In my first semester at Leeds Met, it became increasingly evident that social media was the future of PR (and Advertising, Journalism, Marketing & Networking for that matter). I realized the magnitude of social media when Richard Bailey not only allowed, but encouraged live tweeting throughout his lecture, with the hash tag #prlecsm.
Social media allows PROs to communicate and coverse with their publics instantly from the comfort of their office. It bypasses the traditional journalistic ‘middle men’ and puts power in the hands of of anybody and everybody. Communication has never been easier, with awesome smartphones and super-fast broadband, the power of social media is constantly growing, ushering in a ‘Golden Age’ for the PR industry.
However the revolution in social media, could lead to devolution in the real world. The most popular social media platform is without a doubt Facebook, which is currently valued at $50 billion. Over 500 million people worldwide have a Facebook account (including my nana!). However what can be a vibrant and entertaining platform can be abused and turn into anti-social media.
People seem to be so engrossed with their Facebook account that they neglect their offline lives. I actually overheard two girls the other day bickering over who had more friends on Facebook, as if it’s an accolade to have more friends added than someone else.
Some of my Facebook ‘friends’ post some insulting, childish, pointless and baffling status updates. I have actually starting removing people from my friends, because of their annoying updates on my so-called ‘news feed.’ I noticed that I didn’t even know some of the people on my friend list!
Without ranting too much, seemingly innocent things, such as uploading and tagging photos of people in a drunken mess can have disastrous consequences. Many employers have been deterred from hiring candidates because of embarrassing and unsavoury photos
It’s not just Facebook, Paul Chambers’s tweet in November last year read “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” This tweet may have been a joke, but Chambers was still sentenced to a £3,000 fine!
The Liverpool footballer Ryan Babel was fine £10,000 this week by the Football Association Regulatory Commission because he tweeted a picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Man Utd shirt following their 1-0 defeat. It’s worrying how social media has the power to become anti-social.
Although, social media is predominantly useful and entertaining. It allows friends, family and colleagues to communicate and network instantly across vast distances. Social media can and does empower people.
Just look at Linkedin, which allows people to connect with past and present colleagues as well as advertise themselves to prospective employers in a fair and objective way.Other social sites such as Foursquare allows you to tell your friends where you’ve been, where you’re going and the quality of that experience. Path is the opposite to Facebook, limiting you to 50 friends so you stay connected with the people that really matter in your life.
Moreover, after reading ‘Social media lessons from the year I spent in bed’ by Jennifer Kane, you realize the amount of benefits social media bring.