26th April 2012, 4:21pm
Seriously Connected: Changing Behaviour Through Social Media
Social networking. Image jannoon028 The online social networking site Facebook has 845 million active users worldwide. This includes a staggering 95 per cent of the UK’s 18 – 25 year olds.

Twitter has 127 million users. It is estimated that users post 780 million daily status updates to these two social media sites alone.

Ten years ago no-one had really heard of social media and the phrase ‘social network’ was only used by academics working in the social sciences. Now, social media is pervasive and is often viewed as the glue that interconnects people, places and business in work, play and lifestyle.  But can we harness it for serious purposes to improve our own everyday lives and the lives of those around us?

Shaun Lawson, Director of the Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre and Professor in Social Computing, will attempt to answer this very question in his public lecture entitled Seriously Connected: Changing Behaviour Through Social Media, taking place on 1 May.

Since co-founding LiSC in 2006 – just ahead of the phenomenal interest in services such as Facebook and Twitter - Professor Lawson has directed many studies in this area, funded by organisations including the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and Microsoft Research.

He said: “The research we have been undertaking in LiSC has been helping us to understand people’s emergent everyday use of social media. We are also involved in experimental work, attempting to use social media platforms to deliver serious applications that raise awareness and positively change behaviour. Areas we have already been working on include energy consumption and sustainability, healthy eating and exercise, and mental health and wellbeing.”

In his lecture Professor Lawson will draw on these experiences to explain what we really understand about people’s use of social media and how it might be used in the future to positively affect people’s lives.

Professor Lawson’s applied, cutting edge work has attracted funding from sources such as EPSRC, the EU, Microsoft Research and UK charities. He currently directs a number of major research projects including: multi-university ENACT project which has received half a million pounds of funding from the EPSRC, and is designing psychotherapy interventions, based on social media, for sleep disorders;  HEFCE-funded Electro-Magnates project exploring how social games can be used to reduce energy costs in the public sector.

Seriously Connected: Changing Behaviour Through Social Media takes place from 6pm on Tuesday 1 May in the EMMTEC Auditorium, Brayford Campus, University of Lincoln. Registration starts at 5:30pm.

The Lincoln Academy Lectures are free to attend but places must be booked in advance by calling 01522 837100 or emailing events@lincoln.ac.uk

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