Social Media: A Primer for Public Media

March 23, 2011 by Jennifer MacArthur under Online Engagement, Social Media

By now you probably have seen countless articles on the web touting the X Number of Most Important Social Media Marketing Sites, or some variation thereof. Maybe you even have eagerly perused some of the takeaways from the recent iMA Conference that led into this year’s SXSW Interactive Festival. But if you’re anything like the average person, it’s all you can do to keep up with Facebook and the seemingly endless profile and privacy changes it periodically institutes for its users.

Mastering the latest online trend or social media tool can be a lot of work, particularly when new ones seem to pop up every other week. Without understanding the utility of these tools and what they actually do, you could spend a lot of time using social media with little result.

As Internet access has moved from a stationery experience to a mobile one, social media activities have kept pace. Social networking, blogging and video or photo sharing have been around for over a decade, while the rise of location-based social networking and micro-blogging has coincided with the development of smart phones and tablet computers. However, improvements in wireless connectivity and operating systems coupled with the explosion of mobile apps have blurred the lines between home-based and on-the-go web experiences.

Social media users are nowadays just as likely to download pictures from a camera to their desktop computer and then upload onto Flickr (fixed web), as they are to take a photo on a smart phone and post it to Facebook using an app (mobile web). That being said, understanding the – albeit short – history of social media user activity on the fixed vs. mobile web can be key to developing a more nuanced and targeted approach to different demographic groups with your online engagement efforts.

So NCME throws its hat into the ring: over the coming weeks this blog will explore “The 5 Most Important Social Media Activities for Public Media.” We will focus on five core activities that every station should learn to better engage online with their communities. And we will feature a selection of sites and apps you can use to master these activities. My colleague Bryce Kirchoff leads us off with a look at location-based social networking: Why PBS on Gowalla Matters.

When we complete the series we invite you to take our Social Media Challenge! How it works: share your stories of success using social media and we’ll feature the best station examples of online engagement right here on this blog. Blog readers can cast their vote for the best online engagement campaigns and NCME will feature your top three choices in our Social Media Challenge webinar this summer.