The use of social media has increased significantly since the OCLC Report was published in 2007. The report is valuable for information professionals who seek to analyse the development of social networking websites such as Facebook and the social web because it provides an early snapshot of social networking vs media use. In 2007 only 40%, 14% and 2% of respondents in the 14-21, 22- 49 and over 60 age groups respectively used Facebook. These figures have grown enormously due to the transition of the younger age groups and the continued popularity of Facebook among young users. The report’s figures also suggest that most people – 66%, use Facebook because their friends use the same site while the number of people seeking to develop new relationship or meet people is significantly less – 37% (De Rosa, 2007).
Recent research that investigates the use of social networking websites has demonstrated similar findings to the OCLC Report in that people are interested in collaborating with their friends and other people with similar interests (Ishizuka, 2010). Social networking sites facilitate communication between those who share a passion or interest in particular topic or issue (Meyer; Richardson; Anderson – cited in Ishizuka, 2010). The popularity of social networking via websites such as Facebook has grown steadily and now incorporates a range of cultural and social interests. Use of social networking sites (SNSs) has nearly doubled since 2008 with 73% of online adults using an SNS and the use of social networking among 22- 29 year olds has increased from 9 to 90% from 2005 to 2013 (Duggan and Smith, 2013). In 2012 Facebook had grown so rapidly that it had over 1 billion users who participate mainly in posting status updates on theirs as well as friends pages/ walls. The increased access to mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets has also increased the popularity of SNSs that have adapted quickly with mobile apps (Chang, Hung, Cheng and Wu 2014).
As we move into 2015 and the increasing popularity of SNSs helps to facilitate the growth of online communities there is a broadening of scholarly research and increasing acceptance of SNSs in education. In 2014 74% of online adults use social networking sites, 71% of online adults use Facebook, 22% use LinkedIn, 21% use Pinterest, 19% of online adults use Twitter, and 17% use Instagram (P.R.J.P, 2014). Education institutions have recognised the value of SNSs such as Facebook to reach out and communicate with their communities. SNS platforms can also be customised or redeveloped with Web 2.0 tools to assist participants to collaborate with each other on shared interest topics. The collaborative aspect of SNSs has resulted in a range of new uses in education to help learning communities and knowledge networks evolve. As more innovative approaches to the use of SNSs are implemented across the curriculum, there will be a growing need for information professionals to curate and encourage the use of collaborative mediums.
Chang, C. C., Hung, S. W., Cheng, M. J., & Wu, C. Y. (2014). Exploring the intention to continue using social networking sites: The case of Facebook. Technological Forecasting and Social Change.
De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC.
Duggan, M., & Smith, A. (2013). Social media update 2013. Pew Internet and American Life Project.
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Ishizuka, K. (2010). People Who Need People. School Library Journal, 56(2), 32.
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