This article by Lisa Okikawa, appears in the Summer 2015 issue of the CTEBVI Journal. Become a member of CTEBVI for immediate access to more articles like this and others related to the BVI field. For archived journals, visit: www.ctebvi.org.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, vlog…what does it all mean? In the last two years, CTEBVI has jumped onto the social media train that has been barreling down the information superhighway. Though the mere idea of social media can cause newbies or current-non users to shudder in fear, it really is user-friendly for all. Social media isn’t just something that the “young kids” are doing; nearly every major company has social media departments now to handle social media outreach. This article will help break down what social media is for you in a new series of painless articles.
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA AND MORE IMPORTANTLY…WHY?
Social media is defined by Wikipedia as: “…computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. ” With so many people glued to their smartphones and tablets these days, what makes social media so great, is that it’s an instant connection to the people and organizations that mean the most to you! Say you are sitting in your local coffeeshop and hear something about a new store or restaurant that piques your interest and you want to learn more…now! (i.,e., What does that new restaurant down the street that just opened serve?) What do most people do? They Google (or do an internet search) for it. The results will come up with a billion pages of information, but most importantly the top three or four links will likely include links to a website, Facebook and Twitter. These links are important because it allows seekers to know that:
A.) what they are seeking is legitimate proven by an official website which will share information about the person, place or thing.
B.) they have some kind of a following of people who want updates about this person/organization (Facebook)
C.) people are not only aware of this person/organization, but they are talking about it (Twitter).
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS CTEBVI
CTEBVI wants to remain current and reach as many people as possible about our organization so we set up accounts to connect with those interested parties. I know there are more social media options out there than any of us can keep track of. In subsequent journals, we will focus on the in’s-and-out’s of each social media site. The following list includes our sites and the basics like how you can find them, how to connect with them and what you’ll find when you go there:
A website is a collection of pages that includes information, images, videos about a particular topic that are accessed via the internet. CTEBVI’s website includes information about our organization, membership, our annual conference, scholarships, our blog, back-issues of the journal and more. Check it out!
One of the major social network sites that we post news or CTEBVI updates related to the blindness community to reach as many people as we have Facebook followers. If you are a Facebook user, locate our page by typing “CTEBVI” into the search box or click on the above link and click on the thumbs up icon to “like” us. When you do this, you will begin to receive any updates we post in your feed (your feed is a listing of the updates or photos posted by your friends or any pages you “liked”). We are proud of our organization and encourage users to comment, like or share our posts with your network of Facebook friends.
Twitter is another of the major social networking sites. The act of posting a message is called a “tweet” and these concise messages inform our followers about our organization or stories that relate to the blindness community. So what are the major differences between Twitter and Facebook in a nutshell, you ask? Essentially they both have the potential to share similar kinds of information, but think of Twitter as sharing immediate, breaking-news while Facebook is more of a read-it-when-you-want-it/ information on demand site.
A blog is an interactive website consisting of articles (or posts) written by a person or organization about a particular topic. Blogs are typically informal and encourage it’s readers to comment their thoughts or opinions at the bottom of each entry. Our blog features posts most frequently by our current Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship recipient, but also includes information related to parents, educators, transcribers, students and Unified English Braille (UEB).
YouTube is a video-sharing website. Users can record and share original videos of various content topics including information-based tutorials, original music sharing, vlogs (video blog), webseries (the equivalent of a television series that is streamed or distributed on this website). CTEBVI uploads vlogs to YouTube that appears on our Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship recipient’s blog.
Instagram is a social media photo and video sharing site. Users can take photos or 15-second-videos that they can share with people who follow their accounts. CTEBVI typically shares photos or video associated with conference or the blog postings from our Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship recipient.
Now that you know what you’re dealing with, the concepts are hopefully a little less daunting. This article is meant to be an overview of the social media sites that are used by CTEBVI. Subsequent journal articles will go more in-depth with each of the social media sites so you can learn how to join, what the lingo means for each site and how to optimize using the site for you.