“Be more strategic in how you use social media”

Sreenath Sreenivasan — Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

Sreenath Sreenivasan — Photo: S.R. Raghunathan  

“Be more strategic in how you use social media,” Sreenath Sreenivasan, digital media professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism, told an audience, largely comprising of students from different city colleges, here on Friday.

Speaking on ‘Social Media Trends' at the US Consulate, he said he had discovered that it was his mission to take the fun out of social media for the youngsters. The scarcest resource of the 21 {+s} {+t} century was going to be human attention; and it was possible to use digital media to get that attention. “Try new things, have an open mind, and maintain a high level of scepticism,” Prof. Sreenivasan said.

If there is a new social media site or application, he told students, figure out if it fits with your life flow and work flow. “I myself am an early tester, late adopter. If it fits in, you can pick it up,” he added. Social media itself does not solve issues, Prof. Sreenivasan clarified.

In the recent uprisings in Libya and Egypt, where social media was touted to have played an important role, he said, “At its best, social media amplifies the work you do. On its own, it does not solve problems.” In Egypt, it was because men who were ready to fight on the streets used Twitter, that they were able to harness the potential of the media. “To be successful, you need a combination of the old and the new,” he said.

Social media also plays a huge role in public diplomacy, but again, it allows you to get people's attention, but it cannot go further without good practices actually fuelling it. Its impact on business has been largely under utilised with businesses letting their customers lead them to new media tools, when in fact, they should be taking their customers ahead.

Answering a query on the question of trust and reliability when it comes to social media, versus conventional media, he said systems of trust have been built over using phones and emails to get stories. Social media itself is filled with opportunities, but also problems. It is necessary to double check and verify what is being said on it, he cautioned.

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