What we use

For one of my journalism classes we were given the task to find out how are peers were using social media networking sites.  It was given as an assignment to… one get us out talking to people and two to give us a better understanding of why social networking is growing in importance.

After spending 20 minutes walking around the podium at U-Albany freezing my ass off I determined three main things about students and social media networking:

  1. Almost everyone is on Facebook and it is used to keep in touch with friends.
  2. MySpace is the best place to find new music.
  3. People either love, hate, or don’t care about Twitter.

As someone who uses all three, these facts are not new to me, but what I really wanted to find were the people who were using these tools to branch outside the bubbles of their personal existence.

It was cold, no one was willing to freeze for an interview, and I wanted something good.  So what did I do…  I posted my questions on Facebook and Twitter to put social media networking to the test.  As I had imagined  I got a response almost instantly from Facebook and have yet to receive a response from my tweet (this may have to do with the fact that I only have 19 followers).

Under my post was a comment asking if I wanted an interview from none other than the Interactive Media Manager for the ASP, Patrick Dodson.

Going against my traditional journalistic instincts I decided what better way to do the interview than via Facebook itself, demonstrating just another one of the unique qualities of social media networking.

“It’s an easy and free way to reach a huge audience,” Dodson wrote.  “It has tripled the amount of web traffic to the ASP site just through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.”

Over the past year the ASP has been diving head first into the world of social media networking, allowing them to branch out to unheard of avenues.

“We search for anything related to us and add them.  In turn they add us and see our updates.  We now have around 1,080 followers on Twitter, which is more than Governor Patterson last I checked.”

Talking amongst colleagues during my internship at the Times Union it is apparent how important it is for new reporters to be aware of what social media networking can do for them.  They are a virtual bank of sources that can be tapped into as easy as posting a question to your blog.  Also from talking with them something else seems to go hand and hand with this new networking: multimedia skills.

People don’t just want to read their news they want to hear and see it, they want to be engulfed by the story.  These social media networking sites are places were interaction with the user is key to the overall experience of information gathering.

Charlie Velazquez, a 21-year-old senior English major from U-Albany who also participated in a Facebook interview, needs his news to completely engage his senses and sees social media networking as a good way to express himself.

“I use Twitter for when I observe things in public I find funny.  It is good for when I’m bored, pretty much every time something really funny happens I tweet it, like when someone does something embarrassing,” Velazquez said.

However, like most of his peers Velazquez has not fully grasped the full potential of social media networking.  I’m sure that over time this will change, as more people become aware of the potential these spaces provide, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

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