The debate about the good and bad that comes with social networks is going to continue for many months and years ahead. Some will never understand the benefits that linking to people brings and others will continue to loudly advocate its use to support modern life. What is clear is that the network is getting more and more established and one of the clear signs has to be the number of awards that are emerging for all elements of social networking.
There has to be something about awards being introduced that makes the social networking arena more legitimate. They may not have the razzmatazz of the Oscars and Baftas, nor the industry backing of a sector related award such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) awards. But they have honesty about them as they are mainly nominated by users and supported by followers and friends alike.
Some have been around for a few years whereas others seem to emerge and develop overnight. It only takes a forward thinking individual with an idea and some inclination and within a matter of days the awards can be created, and publicised across social networks to many thousands and even millions of people.
What benefit does it bring? It is like a giant Twitter #FollowFriday – as an individuals or organisations Facebook, Twitter or other account is given the thumbs up. But more than that it is another way of bringing people together as they agree or disagree with each other about who deserves the votes. They discuss the nominees and take a look at those feeds that they may not have come across before.
A good example of how this awards phenomenon can develop can be found in the equine sphere. Equine website company Abbeyview Equine working with PR Rhea Freeman have launched the Equine Social Media Awards. Find out more here http://abbeyviewequine.com/awards . They shared details of it through social networks and there were more than 4,000 nominations in 10 days. And in a few short months it has now become a hot topic on equine websites, social networks and even in the national equine magazines. Some of the biggest titles like Horse and Hound and Your Horse (for those who don’t know trust me these are big industry titles) have covered the awards in their pages. What do they benefit from this? Well, the obvious free publicity and I am sure a comforting feeling that they have created something big.
Unlike those awards where a ‘selected’ team choose the winners most of the social network awards are chosen by real people who have enjoyed the stream of information and entertainment they have received from the feeds and pages. I suppose it is really the ‘big society’ in action – people taking control of how they receive information and then getting the recognition for doing it. There is no requirement for establishment support to make these things happen. They simply emerge in an organic way.
No matter what the views of individuals may be about the use of social networks and whether they are damaging modern life, they are clearly here to stay. And why shouldn’t people take the opportunity to support those people who take the time to share information, knowledge and views? Sharing this information and knowledge may be a way we can improve our world. Sounds a big corny but it could well turn out to be true. For after all if knowledge is power then the social networks are a force to be reckoned with.