Are we a generation of social media addicts?

Everyone seems to be using social media nowadays don’t you think? An estimated 2.03 billion people have active social media accounts which is equal to around 28% of the population. That’s one hell of a lot of cat videos, selfies and general viral stupidity. We spend a LOT of time using these things – only 39,757 years collectively spent on Facebook per day, no biggie. It doesn’t help the situation when you can carry them around with you everywhere you go. Nice one mobile technology.

The interesting infographic I’ve posted below prompted to think about social media and question whether or not it’s all just a passing trend? Social media sites fall in and out of fashion and yes, I’m thinking about you Bebo and Myspace. But I don’t think it is a passing trend. The sites we are using today might fall out of fashion yes, but I think the concept is here to stay. Gone are the days when we had to rely on actual face-to-face interactions if we wanted to socialise and gone are the days when we had to read a newspaper to find out what’s going on in the world… But does this mean social media “addicts” will withdraw into their online worlds, never to return to reality? No. Social media just helps us to communicate with each other in an increasingly busy world.

We shouldn’t forget about all of those people who aren’t using social media – 72% of the world’s population. In the UK 34% of adults do not have a social networking profile and in 2014 there were 4 million households (24%) without internet access; chances are they aren’t overly active on social media. It’s probably quite difficult to define what an “active” social media account even is. Lots of people have accounts but rarely use them. And despite the popularity of social media, I think a lot of people still need help setting up their profiles and using them. This is something that librarians can certainly help with.

Social media opens up a whole new world for people in terms of support networks, socialising, entertainment, professional development and so on. It provides a whole range of possibilites and opportunites and give you access to SO much information. This is a fantastic thing as long as you’ve got your ‘who wrote this’ hat on. If you are conscious about your online privacy and safety, think a little bit about what you’re posting and don’t take it too seriously – you can have a really useful and meaningful social media experience.

I’ll admit it, I think I might be a teeny weeny little bit addicted to social media. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Here’s why:

  • I’m part of the 16% who use Facebook/ Twitter as my morning news courier. But I also use the BBC, Guardian and Metro news apps and all of the others that I’ve liked and followed. This helps to me get a broad view of some of the crazy stuff that’s going on in the world. I don’t think you should rely solely on social media for your daily news dosage, especially on April Fool’s Daybut it’s useful to have news on your social media feeds. Plus I wouldn’t say no to some of the Metro “news” articles posted on their Facebook page, they are hilarious! It’s good to get your news from a variety of sources and I try not to trust everything I read on the news anyway. I don’t take part in the debates that happen online about the news either, but I do like to read them because it gives me a good idea of people’s differing opinions and ideas (and it’s fun).
  • I do spend a lot of time on social media, probably more than 2 hours a day… I mainly use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn and I think it helps me to become a more knowledgeable, interesting person – hopefully… I find out a lot of stuff that I didn’t know before and you can learn more about your specific interests by following the right groups, people and pages – essentially the information comes to you. If all else fails, it certainly helps break the ice when you can talk about that hilarious viral video that’s doing the rounds… and if they haven’t seen it, you can show them! Everyone loves a bit of ninja cat right?   
  • My social media accounts serve as a gentle reminder of all the things I’ve done since I’ve had them. Timehop is a great app which shows me my photos and updates from this exact day in history. Because I’ve shared something that I’ve done with the world, it’s out there like a little cyberspace scrapbook, reminding myself and others that are interested that I do cool things sometimes. My blog is especially useful as I can use it to reflect on the stuff I am doing at work and share it with others.
  • My family and friends follow me. It means we don’t have to see each other everyday… (This is a joke – if they read my blog they can tell me off). Seriously though, life can get busy at times and it’s a shame that you can’t always spend as much time with loved ones as you’d like. But with Facebook I can at least keep up to date with what my family and friends are up to and my mum can keep track of me.

  • You can use social media for work stuff as well, who’d of thought it?! This is actually one of the reasons I end up spending so much time on Facebook and Twitter. Before I started my graduate traineeship I never knew librarians loved it so much. There is a huge community of them out there willing to share their expertise and knowledge and the best way to speak to them is via online networks. You can get involved in Twitter conversations such as #uklibchat and there are many Facebook groups and Twitter lists that are dedicated to discussing issues within libraries and sharing ideas. I’ve just joined the Libraries & Social Media Facebook group and there is always something interesting on there to read. I am planning on asking them about my grad trainee project which I am doing on social media in the academic library (will blog about this soon). I am going on a tour of Chetham’s Library which has been organised by the New Library Professionals Network. I signed up for the event on NLPN’s Facebook page and if I hadn’t of been on Facebook/ Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have even known about it. This is the case for pretty much every library event I’ve been to actually. I always find out about them on social media before I get chance to read about it in an email. I personally use social media for professional development and for fun simultaneously. I don’t really feel the need to seperate the two because my work is a huge part of who I am… and that’s enough cheese for one day.

