“Social media is the next revolution in the printing industry and business in general.” So read a recent discussion post for the Quick Printing group on LinkedIn.
Is the social media phenomenon really a revolution? Some are convinced that it is. Others think it is something that is evolving. In any case, the rise of social media is making its mark on the printing industry. In fact, Printing Industries of America recently released “Social Media Field Guide – A Resource for Graphic Communicators.”
For quite some time, QP has addressed the issue of social media use by printers in the columns of John Giles and Tawnya Starr. They have been providing both practical advice and reasoned advocacy for those printers who are entering or considering the world of social media.
The authors of the “Field Guide” seem to think the term “social media” is somewhat of a misnomer. They prefer the term “social networking”. Their reasoning is that media refers to a means of communication and is a noun whereas networking is a verb “and is the interaction between people to exchange information and develop contacts.” That said, they give in to the inevitable and use the term social media throughout the book.
The most often cited players in the social media space are Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but there are many others. At the time the Field Guide was published, by far the largest of the players was Facebook with 500 million users. Some others were MySpace (130 million), hi5 (80 million), Twitter (75 million) LinkedIn (75 million), Plaxo (50 million), BeBo (50 million), YouTube (48 million), and Flicker (32 million). Of these, LinkedIn and Plaxo have a decidedly business focus while Facebook has both a personal and a business focus.
Since the Field Guide was published, some of these entities have grown quickly and considerably. For instance Twitter now has an estimated 145 million users.
According to the Field Guide, the world of social media can be roughly divided into six categories: Social networking (Facebook, hi5, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzz, Friendster, MySpace); Sharing/collaborating (Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Newsvine, FriendFeed); Image/video/presentation sharing (YouTube, Hulu, SlideShare, Flicker, Fotolog, SmugMug, Zoomr, Webshots); Microblogging (Twitter, Plurk, Yammer, Tumblr, StatusNet); Blogging (WordPress, TypePad, Movable Type); and Location based/social mapping (Yelp, Foursquare, Loopt, Gowalla, Brightkite).
Despite the various specialties and emphases of the above players, there is one overriding caution when using any of them. Never put anything on any place on the Internet that you wouldn’t want your boss, your spouse, a client, a potential client, or anyone else to read. The Internet is forever and is eminently searchable.
A recent New York Times article reviewed software called Social Sentry, which automatically monitors Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and LinkedIn to let companies to keep tabs on their employees’ social networking. “Automating the process makes it more likely that monitoring will become commonplace, say both those who approve and those who disapprove.” Social Sentry is only one of many Internet monitoring options available.
Another rule of etiquette is remarkably simple but very often ignored. Never post anything when you are overly-tired, upset, angry, or intoxicated. Yes, people do use social media when drunk. The upshot may not be as serious as getting caught driving while drunk, but posting while drunk can have some pretty significant consequences. Just for fun, check out www.socialmediasobrietytest.com. It is a service that allows you to set parameters for your social media use and blocks you from logging on if you can’t pass a simple sobriety test. I’m sure there are lots of people who wish their social media keys had been taken away so they wouldn’t have been able to post something stupid.