Ham Radio and the New Media

Amateur Radio & the New Media
Glenn Petri KE4KY

In this new age of social media, it is becoming easier and easier to connect like-minded individuals around a particular function, movement, or organization. So it is with social media and ham radio. It would seem that every aspect of the hobby has its own following through webpages, Facebook group pages, twitter feeds, etc… The number of these locations on the web is seemingly endless.

While I am not yet an “old fogey” at the age of 51, the trends happening around me (and you) are simply mind-blowing as it relates to Internet usage and social media. Here are a few nuggets of information from the Internet regarding social media:

  • Worldwide, there are over 1.23 billion monthly active Facebook users, 16 percent increase year over year
  • Facebook users spend 6.35 hours each month on the social network via their desktop
  • 4.5 billion “likes” generated daily as of May 2013, which is a 67 percent increase from the previous year
  • Over 700 million people log into Facebook daily
  • Age 25 to 35 are the most active users
  • One in five webpage views in the United States occurs on Facebook

(Source: http://zephoria.com/social-media/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/)

Facebook is not the only social network around, with there being many popular social media websites. One thing for sure, Facebook is the biggest game in town currently, and with no signs of it diminishing any time soon.

The way we interact with the world, and with each other, is drastically and quickly changing. Advertisers, special interest groups, organizations, and clubs will need to adapt in order to meet the expectation and trends of the generation behind us.

As we narrow this down to our beloved hobby of Amateur Radio, our clubs and organizations need to look at how we communicate with our membership, our followers, and our potential future constituents. A vibrant and thriving club should, by necessity, have an attractive and informative website. I have seen webpages for Amateur Radio Clubs that have NO means on the site to contact the club or its leadership directly. I had to use the limited information provided on the webpage to hopefully catch a call sign to then trace through other methods to make contact with an organization’s officer or webmaster. Why would one consider joining a club when they don’t even have a means to communicate with the organization via their own webpage? It sounds rather counter-intuitive for folks who are supposed to be in the “communication” arena.

Facebook group and twitter pages are an excellent means to communicate with the larger and more diverse club memberships. The good part…..these pages are free to establish and maintain. They are very easy for one or two people to create, manage, and monitor. It is an excellent means to have every aspect of the hobby, e.g., EMCOMM, QRP, SOTA, Fox Hunting, kit building, DXing, and so forth, represented in the organization, with these special interests promoted and mentioned for all in the organization to see. The “champions” of these specialized areas will inevitably feel more welcomed to the group with the ability to actively promote their own niche specialty. With the exposure given to the many facets of the hobby in this fashion, there is the distinct possibility that someone’s own interests might be gently nudged into a new area inside the world of Amateur Radio.

Please check out some excellent local examples of informative and eye-catching web locations:

Bullitt Amateur Radio Society webpage: www.ky4ky.com

Bullitt Amateur Radio Society Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/170376662105/

Derby City DX Association webpage: www.ky4dx.org

Derby City DX Association Facebook: www.facebook.com/ky4dx

Amateur Radio Transmitting Society, Louisville, KY webpage: http://www.w4cn.org/

Amateur Radio Transmitting Society, Louisville, KY: www.facebook.com/groups/w4cnartsclub/

Kentucky Amateur Radio Society, Bardstown, KY: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kb4ky/

Following other clubs and organizations is an excellent means to evaluate what your own club is doing. Look at the activity you see, emulate it and apply those things to your own club.

Embrace the “new” technologies to broaden our own horizons, and at the same time, broaden the appeal for your own club or organization.