Thanks to @rudai23 I am currently undertaking a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment. http://rudai23.blogspot.co.uk/

Check out these crazy stats from GO-Globe.

Social Media Addiction

Scary huh?

Infographic by- GO Globe Singapore

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Thing No 3: My LinkedIn Experience & Professional Brand

Thing No 3 has also come at a great time for me – Rudai 23, you’re doing great things for my continuing professional development in general actually. Thank you! I have recently been updating my LinkedIn as my graduate traineeship is ending soon so I will once again on the job market.

In this post I am going to share my experiences, thoughts and tips on using LinkedIn, the career/ business focused social networking and online CV site. Many people have probably heard of LinkedIn, many of you may already use it or have used it/ attempted to use it at some point in the past.

A few things LinkedIn can do for you:

  1. Build a professional network of colleagues, academics and industry insiders
  2. Get involved in professional discussions and keep in the loop
  3. Create your professional brand which will advertise your best self – Google and LinkedIn like each a lot so if some Googles you, your name could be there
  4. Have a dynamic online CV which showcases your achievements – upload images, files, presentations, awards etc

Is it worth the time and effort I hear you ask? I am not going to sugar-coat it; creating a LinkedIn profile does take a lot of time and effort. I spent upwards of 2 hours a few nights ago working on my profile but I felt a lot better for doing it. It is worth the effort for two reasons. Firstly, potential employers or colleagues could see your profile so it’s an easy way to make a good first impression, secondly, it’s an up to date summary of your experiences and achievements to date. I use my LinkedIn account to remind myself of all of the things I’ve done and achieved both in the work place and at college and University (I forget otherwise oops).

As the 23 things team have demonstrated, to convey your professional brand there are a few key points to consider. The most important ones for me are:

  1. IMAGE – How do you want people to see you? I’ve chopped and changed my profile picture so many times it’s bordering on obsessive. I don’t recommend you do that. Choose a nice head and shoulders shot, dressed for work maybe and show off your professional side. Think… If you had to send a potential employer an image of yourself it’s not going to be a selfie from 20 years ago. You want to make a good impression. I had my picture taken at the Universiity careers fair where they had a LinkedIn photobooth offering a free professional photo service for staff and students to use on their online CVs etc.
  2. HEADLINE – Make sure to use the professional headline carefully as this summarises your professional brand. Right now I am using my job title as it best summarises my current position but come September when I go back to university this will be different. Use it you reflect your career at present and your future goals.
linked_in_headline_

My LinkedIn headline at the moment and my professional photo. You may be able to see my “expert” editing where I’ve attempted to hide the flyway hair I had going on.

3. SUMMARY – I received advice from a LinkedIn workshop and this was to make sure you fill in all fields but especially the summary field. This is your bio where you will quickly convey your professional brand and what you’re all about to anyone looking at your page.

Tip: Complete the write up of your job descriptions/ summaries etc in Microsoft Word or something similar. This will highlight any spelling mistakes for make, whereas if you enter it straight into the field on LinkedIn, you’ll never know you spelt something wrong, but others certainly will!

There is a lot of information out there which can help you build a good online CV. At the University of Bradford we’re lucky to have a Career Development Adviser who put on a really useful workshop on how to use LinkedIn, so if you can get to anything like that it would be very useful.

One thing that I keep wondering about LinkedIn; can you have too much text and information? How breif or detailed should the summaries and descriptions be? What do you think?

*** If you think any of the advice I’ve given is terrible or could be improved please leave me a comment and let me know. Also if you think something I am doing on my profile is rubbish or could be improved, give me a nudge.***

***Thank you!***

Rudai 23: Thing No 2

I am entering the final months of my graduate traineeship. Only two and a half months left to go and I can confirm that I still want to be a librarian, yipee! The 23 Things Collaboration has come at a good time. I am going to have a think about why I want to be a librarian and what I think librarianship is all about having experienced it first hand as a trainee.

