on lowering the use of e-mail. Such tools could be excellent for idea generation and problem solving, or ‘crowd-sourcing’ within an organisation.
2. See also Elisabeth Goodman’s blog on Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community