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All aboard the ‘social media train’

I’m constantly amazed at some people’s response to social media. It’s a closed door. “I don’t get Twitter” is a common one.  “I don’t have time”, is another. And look, I understand the surreal qualities of cyber connecting, for sure, but if you don’t jump on it will pass you by. You will be that traditionalist clinging desperately to the limp and fading specialness of being the one who rejected the platforms, a bit like those who initially rejected computers in their lives, or online shopping.

Where are they now? Fading into obscurity with their tails between their legs, that’s where. The mantra of stubborn refusal they once boasted of tattoos them as somewhat foolish.

Even if you’re not in business, if you’re a parent, the need to speak this language and provide adequate supervised screening and advice is vital. And if they think today’s major players (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) are all there’s going to be, wrong again. The next wave of social media phenomenon is already charging full steam ahead. If the stats are anything to go by, social media is not only here to stay, it’s going to remain a huge part of our lives.

Statistics released by comScore (a leader in measuring the digital world) in February 2011 show that social networking now accounts for 1 in every 5 minutes spent online in Australia. Here are three statistics that will make the traditionalists sit up and listen.

  1. Social Networking now accounts for the largest amount of total time spent online at 22 percent, an increase of 5.3 percentage points from the previous year.
  2. 3 out of 4 online users in Australia watched online video in December 2010, with an average viewer watching more than 7 hours of video during the month.
  3. More than half of all web users in Australia visited YouTube in the course of the month. When they do visit, they stay on the site for a substantial amount of time: 138 minutes.

Pretty startling, hey?

The report also highlights what the next big thing is and where you should be focusing your time now. If you’ve got a handle on Facebook and Twitter, you need to be looking into image sharing because that’s where it’s at. Last year there was a rise of 39% in Australia in this category as photo sites grew rapidly, spurred on by social networking, cheap digital cameras and camera-equipped cell phones.  Whilst Facebook is the most popular site in this category, check out Photobucket.com, Flickr, ImageShack and a couple of smaller ones I’ve stumbled across that I personally like, Pinterest and Svpply.com.

The internet is developing at such an incredibly rapid rate none of us can afford to be caught napping. At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged person trying to keep up with the young’uns, next time you’re online, explore a little, and you never know. You might just like what you find, or at least see the potential in it.

Janet E. Leach is an entrepreneur and owner/director of Artery Store.

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