May 11th, 2011
If you’re online, it’s not long before you’ll bump into icons for websites like Reddit, Digg, Mixx, Buzz, Twitter, or Facebook. What are these sites? They’re commonly referred to a “social networking” sites. It’s a popular phrase these days and according to Dictionary.com, social networking is “the use of a website to connect with people who share personal or professional interests, place of origin, education at a particular school, etc.” People use these sites to share information and often their lives with friends and acquaintances or to follow businesses or events. The 2 most popular sites are Facebook and Twitter; Facebook currently has over 500 million users, half of which log onto the site daily. This means that 1 in 14 people on Earth have a Facebook page! Twitter is also immensely popular and estimates that its members send 100 million “tweets” each day.
As we have become more “connected” to the internet as a society, these sites have gained a special significance. Mobile phones are now called “mobile devices” and access to the internet and specifically to social networking sites is easier than ever. Once someone opens an account, which is free by the way, they can connect to friends and family and begin to share photos, news stories of interest, personal information, etc. Twitter is slightly different, allowing friends to share only short 140 character “texts” or a photograph with their group of friends, making it easy to take a picture of something on your phone and “tweet” it instantly. So a quick note or “tweet” like, “Mary’s on the way to the prom” with an accompanying photo can be seen by family and friends, no matter where they are. Is this necessary? Maybe not, but right or wrong, this is how much of our communication is done these days. Consider this: a Pew Research study showed that 61% of Americans get some of their news online and 65% of people under 30 use the internet as their primary news source. Keep in mind too that almost every online news site has built-in, 1-click ways to send articles that you like directly to your Twitter or Facebook account to share. Information moves very quickly these days.
Across the Middle East and North Africa, more than 6 out of 10 people are under the age of 30, meaning that most have been exposed to the internet and the world outside their country for most of their lives. Growing up with this knowledge of life outside their borders and with ways to communicate instantly has played a significant role in the current conflicts. Activist Wael Ghonim of Egypt said “This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook….”
Cecil County Public Library has many books for beginners on using social networking sites, including Facebook for Dummies and Twitter for Dummies. If you’re looking to market your business or increase sales, try The Social Media Bible. Visit your local branch OR OUR FACEBOOK PAGE for more information.
What’s your favorite form of social media? Leave us a comment!