My Social Media Journey: Then and Now (but not BuzzFeed Style)

I still remember when I received the invitation to join “Thefacebook” on April 1, 2005 and my wonder and awe as I discovered a world of “Facebook stalking,” imagining what my college experience would look like, and being able to re-connect with friends that had already moved away from Puerto Rico (where I grew up). Facebook had recently expanded access to select universities beyond Harvard and despite my initial hesitation to join another social network (RIP MySpace) – my friend’s warning, “if you are not on Facebook, you won’t exist at Harvard” was quite compelling.

During my college years, Facebook became the medium to connect with friends and share typical college experiences – like this public rant because one of my suite mates would never take out the trash:

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 5.43.42 PM

It was more of a distraction and a guilty pleasure – one that employers would ban from web browsers during summer internships and that I would de-activate during exam periods to minimize procrastination. Now, we don’t just use one medium – we use multiple, and we use each for a different purposes and often, audience (i.e. Twitter for news, Instagram to share #authentic artsy shots (a la Socality Barbie), and Facebook to share important announcements or experiences). We also often follow/friend different folks on these platforms to protect our privacy and set varying levels of reach for the type of content we create or that we want to be exposed to. Beyond connecting, social media platforms have given us the tools to, consciously or unconsciously, build our own personal brands and this trail will remain.

Then, Facebook was purely a social network and users were motivated by staying connected, satisfying their curiosity on what friends were up to, and seeking validation (or at least attention) on important decisions or event. Now, the motivations haven’t changed that much but social media has shifted from being a tool to a new way to connect. And for businesses – a new way to interact with consumers, influence their path to purchase and build brand loyalty.

It is not until I graduated that I realized the true power social media would gain –for businesses, marketing professionals and consumers, and I am sure this will continue to drastically change. At the early stages, companies would join all the latest platforms and send out consistent messages to “be active” on social. Then, they turned to metrics such as “Likes” and “Follows” to measure success and focused on driving these through contests and other types of incentives. Later, they would focus on customer engagement, and as they realized the level of investment required to manage each account successfully, many of these became inactive and companies became much more strategic about which platforms to be active on. We now know that when it comes to social, less can be more depending on the company’s priorities, who their target consumer is, and where/how they consume information. Still, it is amusing to see what users go through to liberate Twitter handle “squatters” that signed up and never sent out more than a few tweets.

Then, businesses, marketers and consumers had many questions – on privacy, on whether social media would be the next bubble and which platforms would last. Many of these questions remain, and as an aspiring brand manager these motivated me to take this course:

  • Who should manage a company’s social/digital presence? Should it be a dedicated team that is focused on digital, or the brand managers, in charge of setting the strategy for a brand? This could require re-defining organizational relationships and roles.
  • Which consumer touch points should be the priority and how can brands best leverage them?
  • How can companies gather user-generated content (UGC) and repurpose it in ways that feel authentic to a company/brand?
  • How can they make the product/package, retail, e-commerce, web, and social experience flow seamlessly?
  • How can customer service be taken to the next level by leveraging social tools?
  • What will be the next big platform and how can brands stand out early on?

As my social journey continues, my main expectations for the course are to be able to engage in these types of discussions and stay up to date on the latest tools and best practices. Most importantly – ensure that I remain a social “native” – not just in theory but in practice. I also hope to find a voice as a content creator. This is is my first attempt at blogging – let’s see how it goes.

3 comments

  1. Nicole,

    I loved your blog post and would like to thank you for sharing it. As I began reading the first few lines, I felt attached to continue. Putting in your personal life experiences made this blogpost more interesting. I loved your snapshot of communication between you and your suite mate. 10 years ago and you still have this post, exactly what social media is about: documenting memories. The example you gave of you deactivating Facebook at times of exams brought back to me memories of me doing the same. I thought it was only me, but its funny how all of us have now coped with not only one platform such as Facebook but many others simultaneously like Instagram, Twitter and much more. We have learnt to cope and these platforms are now parts of our lives. I really liked how you wrote your post from a brand manager’s point of view, because it is important for us to understand social media from many perspectives. Finally, all the questions you asked were questions we all would love to have answers to. They are questions that are relevant, and relate to the metrics, management and analytics standpoint of social media. Let’s hope we master all these concepts and understand well what social media is all about.

  2. Nicole — I found your personal experience and insight to be incredibly eye opening in two way. Unlike you and all of our fellow college classmates, I joined the Facebook network quite a bit later. I didn’t become a member of Facebook until 2012. I joined for the very same reasons as you, I wanted to stay in touch with my friends from high school as we all dispersed across the country to our respective colleges. However by the time I joined Facebook, it had already established itself as one of the leading social media platforms. Companies were already promoting themselves on Facebook, but many were still struggling to quantify and analyze their social media presence. I think we have both seen Facebook evolve by playing into company’s needs when it comes to data analytics. Secondly, your insight on the corporate side of social media was also very interesting to me because the questions you listed helped me define exactly what companies are trying to accomplish via social media. As Acyl said above, they are all relevant for managers trying to measure and analyze metrics across all the social media platforms. I hope we will answer these questions and more during this course.

  3. Hi Nicole, what I enjoyed most about your post was the journey (which I experienced along with you on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean) from The Facebook as a fun place to keep in touch with people you don’t get to see all the time, basically frolicking carelessly about, to a place where we now need to be much more considerate of our online behavior because it has become so much more complicated and commercialized.
    Talk about a change when you consider that it was once a tool only for college students, and now it has become one of the most powerful commercial machines out there, where, as you aptly put it, we as marketers “need to find a voice as a content creator”. Knowing how far-reaching Facebook and other social media have become, how all-encompassing, and deeply penetrating into everyday life, it is a great time to step up our game and learn how to go beyond telling our friends and family about our recent weekend trip, and create compelling stories for brands we love.
    I share many of the goals you’ve set for yourself for this course, and as I’m writing this, I realize that I definitely must not only learn to be a better content creator, but also a better consumer of content, i.e., learn what content to pay attention to, how to contextualize it, react to it, and the list goes on.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

%d bloggers like this: