Blogging and Social Media: Impact and Reach

Today I will yet again be giving a training session to post-graduate research students and early career researchers about writing blogs. I have run this session (or a similar one) a number of times now – not only to those at Cardiff University, but also to students on an MA programme at the School of Modern Languages in Cardiff University, students on an MA programme at the Sainsbury Institute/University of East Anglia, and to post-graduate students in the British Association for Japanese Studies.

In preparation for the session this time, I thought I would have another look at the social media I use and think about some of the impact that it may be having.

First of all, there is this site of course. In total, to date, my posts have been viewed around 25,000 times (it’s likely to be significantly more than this as WordPress doesn’t count all visits for some reason). I don’t know whether this is really a lot in the grand scheme of things, but I suspect that it is much more than the number of people who have read my articles or books.

But the 25,000+ views of this site, is still lower than the number of views that one of my videos on YouTube has got. My video “Remembering JL123” currently has more than 32,000 views (a video which I uploaded only a few weeks ago, which I discussed in a post about Mixing Sport, Military, and Nationalism, has already got over 5,000 views too… that post is the only one where I have had an insulting comment, but as it was sent anonymously (technically they called themselves “USA”!) and further emphasized why I stand by what I wrote in that post, it doesn’t bother me too much – but I didn’t allow the comment to be posted). This is a tiny number in comparison to many popular videos on the platform, but as a video designed to draw attention to the JL123 plane crash, about which I have been researching since 2007, it is far from an insignificant number.

The video is about 9 years old now and still shows in the bottom right corner the link to my old website. I could update it, but it seems a little pointless since there is a link from that address to my up-to-date post about my research on the JL123 plane crash.

I know from the data that I can get from WordPress that I do get many visits to this site from the YouTube video (and also the other direction). This, in turn, takes some people on a journey to read more about my research on the JL123 crash, particularly the isho (the final notes written on the flight – about which I am still doing some research), my book Dealing with Disaster in Japan, my book Osutaka, or my most recent article related to the crash, ‘Developing a Model to Explain Modifications to Public Transportation Accident Memorials‘. But there are also many other blog posts that I have written related to JL123 which people also look at. Many of these contains information, thoughts and other things that never make it into a publication. It’s also clear from the data that many people will also take time to look at my other posts too.

While the focus of academic work will continue to be on publications, we clearly cannot ignore other forms out outputs.

But my posts and social media presence aren’t limited to academic work. I have also done, for example, book reviews, music reviews, and even a theatre performance review. I know from feedback from some of the authors and musicians themselves that this has helped raised awareness of the books/albums and led to increased sales. On the other side of things, a post that I did about poor service by Hermes helped to lead to me getting compensation from them. I am still debating doing a similar post about Waterstones and BT in relation to their service (you may be aware of some of the Waterstones one due to posts on Twitter), this time in comparison to Coca-Cola rather than Co-Op.

There is no doubt, social media (in its broadest sense) is a powerful force, and nobody and no organisation can ignore its reach and impact. Consequently, they also need to be proactive in ensuring that their practices don’t lead to their negative impact being called out. Although there can be negative aspects of social media, if it can help to better service and better treatment of people, then it has a place in modern society.

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