The Social Network Era

Facebook friends

I just recently saw the movie The Social Network, a fictionalized telling of how Mark Zuckerberg brought Facebook to the (inter)national stage. I thought it was a captivating and well-made movie—especially well written. (Watch for Aaron Sorkin’s cameo, too!)

But what fascinated me most about the movie was the glimpse back it gave, of that modern time when college students already had their own computers and the Internet/World Wide Web were already everywhere and Google and Amazon were household names, but Facebook was not. Twitter was not. Maybe we had MySpace, but those who were on it were still the exception and not the rule. To know someone’s current status, you had to talk to them, or at least have an instant messenger program open so you could look at your friends’ “away” messages. To share your band’s music, you had to somehow attract people to your website. To share photos, you had to email them or alert people that they were uploaded somewhere. And to share your opinion with millions, you had to have a radio or TV show, a newspaper column, a high-traffic blog, or an extremely large email list.

Obviously, we live in a different world.

Yesterday, I followed a link that a friend posted on Facebook to see the Oscar nominees for Best Picture. Someone emailed me a funny celebrity tweet (because I still haven’t jumped on that bandwagon). And my News Feed showed at least one video post from President Obama. I’m not sure how much time I’ve spent on Facebook over the years, but there’s a reason (ha! remember those days?) quickly became known as the Void among my friends.

Though for all the personal time-management and privacy issues that social networking sites raise, they unquestionably have changed the way organizations operate and reach out. Lerner Publishing Group has set up shop on Facebook and on Twitter (@lernerbooks), where we are connected to many of our authors, illustrators, and reviewers. Their fans can find us through them, and our fans can find them through us—an amazing little system. (FYI, if you like wordplay and haven’t been to Brian P. Cleary’s Facebook page, you’re missing out.) We announce contests, give the scoop on publishing/kidlit conferences, proudly announce honors for our books, and more, all in hopes of reaching more and more people as the social networks expand and all their nodes—their members—become increasingly connected. And the ways we connect keep changing every day.

How has the advent of the social network era changed your life, or your business, or the way you interact with patrons/readers/others? Let us know!

Image courtesy of Flickr’s luc legay/Creative Commons: