Published on July 4th, 2012 | by Amy Edwards0
Forget brand promotion and gossip… 7 alternative uses for social media
By Amy @BubbleJobs
From catching up on the latest gossip to promoting a business, there’s no denying that social media is now very much an intrinsic part of our lives. Whether you’re a Twitter addict or just on LinkedIn for career development, shunning all forms of social media is almost as impossible as resisting that bag of jelly babies on your desk – but while social media’s great for both commercial and personal reasons, social media does have other uses.
What am I talking about? Well, as we discussed on Tuesday (and if you haven’t read the blog yet, what are you playing at?!) with every tweet, post or like comes a tonne of social media data which can then be analysed and used to predict trends or spot important patterns. Now, not all the uses below are connected to social media data but the majority are – read on to see what I’m talking about!
The first alternative use for social media is related to the tracking of forest fires. It’s fair to say that forest fires are big news wherever they break out and Twitter and Flickr are now making it easier than ever before for emergency workers to get a better handle on the situation. How does it work? Well, by layering real-time Flickr images and geo-tagged tweets on to a map, emergency teams can ‘see’ the situation in real-time and distribute resources more efficiently. Clever huh?!
Next up, social media can also be used to spot outbreaks of major illnesses in certain parts of the world. From cholera to certain flu strains, Twitter helps health authorities get a picture of the overall health of community. It’s simple really – when they spot lots of tweets related to symptoms connected to the illness, they can predict an epidemic and send help and vaccines to the worst-hit areas.
Now I’m not expecting this one to be popular given the current state of the economy but social media data can also be used to help hedge funds generate more money. Again this one’s pretty simple – hedge funds use Twitter to assess current sentiment about certain kinds of investment before spending their valuable cash.
Didn’t think you could learn a lot from LinkedIn? Think again! LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to assess the future of a certain industry. From seeing an influx of new jobs in one sector to recording a significant lack of new opportunities in another sector, LinkedIn is quickly becoming a key figure head when it comes to assessing the state of the economy in general.
OK enough of the data-related uses – next up are three alternative uses for social media that don’t involve assessing past data. First up, social media is an invaluable tool for assessing the validity of a statement, claim, image or video. Thanks to its global appeal and instant feedback abilities, Twitter is regularly used by journalists who want to verify a statement, image or video which has been handed to them – particularly when it comes from a country that they’re struggling to get access to for political reasons.
Ever thought of Twitter as the possible ‘crimestopper’ of social media? It might be time to start… in the last few years, we’ve seen Twitter being used to report crime in countries like Mexico via anonymous accounts. By using anonymous accounts, users can report a crime without having to worry about being seen or heard.
Last but not least (and this might be an obvious one so forgive me!), Twitter has also made it quicker and easier for publications, TV channels and online news publishers to access user-generated content. Forget waiting for photos to arrive in the post or over email – thanks to Twitter, news channels can now receive photos and videos pretty much straight after the event has occurred, allowing them to craft a real-time, content-rich report before anyone else.
So there you go, next time you tweet, post or add a new job to your LinkedIn profile – just think, you could be helping industry big-wigs to spot current trends, patterns and epidemics! Get you!