Monday, 8 August 2011

Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media

Librarians and information professionals are turning more and more towards social media as a way of advancing their professional knowledge and networks. CPD23 had nearly 100 participants who registered before the programme started and this has since risen to 750 at the time of writing this post. This was all achieved through promotion of the programme using social media, which demonstrates the reach it can have.

In a recent article in CILIP's Update magazine, Debby Raven discussed this growing trend. She highlighted many recent studies which have explored the use of social media as a means for professional development and gave a brief rundown of the advantages:
  • social networking can lead to better communication between individuals who may or may not have the chance to meet otherwise
  • it creates a more collaborative working space as people are encouraged to share ideas
  • it aids in building online communities, which can then turn into real-life communities. This was highlighted by Things 6 and 7 of CPD23. During week five of the programme many real-life and virtual meet ups were organised by participants, taking an online community into the real world
  • social networking can provide easy access to other fields of the profession. I work in an academic library but social networking has provided me with a way to contact colleagues in a variety of different sectors to get opinions on different matters. This could have been a hassle but social media has made it a much more informal process

By being part of an enthusiastic online community, librarians and information professionals can help to advance their development. Due to the current economic circumstances many institutions have cut training budgets and individuals are finding it hard to justify the cost themselves. Social media seems ideally placed to help people advance themselves professionally in light of these developments.

Although it can't replace face to face networking, social media does give users a chance to interact with others within the profession. Networking can be a valuable way to see and be seen. You may start off small, with just a few friends and colleagues, but it's amazing how quickly and easily your contacts will build up. This can then lead to a valuable web of knowledge that you can use to develop yourself and your career. It goes without saying that the more you interact with others, the faster this network will build.

For Thing 12 I would like you to consider the role of social media in building up networks and a sense of community. Possible areas to consider are:
  • are there any other advantages to social networking in the context of professional development than those already outlined above?
  • can you think of any disadvantages?
  • has CPD23 helped you to make contact with others that you would not have had contact with normally?
  • did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? Will you keep using it after the programme has finished?
  • in your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor do you have to answer all the questions, they're just some prompts to get you thinking. If you only do one thing this week then add a new contact on any of the social media platforms that you've started using. It can be someone you already know, someone that you have heard mentioned or you can even follow Stephen Fry on Twitter! The important thing to do is to make a new virtual contact (or two) and open yourself up to the social side of social media.

References: Opportunities not to be missed by Debby Raven in CILIP Update, July 2011, pg. 43-45.

Photo credits: Web Wizzard and Documentally.

1 comment:

  1. This post gave me lots to think about. Although community certainly can be formed, I admit to wondering if one can truly form the kinds of intimate, deeply caring relationships that can be nurtured with F2F contacts. I also wonder if, because we are often alone at our computer when we are interacting with others, if in time our sense and definition of courtesy, good manners, and politeness won't morph into something different from our current cultural norms.

    That said, I do see that all the elements that form a community, are possible via social media although the environment is different.


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