It’s hard to believe that this semester is already over, and as I expected going into the course, I learned a bunch about social media. I think that if I were to break down some of the key takeaways from this course, here’s what they would be:
1) Social Media is Way More than a Marketing Tool
I think going into the course, my opinion on social media was that it was dominantly a tool utilized by marketers and advertisers. Which is somewhat true, as most of the monetization on these sites revolves around advertising. However, these platforms offer so much more functionality that goes well beyond the realm of advertising. I anticipated this course to be centered on how companies are utilizing social media within the marketing realm, and although we did do some work on this, the breadth of our work stretched well-beyond.
I think one thing that was made abundantly clear to me is that a lot of the social platform’s value lies in the networks it creates. This class broke down the connections and functionalities of digital networks in the first couple weeks, which started my process of re-thinking what social media really is. Adding in material on how the information flows through the network allowed me to fully grasp the significance of these networks. And then finally, taking a deeper look into the data that these networks house really drove home the value that these platforms create.
Even the student presentation surrounding the “Log-In with Facebook” functionality introduced me to new way of thinking about this data. Originally I only thought this functionality was valuable for a company if they were able to post on users Facebook accounts. Now, it seems pretty funny because they are telling the user explicitly that they won’t post on your account, and are still getting incredible value. This opened my eyes to how valuable the information they are getting is. These networks are warehouses for powerful user-data, that could not be obtained elsewhere, ultimately proving the value that these networks hold for those who use them efficiently.
2) Impressions of Twitter
Entering into this class, I had limited experience with fully utilizing Twitter. I used it, probably like a lot of you guys, to Tweet out things that I thought were funny and follow friends. I now understand that Twitter is used for so much more than this. It really is different than any other social media platform and cannot be compared to platforms like Facebook. Where as Facebook and other social media platforms are about connecting friends, I think Twitter’s true purpose revolves around the spread of information, distinguishing itself from its competitors. (This was my favorite article of the semester that we talked about briefly in class)
In the beginning of the class, we talked about why Twitter is “failing” according to the financial world. This sparked a lot of debate whether Twitter has a user problem or a monetization problem, as well as talking about it in the context of its competitors. However, the one thing that I took away from this discussion was that Twitter is valuable! Although it may not be valuable for its shareholders, the functionality of the platform is incredibly powerful.
We seemed to conclude that a lot of Twitter’s stock price reduction is due to the fact that it cannot “become the next Facebook,” which makes sense because the two are incredibly different entities. Although Twitter may not be able to monetize its users as well as its competitors, Twitter has the best data transmission functionality in the world. We see it week after week as we discuss a breaking news story that was first heard on Twitter. This incredibly powerful functionality will always be relevant for our modern society, which is why I’ve left this class with the impression that Twitter will still be around (in some capacity) in the next 20 years.
3) Impressions of the Alternative Teaching Style
I really enjoyed this class-style and think that it fits this topic of study incredibly well. Because the social media landscape is constantly changing, we always had a lot to talk about in class. In the beginning I was skeptical of always having something new and interesting to talk about in class, but I was happily surprised when, as Prof Kane said, there were always news stories to talk about related to social media. I don’t think it is possible to replicate this structure for other classes because other industries aren’t changing as much as this one is. Overall, I think the subject of this course is perfect for this new-age teaching style.
Additionally, I felt that the conversations I had with my classmates were some of the deepest and most meaningful ones I’ve had in the classroom setting, and a lot of them were online. Twitter really allowed us to have legitimate conversations with our classmates, which I really enjoyed. I was able to discuss important topics with my classmates that go well-beyond relating solely to social media. Sometimes this led to some passionate back-and-forth between classmates but it was all in the spirit of healthy debate and it was really great to get a sense for people’s true beliefs. By having this constant conversation with classmates, I was able to get a sense for who people are, and it definitely made for better conversations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this unique class and I thought it fostered some of the best conversation I’ve had in a classroom. Additionally, I really liked that we often taught ourselves a lot of material. With the student presentations and #D conversation, we all were able to educate our peers on specific topics, which made it interesting because it allowed for a huge amount of material to be talked about, which wouldn’t have been discussed otherwise.
I really enjoyed taking this class with everyone! To everyone who’s graduating, good luck and I’ll see you at the reunion.