The first thing I ever used in social media was uboot.com, a sort of weird German forum site. A friend recommended it while I was looking for information on the Cottingley Fairies. While uboot didn't really do it for me, it did give me an introduction to what was out there. Then, like many of my peers, I entered Friends Reunited. To be honest, I mainly joined for the voyeuristic thrill of seeing what had happened to the people I went to school with. I also used the power of crowdsourcing on Sheffield Forum to locate my biological dad - it worked but long story, rubbish ending - not for here.
Then I left social media for a while. I didn't touch Bebo or Myspace - I had a brief flirtation with Faceparty but was a latecomer to Facebook and when I initially signed up it was for groups like 'I'd like to sing Phantom of the Opera from the rooftops' and 'I used to secretly like Aramis from Dogtanien' (it was the poetry and red wine that did it - methinks!).
So far, so unprofessional...
Then reader, it all changed. I volunteered to become the Liaison Officer for the CILIP Special Interest Group Colleges of Further and Higher Education London and South East Committee (CoFHE LASEC) now Academic and Research Libraries Group London and South East Committee (ARLG LASEC). They used Twitter to promote and engage with their members. I joined Twitter so I could retweet and post about events. And then I was hooked. Initially, I was a lurker. I read all sorts of things about Higher Education, Higher Education in Further Education, libraries in general and saw lots of pictures of cute cats. Through Twitter I discovered CPD23 which I found very beneficial and would recommend to any librarian, especially those who find it difficult to attend training. Through CPD23 I was encouraged to create a blog and discovered the library blogosphere - it's huge! I generally use my blog for reflection and for writing up events. I really appreciate it when others do this and hope that I can help in the same way.
I found out about Library Camp through Twitter - this was an extraordinary event. I then decided to broaden my horizons and sort out my LinkedIn account. Through connecting with an old UCL classmate I found out about the London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) and have gained such a wider knowledge of the information profession by attending their events. They are putting on an inaugural conference on 29th June and I've been privileged enough to help out. I've helped to organise smaller events in the past but I've never been involved in anything on a scale like this and it's going to be amazing.
However, so far this was enhancing my professional status and not necessarily my working life so I pestered for what seemed like forever to be able to set up a Twitter account and policy in my workplace (Facebook wasn't allowed due to filtering and occasionally Twitter was filtered too which sometimes made updating a tad tricky). It wasn't particularly ground breaking and only had a few followers but it was a start and I hope to do improve on this in my current post. So far I am going to be involved in training and implementing the social media policies.
I have learned so much through using social media and it has undoubtedly helped my professional life. One of the nicest things about it is the sense of community and the feeling of being part of the 'conversation'. I am looking forward to the rest of my journey.
More information on the LIKE Conference.
More blogs about using social media.