What the heck is Social Media? And why is everyone talking about it? (Posted on March 15, 2011)

Social Media is the latest buzzword. You hear it at work, you hear on the web, you even hear about it on the daily news. What the heck do they mean when they say Social media? Social Media is basically a blending of technology and social interaction. It is a powerful tool on the internet to get information quickly to the public with potential for wide distribution simply because it is driven by you – the consumer. The type of information that can be disseminated through Social Media is almost limitless. In a study conducted by the PEW Research Center in 2009, they found that 73% of teens that use the internet are now using social networking sites (1). They also found that 47% of online adults ages 18-50 (2), 47% of online adults ages 50-64, and 26% of online adults ages 65 and older are now using Social media (3). These numbers are growing rapidly as more people learn about these tools. As more and more people are using Social Media in their daily lives, projects and agencies are feeling the pressure to keep up with this new trend. It has become evident that we should make use of Social Media tools to get out our tobacco control messages to our communities, the state, the nation, and even the world.

For anyone who hasn’t gotten their feet wet using any type of Social Media, the idea of using it can seem a little overwhelming. It can seem overwhelming in particular because there are so many different forms of Social Media. Just to name a few, there are blogs (like this one you are reading), social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), professional networks (LinkedIn), and even Wikis(Wikipedia). Even for people who are currently using Social Media, making the best use of Social Media tools to meet your project goals and objectives can also seem like a challenge. The most common forms of Social Media and what many organizations and agencies are using more often are Social Media tools such as, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

In response to questions taken during TEAM Lab’s communication webinars last year and input from our 2010 Needs Assessment, it was quite clear that a Social Media webinar would be helpful. The webinar introduced Social Media venues that are low cost, efficient, and extremely powerful. They can be used to raise awareness on a variety of issues or activities, gain support for tobacco control efforts, and to disseminate tobacco education messages to a large audience.

In addition, TEAM Lab is very excited about our collaboration with the California Youth Advocacy Network (CYAN). Together we will host the next webinar “The Power of Social Media: Using New Technologies to promote your tobacco control message” on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Please join us for this informative and innovative discussion. Our guest speaker, CYAN’s Outreach Coordinator, Amelia Silbert-Geiger, will be discussing how Social Media can be used within your project or agency to disseminate tobacco education messages. CYAN (CYAN website) has developed an interactive platform for communicating and distributing information using Social Media.

We would also like to invite you to take a pre-training Social Media Assessment. This survey will provide us with useful information that will help us to ensure that we provide you with the information you want to know about Social Media. HURRY!!!! The survey will close on March 18, 2011, so please complete as soon as possible!

Click here to take the Social Media Assessment.

REGISTER for the webinar

(1) http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults/Part-3/1-Teens-and-online-social-networks.aspx?r=1
(2) http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults/Part-3/2-Adults-and-social-networks.aspx
(3) http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1711/older-adults-social-networking-facebook-twitter