The Final Countdown: Concluding Thoughts on Social Media & Digital Business

Looking back to the first blog post about my initial thoughts on social media, I find it funny that I was initially a little scared to take this class because of the constant flow of tweets, blog posts, and comments.  In hindsight, I’m extremely happy that I broke away from the standard electives that are available to MSA students and took a class that explored the ever-evolving business environment and how the impact of social and digital media is stronger than ever.  One of my favorite things about this course was its versatility.  The weekly classes were rarely the same, and I loved how if there was an important news development going on in the world, Professor Kane provided the flexibility to factor that into our discussions.  There were many focuses throughout the semester that I wouldn’t have been able to study in-depth without taking #IS6621, so I wanted to highlight several topics that really stood out to me.


One of the most engaging homework assignments and class discussions of the semester was Jon Ronson’s Ted Talk on virality and online shaming.  He told the story of Justine Sacco, a senior director of a large company, who tweeted a tasteless, racist joke about Africa right before hopping on a plane.  Before her flight landed, she was being ridiculed, insulted, and essentially torn apart over the internet.  Her life would take a dramatic turn for the worse as she became the number one worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and she would end up losing her job for a foolish mistake because of the amazing social media phenomenon of virality.  While it is nearly impossible to predict what goes viral, and there are certainly positive stories that go viral as well (such as the Gainesville Police Department playing basketball with kids who were “making too much noise”), it teaches a valuable lesson to present yourself in a proper and professional manner on social media because there is no limiting who may ultimately see what you post.

Another point I wanted to highlight is that I think I’m obsessed with the concept of virtual reality.  While I’m not exactly sold that the positives outweigh the negatives (simply because I don’t want sitting at home with a VR headset to replace genuine, human interaction), I can’t deny that the technology is fascinating.  Between VR companies partnering with LiveNation to bring concerts to your living room, or football coaches giving their quarterbacks the chance to study live defenses through a VR headset in a classroom, the opportunities are endless.  The VR Experience exhibit at this year’s SXSW Festival and Conference really opened the eyes of consumers who may not have been entirely sold on the concept.  The reality is that these devices will become a prominent part of the lives of many in the near future.

Throughout the last four months or so, it has been crystal-crystal clear how quickly the social media landscape is changing.  Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have all gone through substantial changes.  For Instagram and Twitter, one word sums it up: algorithms.  Love them or hate them, they have played a large role in your favorite social media platforms in the past and will continue to play a more predominant role heading into the future.  While many do not like the updates, these two platforms are using advanced analytics to determine what people want to see, what they don’t want to see, and how to provide an optimal service.  In terms of Snapchat, many believe that the company strayed away from a good thing in an attempt to make the app more integrated and functional.  However, once again, many people are averse to change, so this may be a natural instinct instead of truly assessing the changes and then judging the product.  All three of these companies have experienced immense levels of success in the past, so before we write these changes off as steps backwards (I’m included in the group of skeptics toward these changes), let’s give them a chance to prove that they truly know what the consumer wants.

One of the main reasons I took #IS6621 was to learn how to apply the advantages of social and digital media to a business setting in order to both enhance my professional career and help the people around me.  This class has certainly exceeded expectations.  It has also taught me to use the social media resources around me to my advantage.  Instead of senselessly scrolling through my Twitter timeline out of boredom, I find myself actively searching for news stories and current events to share with classmates and peers.  I definitely enjoyed this class, and would recommend both the course and Professor Kane to any student who plans on entering the business world, with its constantly evolving social and digital media presence.

5 comments

  1. Nice post. I actually end up having alot of MSAs take this course. When I asked them why once, the reply was that “we get one non-accounting elective, so I want to take the least accounting course I could find.” You and your colleagues have always been great participants in the course, so I’m glad you keep coming back! VR seems to be a recurring theme in these final posts, so it will be certainly interesting to see what happens on that front.

  2. ajsalcetti · ·

    Nice post and nice takeaways. The last point really resonated in that anyone who is entering business world should take a class like this as social media is impacting and infiltrating everything, even the old fashioned brick and mortar. I was having a discussion with a friend today and he said something to the extent of well not all industries are techie so not all need this. I challenged him to find me an industry that isn’t being infiltrated, if not fully evolved, from social media and technology. His answer: Steel. I reluctantly agreed, but the point was received and he agreed back that most industries are affected and many rewritten – pharma and biotech, financial services and fintech, energy and renewables. We’ll see where it takes us, but you are spot on in that twitter and instagram etc aren’t just platforms to scroll through out of boredom but in fact powerful marketing tools personally and professionally.

  3. I really liked that you used your last post to highlight your favorite areas of interest from the course. I agree with you about VR and am just as curious to see where it goes in the future. You did a great job recommending the course at the end and tying social media to the business world. It is easy to look at social media as a stream of “hello world, today for breakfast I had pancakes” posts or mindless personality quizzes, but you do an excellent job of tying its importance and value to the business world. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post.

  4. I agree with the above comment that it was interesting to hear what you personally found to be the most interesting takeaways from the semester. Social media adoption is certainly affected by people’s general resistance to change, but I feel like there are also a lot of societal pressures and network affects that largely influence how we react to changes such as those made by Twitter and Instagram. I wonder how receptive the general public will be to virtual reality, as the widespread use of VR would be a significant change to the way we do things. There is the potential for VR to affect so many different industries. On the smaller scale, it was nice to hear how this class has specifically changed the way you interact with social media. Very nice final post!

  5. Great job highlighting some of the most positive aspects of social media and new technology. We spent a lot of time in class talking about negative social media stories or things that went wrong on social, so it’s nice to see that so many of my classmates still remain optimistic about social media and the future of digital business. I too hope that virtual reality does not replace reality completely, but it will be interesting to see how this technology develops as it has a lot of potentially useful applications.

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