At the most profound level my relationship with social media must be described as a typical love-hate-relationship. I love getting lots of information and feeling connected with so many people, but I hate the never-ending stream of content that can often feel simply overwhelming. When I registered for the course I knew that my own social media skills were less than polished, especially for someone belonging to the millennial cohort. This is in itself the result of this strange relationship thing I’ve got going with social media.
I guess first and foremost, my hope for this course is to gain a better understanding of what drives the social media phenomenon, and how I can learn to love it, and thus use it more effectively. I know that digital media and all of its social aspects are here to stay, and that – if anything – it is going to become ever more powerful, especially as business is increasingly driving it. Therefore, (and it scares me that I’m writing these next few words) I know that to be a fully functional member of this modern-day society, I had better deal with my qualms and overcome the hate I feel for certain aspects of social media. I think ISYS6621 can give me useful insights into what my peers’ perspectives on social media are, how they use it, and how to strategically leverage these insights from a personal as well as business point of view. But first let me explain where my conflicting feelings about social media are coming from.
Let’s start with the love part. After graduating from high school in 2004, I moved to the United States to be an Au Pair. At that time it was exciting to be away from my family and friends, and focus on new friends. This included severing ties because no one then was using social media networks (what basic, nay, primitive versions existed back then), I’m not sure Skype had been invented, and ICQ (remember??) was a thing, which none of my family members knew how to use anyways. This worked great for the two years I spent as a nanny, but then in 2008 I moved to the U.S. permanently, and I knew email and telephone weren’t going to do it for me as I wanted to keep in touch with friends and family everywhere. Luckily, by that time there had been an explosion of digital media, and I’ve been using primarily video chats and Facebook to keep my loved ones in Germany, especially my parents, informed on what’s going on in my life, and see what they’re up to. In other words, I started living part of my life on Facebook and Skype to share it with people far away.
And for a long time that was as far as my social media use went, because I never saw the need for anything else. Of course, eventually LinkedIn would be added, as well as a few other networks and apps. Yet, I never became an early adopter of anything, and only started using social media once they’d crossed a critical threshold where enough of my friends and family were on it to make them useful (remember the network effect?).
I must admit, though, that I am in awe of how powerful and integral social media have become. Whenever a big event happens, millions can participate, comment, and share. Be it the ice bucket challenge or news about an earthquake or a political revolution, everything has become interactive and instant. Moreover, social media have begun to really move things in the world.
Another part I love about digital and social media is the wealth of news I can get. It has become part of morning routine to first do a brief scan of digital news outlets, and (yes, I’ll admit) of Facebook so I can start day well informed and in the loop.
And this is also already where the hate part of the relationship with social media comes in. The “wealth” I just described so quickly becomes an overwhelming flood of content that I have not yet figured out how to master it. Since I started using twitter, it agitates me every time I look at my feed how much information there is that I could never possibly get through given the limited time I have. So what good is all that content, if I can’t even fully look at, let alone apprehend, it.
Similarly, it annoys me beyond words how we all have become slaves to our devices. So often I find myself glued to the screen of my smartphone when I know I should be paying attention to what’s happening around me. People have not learned how to appropriately detach themselves, especially when they are in situations where they should be paying attention to their fellow humans, rather than their droids.
Lastly, the power of digital business first freaked me out, then started to annoy me. After doing a search on Google for a product, then going to a physical store and buying the product, is there a way to tell Google that it can stop stalking me with ads for a product that I now already own, please?
Yet, I know as someone who is looking at a career in marketing I know that it will be part of my job to find ways to engage with consumers in ways they find useful and appealing, to leverage data and knowledge of those consumers to affect their buying behavior, and know how to use social media from a consumer as well as a seller’s perspective. So I know I have my work cut out for me, and I look forward to learning from my classmates and hopefully turn my relationship with social media around.
Stay tuned – I’ll report back at the end of the semester!