There is the age old stereotype that librarians spend their days stamping books and shushing people which still stands firm today. If you could stop someone on the street and ask them what a librarian does, chances are their response will be something along those lines. Most people I speak to are surprised to learn that you need a postgraduate qualification to be a librarian… I’d like to see them have a go 🙂 

Being a librarian is about genuinely wanting to help people to learn for themselves, getting people to appreciate the value of information and knowledge and helping people to enrich and develop their own lives and society. As more and more people have access to the internet, information professionals become more important. People really do need help because even though many people think they are internet searching experts, chances are they aren’t.

I want to be a librarian because I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave the world of learning behind. I loved the library when I was a student, I enjoyed working in there and feeling like you’re part of a student community. Being involved with people who are trying to educate themselves sounds like a benefical and rewarding job to me.

I can also carry on with my own learning and development; how can you not when you are surrounded by so much information! Librarians have to continually learn and develop their skills and this is great because I never want to give up learning. A large part of being a librarian involves sharing best practices, developing professionally and being conscious of the ever changing world of information and technology. I want to be a little fountain of knowledge. Or at least know where to go to gather and spread some of that knowledge.

I wish I could say that I wanted to be a librarian since I was little but that’s not the case. I vaguely remember wanting to be a vet, an actress and a chef at some point but in all honesty I didn’t decide until after I graduated, and this was probably for the best, I’d be the worst actress ever. I had toyed with the idea of being a history teacher because it seemed like a more or less straightforward career move as a history graduate.

I also considered continuing my studies, possibly doing a History MA and being an academic but I hadn’t found my “thing”. To undertake the amount of research required to complete a PhD, I think you really have to be passionate about a topic and until I find that topic, I can’t even consider it. So that career path was out of the window.

I also considered being an archivist. I had an idealistic idea that I would be caring for old, crispy documents, rare books and never before seen treasures all day. I understood there was more to it than that and that but I needed to get some experience if I wanted to enter the profession.

I joined the Archives and Records Association and bagged myself a work placement in the University working on an oral history project. I worked in the Cinema and Television History Centre at De Montfort University on a project which involved transcribing interviews undertaken with women working in the TV and film industry during the 20th century to the present day. I started looking into MA courses and voluntary positions for when I graduated so I could get the work experience required for many of the courses. I got a position in my local library digitising photographic slides which the library had inherited from various council planning departments.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue with the work for very long as I had to get a full time job. So I joined the hoard of graduates working in the first position they are offered in order to pay the bills. I spent a year working in a local pub which was good, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned as an optimistic and enthusiastic graduate leaving university with my shiny new degree.

I was continually looking for graduate positions in which I could develop a career – any career. I thought I had struck gold when I got a “graduate” job at a car finance company where I worked as a customer service advisor. In all honesty I didn’t enjoy the work but I did excel in the position and was offered the opportunity to progress onto a different position within the company. My interview was looming when I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do as it just didn’t make me happy. I handed in my notice which was a crazy move considering I did not have a job to go to.

I had however applied for a position at the University of Bradford as a graduate trainee library assistant. When I first saw the opening I had the moment that all job seekers hope for… the moment you find a job that you know you would enjoy. I would love to be a librarian and thankfully this graduate traineeship has confirmed that I do want to be a librarian. After doing jobs which I didn’t enjoy, this really is the dream job.

It’s a cliché but I am a people person. Having dealt with customers since the age of 15 I don’t think I could ever work in an environment that wasn’t in some way customer/ user focused. It’s great to help people. Not serving them food and drinks or selling them car finance but giving them the ability to learn for themselves and find the information that librarians have worked hard to purchase and organise.

I wasn’t aware of the world of librarian networking, conferences and the variety of opportunities that are out there. I knew librarians didn’t just look after books but I hadn’t considered the variety of positions on offer to librarians; information officers, public librarians, knowledge officers, academic librarians, acquisitions librarians, e-resources librarians, NHS librarians, law librarians, corporate librarians, special collections librarians, embedded librarians, library managers, library directors, library systems librarians and so on.

From my course I am expecting to learn more unexpected and exciting things about the profession. I am hoping to develop a special interest in a particular area which I will be able to research in great depth and write about. It would be amazing to get an article published in a journal one day! I am interested in working in an academic library after I graduate. However, I am hoping to get more experience in different areas of the profession so who knows; I am willing to explore the world of librarianship.