Sunday, January 23, 2011

We Like Social Media

I've seen a growing trend of acceptance of social media in 2010 to the point of 2011 being a "Surge year".

I'm sure that the movie The Social Network, which focused on Facebook, helped push social media into the mainstream, but I guess I've been an early adopter, as it was 2004, before Facebook that I launched my first blog.

If you are just getting involved with or are curious about Social Media, I invite you to take part in ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure, a website I launched a few weeks ago due to numerous requests to share what I've done and how others can learn from my expreiences. It is updated at noon, Monday thru Friday, and this week, I'm focusing on creating blogs. Click here to go there.

You can even get updates in your email, all free of course. Links are on the left side of the ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure site.

Yesterday, I was reading this piece from regarding Americans and Social Media:

Social media has opened the door, or more accurately, many doors, to increasingly numerous ways for people to interact with others, customize their online experiences and receive positive, enriching benefits from their activity therein. The Harris Poll found that a majority of American adults are using social media and, while there are concerns about privacy, most have gotten something beneficial from using social media.

Two in five Americans say that they have received a good suggestion for something to try as a result of their use of social media (40%), 15% say they have made a connection regarding a job opportunity, and one in ten say they have found a new apartment or house through their social media use (9%).

While a majority of U.S. adults are using social media (65%), and a similar number say they have received a positive benefit from its use, adoption is not consistent across the board. Rather, younger Americans claim positive benefits as a result of their social media use much more often than do older adults. For example, a majority of Echo Boomers (those 18-33) say they have received a positive suggestion for something to try from their activity on social media (59%), compared to 44% of Gen Xers (those 34-45), one third of Baby Boomers (those 46-64) (34%), and just one in five Matures (those 65 and older) (19%). Similarly, one quarter of Echo Boomers have found a job opportunity through social media (24%), while only one in ten Baby Boomers say the same (11%).

Despite all of the benefits people are receiving from their social media use, similar numbers say they have suffered negative consequences from this activity, such as the two in five social media users who say they have been offended by posts, comments or pictures they've seen (43%) and the quarter who say that unintended persons have viewed links or comments they've posted (26%). Fewer social media users say they have suffered the more serious consequences of getting in trouble with school or work, or losing a potential job opportunity because of comments or pictures they posted online (7% for both). Despite younger Americans receiving benefits from social media use more often than older adults, younger Americans also suffer the consequences of social media use at a greater rate. This may, in part, be due to younger Americans greater use of social media overall, which could expose them to both the benefits and consequences of what's currently available.

As more people use social media and the services continue to expand, the potential benefits of use grow, as do the possible consequences. As a result, social media networks are increasingly offering privacy settings to combat the negative experiences some users have already experienced, and to prevent others from taking place. When social media users were asked if potentially negative experiences can be prevented through the use of these privacy settings, over three quarters agreed that they can be (78%) with three in ten strongly agreeing (28%). In addition, 71% of social media users are confident that their own privacy settings operate in the way they intend, but only one in five say they are very confident (18%). While a quarter of social media users are not confident in their privacy settings (25%), it seems that almost all social media users are at least trying to use these options for security assurance—only 5% of social media users say they do not use any privacy settings at all. Similarly to the other areas of social media explored, younger adults who use social media feel more strongly both that privacy settings can prevent negative consequences (82% of Echo Boomers say this, compared to 70% of Matures) and that they are confident in their own privacy settings (78% of Echo Boomers, compared to 61% of Baby Boomers).

Social media services have brought both good and bad for users. However, newly introduced privacy settings are now helping to prevent potential harm associated with social media use. As social media users become more adept at understanding the nuances of how things work online and these privacy controls, hopefully they will become even more successful at managing their experiences, to the point where the positive benefits eclipse the negative consequences, and users can take more advantage of what's offered online with little concern for potential dangers. But, at the same time, there is also a possibility that as more people use social media, and do so casually, that they will become less careful with their settings and the 7% who have suffered more serious consequences will grow. It's up to each and every user, The Harris Poll noted.

This Harris Poll on social media was conducted online within the United States between December 6 to 13, 2010 among 2,331 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

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