Social media, college style

If colleges are the incubators of the future, then I’d say anyone not using a smartphone in years to come might as well be using a tin cup and a cane. A recent session at the University of Georgia showed just what fascinating work is being done in social media by tomorrow’s leaders, and the lovable zeal that only college students can bring to their work.

The New Media Institute, an arm of the journalism school at the University of Georgia, hosted “Personal Media, Public Good” on campus. Purpose was to show how various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, mobile, gaming) can be used to promote personal fitness or streamline one’s life. Everyone knows the large numbers of people that use Facebook and Twitter, but the growth of smartphone usage and the popularity of gaming doesn’t get quite as much attention. The UGA students in the program had entertaining ways to use all these mediums to get people moving. Some examples.

— As a UGA student, I can remember plenty of times deciding which campus bus to take to class. With Dawgstop, an iPhone app, students can have schedules in their handheld gadgets.

— Everyone is sentimental about their alma mater, but I always have felt Athens and the UGA campus had an exceptional amount of charm. CityStep, a mobile app displayed at the session (see below video), is a virtual walking tour of the area, complete with ghost stories about a particular dormitory.

— My Fitness Live is a Facebook app that some students developed so that an exercise instructor can give remote instructions to either a homebound person or even an entire fitness class (see above video).

When the cynical adults were asked as panelists what they thought about all this ingenuity, most approved. (Panelists included officials from the CDC, NewellRubbermaid and AT&T). Funding from advertising and other sources is always a challenge, but one can see how fitness would have appeal to businesses and people of all ages. And Dawgstop could have appeal to municipalities that aren’t already using such a system.

But what about social media itself, and its rapid evolution? Will Twitter survive, panelists were asked. There seems to be conflicting data everywhere about its financial viability; some say it’s profitable, but a panelist said Saturday that its “burn rate” doesn’t look good. But another panelist, U. of Washington digital media professor Kathy Gill, noted that real-time messaging will remain in social media in some form.

So let the learning continue. This session certainly was more informative than some of the elementary, one size fits all “new media” sessions that seem to be growing on trees everywhere.

For the 77-page report about Saturday’s session, click here.

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About Steve Burns

I live in the Atlanta area. I also lived for many years in Southern California. I'm into mainstream media, social media, sports, business and politics. I worked for AOL's Patch, but this is my personal blog. I'm on Twitter (@bsteve76), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. See ya 'round!
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