Monday 16 July 2012

Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

This week is a quiet catch up week so you can all take a deep breath and relax! This is a chance for those still trying to complete previous Things to do so, but it also gives everyone a chance to pause and reflect for a moment (putting into practice the skills you all learnt in Thing 5).
Information professionals are turning more and more towards social media as a way of advancing their professional knowledge and networks. The initial run of CPD23 had nearly 100 registered participants before the programme started, rising to nearly 800. This was all achieved through promotion of the programme on social media, demonstrating the reach that it can have.
Using social media for professional development has been the subject of many recent articles and debates. In an article in CILIP’s Update magazine, Debby Raven gave a brief rundown of the advantages of information professionals using social media for professional development:
  • Social networking can lead to better communication. This can be with either people you already know, for example from events or work, or with people that you would never normally have a chance to meet. I’ve ‘met’ people on Twitter who I’ll probably never meet in real life, mainly because they live all over the world. Without social media it’s difficult to think how I could have made these connections
  • It creates a more collaborative working space where people are encouraged to share their ideas. Many participants made contact with each other as a result of taking part in the programme last year and there’s no telling what exciting projects have happened as a result!
  • It aids in building online communities. Whatever you particular passion is, both inside and outside the profession, there will be an online community devoted to it. Using social media to form communities was highlighted by Things 6 and 7 of CPD23. Many real life meet-ups were organised by participants, taking an online community into the real world
  • Social networking can also provide easy access to other areas of the profession. I work in an academic library and as a result my real life contacts tend to be from similar professional backgrounds.  Using social media has helped me to make contact with people in a variety of different sectors. This could have been a hassle in the real world, but social media has made it a much more informal process
By being part of an enthusiastic online community, information professionals can help to advance their own development. It’s important to remember though that social media is just that, a social network. There’s a danger that people will start to use these sites merely as a way to push out information and forget that they’re designed to help us interact. One piece of advice that I would give is that you will get as much out of social media as you put in. If you’re involved in a community then you will benefit from it a lot more than by just sitting on the side-lines.

With that in mind, here’s this week’s task: reflect on how you put the social into your social media use. Do you interact with people or do you lurk? Do you tend to stay within the comfort zone of your own sector or do you actively look for people who work in different areas of the profession? If you’re a bit reluctant to get involved, why do you think this is? Remember, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions - it’s all down to the individual! If anyone needs a bit of prompting, then try having a look at the blog of a CPD23 participant who is in a different sector to you. It could be a sector that you have an interest in or one that you maybe aspire to work in one day. Comment on one of their posts or maybe ask a question about their work. You never know what it might lead to….
Reference: Opportunities not to be missed / Debby Raven in CILIP Update, July 2011, pg. 43-45.
Photo credits:
Floating network / WebWizzard
Social media dim sum / The Daring Libarian

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