Facebook, YouTube, and the Awesome Power of Social Media

I was feeling nostalgic after my morning coffee and reviewing the rubric for this module’s class assignment.  I wondered how much Air Force Officer Training School had changed since I crossed over from the enlisted side of the house.  I pulled up YouTube, did a quick search for “Air Force Officer Training School”, and voila!  Over 100 videos of the next generation of Air Force hot-shots doing PT, attending classes, eating in the chow hall (now “dining facility”), looking lean and mean, popped up on my laptop.

In less time than it takes to say “room service” (you Soldiers and Marines should get that joke), I’m grinning with pride and reminiscing about the day I crossed that blue line.  Seeing those young men and women standing tall evoked a visceral response that is hard to explain.

That’s the power of social media.

You’re able to share in the lives and experiences of others at the click of your mouse.  It enriches the human experience by broadening our ability to communicate with friends, family, and strangers in hopes that what we share with them helps to make our, and their, lives whole.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “social media” is:

“forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”1

Exactly what I said, right?

YouTube and Facebook are two very popular social media tools, so let’s compare them to give you an idea of how they can help to share your message with many, many people in a very, very short time.

YouTube brought on some flashbacks of me face down in the mud as a scrawny trainee, so let’s begin there.  It’s a free social media tool that allows you to post, watch, share, rate, and comment on millions of videos.  YouTube even shows you what videos are trending as popular (like the Super Bowl commercial previews) and recommends others that you may find interesting based upon previous searches.  You don’t have to be the next Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino to contribute.  Have video-enabled smartphone and a message?  Record, post, enjoy-that’s all that’s to it!

Businesses, bases, superstars, and the average Joe/Jane use YouTube to market themselves and their goods/services.  If people don’t already know who you are, YouTube is a great way to introduce yourself, show the world your product, service, or skill, and see who is watching you.  If you already enjoy some fame (or notoriety), it brings you and whatever/whoever you are associated with some instant credibility because people know you and your brand, and are brought to your services because they see you on YouTube and think you’re the authority.  After all, you must be important if you’re on TV (or a computer monitor), right?

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, representing another way to talk to and show people what you’re made of though posts, videos, IMs, “likes”, and the like.  Although your teenager and their friends may be posting pics and LOL-ing at the Grumpy Cat pic, or meme, Facebook isn’t for kids…at least as much as it used to be.  According to Mashable, the most popular site among all teens now is YouTube!  50% of teens surveyed cited YouTube as their favorite site versus 45.2% for Facebook Go figure.

     One of the differences between the two social media tools is that Facebook allows you to customize the look and feel of a corporate page than YouTube, which can help organizations’ branding efforts. Better still, linking your YouTube videos to your FB site can give viewers a favorable impression of you or your business before checking out your latest product demo, solo rendition, or funny dog tricks.  Another difference between them is the degree of interaction that happens between people and organizations on FB vs. YouTube.  FB users can instant message (IM), make video calls, view and comment on videos and other posts, whereas YouTube only allows visitors to post videos and comment on others’ masterpieces.

     Word of caution to you FB and YouTube newbies: there are drawbacks to laying your life on the line in public.  Friends, family, employers and clients may be viewing some of the random thoughts and rants posted to these and other social media sites.  So, I advise you not to post anything that would make your mother cringe (and IM you)!