Social media seem to be everywhere these days, and it’s not just kids in skinny jeans and hoodies typing madly on their smartphones. For instance, almost three-quarters of foundation leaders surveyed by the Foundation Center in 2010 thought that social media were useful in furthering philanthropic work in general, and half thought social media were useful in furthering the work of their own foundation.
Social media can advance the work of youth-service professionals in many ways. It’s a great way to engage young people who have grown up with mobile phones and the Internet, and may find them more natural sources of information and communication than landlines or newsprint.
It’s a good tool to foster community building, because social media use is increasingly common among people of all ages. It’s an efficient way for professionals to connect with others working in their field and to facilitate collaborations among people located all over the world. Finally, social media plays an increasingly important role in the employment and professional communications processes, so it’s worth knowing how to use social media skillfully.
The key aspect of social media is that users are actively engaged with the media, creating new content rather than simply being passive recipients. Using social media is part of what’s often referred to as “Web 2.0.” If Web 1.0 is reading information online, Web 2.0 is creating your own blog, joining an online community, posting a video on YouTube, or tweeting your news to the world.
Although the name “social media” may imply recreational use, this tool is not just about leisure activities: Social media played such an important role in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that some have dubbed it the “Twitter Revolution,” and social media has played a key role in the Occupy Wall Street movement, among others.
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