Age of social media explained

Some say we’re in the “Attention Age,” characterized by a distracting bombardment of information, primarily on the Internet, disseminated by social media.

North Shelby Library hosted the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce on May 4, for a social media seminar.

Presenters were Jay Carr of Birmingham Kids Directory and Casey Morris of Ekklesia Coffee House in Chelsea. More than 20 business people attended, one who said, “Twitter seems to be what everybody’s doing. I’m here to learn how.”

“Social media” is a term used to describe online information-sharing and conversation websites. Unlike in traditional media like newspapers and television, social media depends on user interaction.

On social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, users share words, sound, video and photos, which can have cultural, social or even financial value.

Social media promotes “democracy” of knowledge and information, transforming people from content users to content producers, and it’s now appealing to businesses.

“Social media is the fastest-growing media type,” Carr said. He listed several ways it grows a business: building trust, enabling conversation with consumers and hearing what is being said in the community.

Carr discussed the specifics of microblogging on Twitter, a social media site that started in 2006. Twitter is a personal channel creating communication to the world. Its main attraction for a business is to defuse rumors or direct attacks.

Then Carr flashed a slide on the screen titled, “Comcast Technician Asleep on My Couch.” This photo was posted by a Comcast customer on YouTube four years ago,” he said. “And has had almost a million and a half hits.”

As a result, Comcast CEO posted his own consumer ad in defense.

“Today’s consumers want to be in the know, get coupon discounts, access to exclusive information,” Carr said. “There are currently 105 million Twitter users around the globe. Nothing is private. If you want a one-on-one conversation, pick up the phone.”

When someone tweets, meaning posting a comment, millions can read it.

Carr gave business rules for all social media, including Facebook, which seem like good etiquette for any conversation:

-Don’t show off

-Use good grammar

-Don’t get personal

-Respond quickly

-Too much “tweeting” or posting turns folks off

-Listen

-If you want to join the millions on Twitter or Facebook, see Twitter.com or Facebook.com to sign up.

Currently, Facebook is free, but beware. Your personal information is collected, used to profile you, and can be sold. Also, hackers and viruses abound in this new cyberspace.

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at gsherrer@hotmail.com.