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Thing 6: Social Networking (Facebook)

Page history last edited by Karla Irwin 8 years, 11 months ago

Be aware that social media sites, like Facebook, are constantly changing and this article may not be completely up-to-date with all of Facebook's 

latest features, but the basics are still correct.


By Kathryn Otto


Facebook probably gets more mainstream press than any other tool on this list—besides blogging and Twitter. And, as we all know, not all the press is positive. Social networks, however, are one of the main ways that young adults communicate with each other—65% of teens 12-17, according to a February 2008 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.  A 2011 report by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) found that 90% of undergraduate college students use Facebook. 


But young adults are no longer the only users of social networks. According to another Pew study published in October 2009, 46% of American adults 18 and older use a social networking site, up from a mere 8% in 2005.


Facebook began as a college-focused social network—it originally required a dot-edu address to join. When it opened up to all comers, many Facebook users were not happy as the exclusivity for young adults seemed lost. Many adults joined Facebook as a way to communicate with their college-age children away at school. Soon they were “friending” other relatives, friends, and acquaintances, quickly realizing why their children liked this new way of communicating. 


According to comScore, Facebook is the leading social networking site based on monthly unique visitors, having overtaken its then-main competitor MySpace in April 2008. According to a study put out Pew Research Center in February of 2013 a whopping 62% of adult men and 72% of adult women use Facebook.  In 2011 Google launched its own social networking service called Google+ in an attempt to rival Facebook. While still lagging behind Facebook in registered and active users, Google+ did did surpass Twitter in January 2013 to become the second most popular social networking site. 


So, what does it all mean to archives? Whether or not you become a social networking convert, it is important to understand how they work. If our users are communicating through these networks, we need to be able to be there, too. Many libraries have a presence on social networks, and more and more archives are showing up too.


Please “like” the RAO Facebook page at: Reference, Access & Outreach Section of the Society of American Archivists. There is also a “group” page for 23 Things called: 23 Things for Archivists. There is not a lot of activity there so far; to see how a more active open group works, check out the Twin Cities Archives Round Table. You can also make a group page “closed,” which means that the members need to be invited or ask to belong, and only members can see the posts. A nifty feature of groups is that you can chat in real time with other group members.



  • In this Thing you are going to explore a social network. You have the choice of visiting either Facebook or Google+ or, if you are already familiar with those two, try a social network created specifically for adults, such as Gather (“Social Networking with Substance”) or BigTent (for community groups and volunteer groups).
  • Establish a profile; search for people you know and “friend” them; review the privacy settings; join a Facebook group or become a fan of a page; look for other archives-related groups and pages to associate with.


Advanced Tasks

  • If you are interested in having a Facebook presence for your archives, go ahead and set one up now. Rebecca Hopman has a helpful and streamlined list of guidelines.


Blog Prompts

  • Write a post on your blog about the groups/pages/friends you find and your thoughts about social networking sites.
  • How can you see yourself using social networking, either for work or personally?



New resources (as of 11-1-11*, as of 7-9-13 *)


Some Archives Pages on Facebook

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