Social Media and the Childbirth Educator: What’s all the Buzz About?
Last week, I accompanied Cara Terreri (Community Manager of our sister site, Giving Birth With Confidence) in delivering a Lamaze-sponsored webinar* on social media for the childbirth educator. During the webinar, we discussed common social media platforms and the question of why on earth would a person want to commit time and energy to this form of communication and interaction with others. Because, after all, most of us working in the childbirth education arena are people-persons, right? We love the time we spend in class with expectant parents—maybe we even enjoy taking part in a couple community awareness raising campaigns or other in-person normal birth advocacy events each year. So, why would we want to hide behind our computer screens and “interact” with other birth professionals & pregnant women (and their partners) in lieu of face-to-face time? Avoiding my gut reaction to respond, “Because everybody’s doin’ it,” in a nut shell, that wouldn’t be a half-bad answer.
Yes, social media is the wave of both today and the future and, as Dr. Klein et al. recently published findings to this same tune, more and more women are turning to the internet—including social media sites—to dig up information on pregnancy, birth and parenting issues.
But if you haven’t made your way into the social media scene as of yet, (okay, you’re reading this, so you must be somewhat comfortable with social media) the prospect could feel daunting. “What is Twitter and how do I start tweeting?” “What’s the difference between Linked In and Facebook?” “Do I really have the time or money to sink into maintaining a blog or website—and furthermore, do I really want to?” Those sorts of questions were addressed in our webinar, and will be addressed further in tomorrow’s post by social media gurus Hillary Boucher and Jeanette McCulloch.
But other questions remain—those I continue to grapple with:
*Does online advocacy equal real-life advocacy?
*Do online conversations and debates amongst like-minded and opposing individuals create changes in thought, opinion and practice? (Or do they just get people fired up without any real change in sight?)
*What is it about the psychology of online interaction that prompts the type of human behavior you’re less likely to see and expect when people are interacting with each other face-to-face?
*How has the use of social media improved the work of normal birth advocates? How has it detracted from our work?
I will be addressing these topics and more at the 2011 Lamaze International conference in Fort Worth, TX. I hope to see you there!
*If you attended this webinar and would like to receive a copy of the slides, contact Kacy Reams at firstname.lastname@example.org