For the past 8+ years, social media has been a huge part of my life – primarily in a personal way, but also elsewhere. From my first days using AIM instant messenger to communicate with my elementary school friends to watching my entire friend group transfer from MySpace to Facebook to creating social media accounts for the small business that I started during my freshman year of college, I have been lucky enough to have grown up alongside an ever-changing social world. All of these changes that I just mentioned were taken in stride by myself and those of my generation, oftentimes without even noticing. It is only now, as I sit down to reflect on the impact that social media has had on the last 21 years of my life, that I realize how many monumental shifts in the industry I’ve lived through.
Relatively speaking, social media is a fairly new industry. Yet in its short lifespan, it has undergone a massive amount of changes, in a variety of different ways. Being a small business owner, I have seen how sites such as Instagram and Facebook have attempted to make themselves an attractive landscape for businesses to advertise on. These platforms, which had for years served predominantly as personal outlets for non-business users, were now trying to monetize their massive user bases. Just as I had once learned how to tag my high school friends in photos from our escapades, I now had to learn how to target a Facebook advertisement so it would be seen by those most likely to make a purchase from my business. This was a huge shift in how Facebook was approaching its users.
When Twitter first burst onto the social media landscape, many users (including myself) thought that it would be a platform inundated by useless updates such as, “I am eating” or “I am sleeping.” I don’t think that many people saw Twitter becoming a platform that would be central to political advocacy and movements such as #BLACKLIVESMATTER or becoming a huge vehicle for customer service and brand personality with industries like aviation. Yet, this is exactly how these platforms transformed during the past 5-7 years and these transformations are exactly what led me to take this class.
Now, as I enter this class, I am trying to look ahead at the future of social media and what is inevitably just around the corner. On a daily basis, social platforms are adding and subtracting features, merging with one another, and moving into loosely related industries. The plethora of consumers today who predominantly or even entirely access social sites with their mobile devices is one example of a massive shift in the industry that seemingly happened without anyone batting an eyelid. I think that by enrolling in this class, I am hoping to be less like I have been in the past, which was merely being a follower of what everyone else is doing with social media, and more proactive in my search for the most recent happenings and developments in the industry. This desire is only multiplied because of my interest in continuing to expand my business. When I first began using a business page on Facebook to promote my organization, Facebook was allowing most posts made by these business pages to be seen by those that had “liked” the page. Nowadays, this is far from the case. Facebook has dramatically changed their algorithms so that certain types of posts are more likely to “reach” users. Sometimes, a page owner such as myself has no option other than paying Facebook to show the post to more of my target audience. By taking this class, I hope to be even more on top of changes such as these in the world of social media and be a part of the forefront of the early movers.