I remember it like it was yesterday, it was 2006 and I was completing my last working day at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. It wasn’t like any other day, it was special; I had just received my college email and that could only mean one thing. Facebook account! Once I entered my name, email and set up my profile it was as if I had entered a new world. This new world was surrounded by people who I once walked my high school halls with, even elementary school friends who I lost contact with on my journey through high school. It was amazing how by one click of a button I could speak to an old friend. It was social interaction through Social networking sites.
According to Boyd & Ellison, social network sites (SNSs) are defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system. It also allows users to articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. By definition I think we all can agree that Boyd and Ellison were right with their description of social media, it completely sums up my activities on a daily basis. Update Profile. Find new friends and connect with them. Find mutual friends of my friends and connect with them. I honestly can’t count how many hours I spend on social media re-watching the same videos, seeing the same photos and reading the same statuses.
For our discussion this week we discussed if it is important for educators and curriculum leaders to implement social media into their journalism and communication classes. Unsurprisingly we all had the same answer, yes, especially with the growing numbers of businesses and companies accepting social media and the benefits of having a strong presence. The lack of social media education would be a disservice to any student trying to succeed within their field. According to Business Insider, Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email! With users constantly using Facebook and Twitter it is a no-brainer for companies to take advantage of this growing trend. I’m almost positive I have become a victim to one of my favorite stores advertising a cute outfit or electronic on Facebook and Twitter. Although social networking sites help with connecting with friends, distance family and former peers it most importantly generates awareness for companies using SNSs.
A business using social media to me is simply brilliant, we have moved into an era where a television advertisement just doesn’t cut it anymore. As a culture we understand that this is the new way of communicating and social media will more than likely progress beyond what we experience at this moment.
Let’s take a quick look into Twitter.
In an article written by Weiss and Arceneuax, during the onset of the Twitter craze there was constant criticism and skepticism, unscathed Twitter still attracted the attention of media outlets and businesses. As a result of its rise in popularity, Twitter inherently became a source for marketing, publicity, and customer service tasks for many companies and government agencies worldwide. Interestingly enough Twitter understands its impact and provides different links to assist businesses, media and developers with creating engaging twitter interactions for users (see photo on right). They pride themselves on becoming a tool to help business target their audience efficiently and effectively.
Strategic Communicators and Polarization:
Besides these companies and business I believe that strategic communicators should also have a strong interest in utilizing social networking sites. In light of the culture of polarization, I think it is important that strategic communicators keep a close eye on their organizations audience through social media. Although most companies experience great support from their audience, there are many people who share different point of views. Yardi and Boyd perfectly described the issues surrounding polarization: “Cass Sunstein has claimed that contemporary media and the Internet have abetted a culture of Polarization, in which people primarily seek out points of view to which they already subscribe(Sunstein, 2001). Indeed, people’s opinions have been shown to become more extreme simply because their view has been corroborated, and because they grow more confident after learning of the shared views of others (Sunstein, 2008).”
On the up side of using social media is the amount of attention a company can receive if these platforms are used correctly. I’ve experienced so many different companies working hard trying to promote their products, but I do have to say Lay’s Potato chips have been the one of the front runners in strategically and creatively using social media to sell their products while involving their target audience. Even though I’m not a fan of any of their new flavors, the effectiveness of their social media campaign has garnered them over 7 million Facebook fans and 268k in twitter followers. Quite impressive if I say so myself. It is companies like Frit-o-Lay that will always see the successes behind a brilliant social media campaign and using their SNSs sites effectively.
With the amount of time spent navigating through Facebook, twitter and Instagram you can’t help but think about the time and money you have spent while prowling on SNSs. I can admit that this emerging media has been a great advantage for business owners and government organization who chose to take advantage of it. I can only imagine how many people like me spend more time on the internet looking for news, shopping and entertainment. This is just all the reason for weary companies to hop on the bandwagon.