Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Augmenting Community Radio with Social Media

Social media is a term which refers to the user-generated, participatory applications of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is the defining feature of what some call Web 2.0 (OReilly, 2003) the interactive public sphere of the Internet. Web 2.0 delineates the participatory infrastructure of the World Wide Web. Its architecture is rooted in the principles and practices of rich public dialogues.

The impact of social media on the ways we relate to and communicate with one another has been significant: over half of the Canadian population is now signed up for Facebook (, 2011) ; over 13 million hours of video footage was uploaded to YouTube in 2010 (, 2011); and between 2010 and 2011, Twitter activity, measured by tweets per day, increased by 252% (, 2011). Social media then, provides individuals and organizations with a free and powerful tool kit for engagement and communication.

In the advertising world this is translating into social media campaigns around brands and products. Positive narratives about, and customer engagement with, the campaign are viewed as the keys to, and measurements of success to the advertiser. Social media is also a powerful tool for gathering market research, so that campaigns can be targeted and archives of user data can be accumulated. Social media campaigns are designed to sell a product or idea; a campaign is created around a brand or product based on an organization’s desire to do so.

In the activism world, this is translating into social media campaigns for social justice; fundraising efforts for Tsunami victims (, 2004) and the successful of the Egyptian revolution (, 2011) are two powerful examples of how individuals harnessed the power of social media independently to mobilize and effect positive change. Social justice campaigns are designed to help and share; a campaign emerges around a cause or an issue based on individual response to it.

Next week, Ryakuga will be releasing a handbook for using social media to augment community radio events, campaigns are blended. The “product” being sold is individual and community identity, the positive change desired is sustainable community and individual self-esteem development. The campaign also allows for an archive of the event to be created, and can provide a virtual home base for the community event or station.

Adding a virtual overlay to an existing community can strengthen the bonds between the people within it and can have phenomenal positive identity effects (Willson, 2006). Social media can facilitate the emergence of a community dialogue using text, photography, video, and sound.

Participating in a community becomes a specific and deliberative action when social media is used within it, and active participation becomes documented and archived for reference. Recognition for participation is given through direct feedback from other community members, which reinforces feelings of inclusion and belonging in the participant. Using social media to participate in a virtually defined community is a self-referential action and becomes connected to the very essence of the community itself.

Using social media, community dialogue is documented as the multitude of voices that participated using social media tools. It is the whole of the communication between the community members who created it.

(Charlene Gagnon, 2011)

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