Based on my uncanny knack to totally miss trends and be the least coolest kid at the party, it’s no surprise that when I look back on my little slice of reality for 2012, it was the Year of Social Media.
That’s right, I’ve finally caught on. It’s been almost a decade since Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, six years since Twitter hit the Internet and a couple years since Instagram took the world by storm… but I’m here now. And it feels great.
It’s easy to take a pass on the latest and greatest rage when you live in Nelson. Most people choose this neck of the woods for a reason: to escape the hassles and harried life of the big city. That’s why I’m here.
But I’m in the communication business and it’s finally dawned on me that this whole social media thing allows my creative tentacles to reach much farther. I mean, who doesn’t want to read my column about life in Nelson in a place like Liverpool or Las Vegas?
We media dinosaurs who’ve been plugging away since the days when typewriters were still in every newsroom and the Internet was some sort of nerd fantasy project can have a tough time swallowing change. But in 2012 it finally clicked for me and now I’m all in.
Instead of fearing social media, I’ve come to realize it’s an important tool for the future of newspapers. And it’s kind of fun too.
I’ve been on Facebook for several years, but never paid much attention until this year. Reconnecting with old friends always seemed swell, but I had better things to do. Finally I’ve come to realize Facebook is much more than people posting cute pictures of their kids and telling the world what a great party they attended last night.
You need look no further than Nelson’s win in Powder Magazine’s Ski Town Throwdown contest (see related story page 10) to realize the importance of social media. We are somewhat unlikely winners in a Facebook competition that relies on social media reach. But a closer look reveals just how plugged in this little mountain town is.
Our ace in the hole was quite likely the Shambhala Music Festival. The electronic music festival has 79,248 “likes” on its Facebook page. The enthusiastic organizers of the festival were totally on board the push to make Rossland/Nelson a champion and appealed to their followers.
To put it in perspective, the Facebook page with the most likes is not surprisingly Facebook itself with 83,510,686. Others notables include Eminem with 64,140,077 (sixth); Harry Potter has 54,285, 945 (11th); the Family Guy television show has 49,517,731 (15th) and Disney has 40,056,195 (25th). Here at the Nelson Star, we have 875 likes. Tiny, but when you compare us with other newspapers like the Castlegar News (491), Trail Times (318), Vernon Morning Star (1,175) and Calgary Herald (7,031), it’s not too shabby.
Though Facebook is the social media powerhouse with one billion users worldwide, it’s Twitter that’s really become an important tool for journalists. If you choose who you follow with some discretion, it becomes a key source of the latest information.
The morning of the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school, I was on my day off. I checked the Twitter feed while enjoying my morning coffee and read the breaking news. Even in 140 characters (the maximum allowed on a Twitter post), the words were shocking. Then I turned on the television and it became one of those news moments I’ll never forget.
On a less serious note, it’s fun to collect followers and exchange information that I dig up on my daily travels on the Internet. My @BobbyHall10 account has 276 followers. A long way away from Lady Gaga’s 32,357,946 Twitter flock, but a good start.
My favourite social media vice has become Instagram. I joined the photo sharing platform at the start of 2012 and 462 photos later, it has become the scrapbook of my life.
Getting to share good images with others is simple, but the power of photography runs a lot deeper. Images from around the world, and right in your backyard, leave an impact and the simple act of winter sledding brings a smile to your face.
Spreading the news of Nelson within and beyond our borders has become more important than ever in this business. This past year I finally crawled out of my cave, shook off my social media slumber and realized the future is now.
Bob Hall is editor of the Star. You can find him on Twitter at @BobbyHall10 and on Instragram at