My least favorite question on the first day of a class is “What are your expectations for this course?” or “What do you expect to learn this semester?” I find myself quickly flipping through the syllabus and course description to see what the professor thinks this should be. When asked this for IS6621, my main expectations were to learn how businesses can leverage social media, how the different platforms are used, how companies are using the tools creatively, how companies can make disastrous mistakes, and how I can use it as more than just a source of entertainment. Although I can say that I did learn more about all of these topics, the class covered much more than I could have ever expected. Here are some insights and reflections on my time in IS6621.
What Stayed the Same:
Only a few things stayed the same from when I started this course. One of these items is my dislike of posting to Twitter. I had made an account in high school, but soon deleted it because I never had the desire to tweet. Although I was more motivated through this class, I’ve decided that I am just not someone who enjoys constantly posting content, and will most likely stop once this class is over. Additionally, before this class, I had ideas about how important it was for companies to be digitally and socially mature. The material we covered only further confirmed the extreme importance of companies being online and monitoring their digital presence. Lastly, from a user perspective I have experienced the frustration and annoyance when changes are made to my beloved social media sites. To add to this knowledge, I have now learned that the people behind it are well aware of these reactions, and recognize that changes must be made very carefully. After experiencing it on the user side, it was interesting to also learn about it from the producer’s side.
Although a few things stayed the same, this class changed many of my ideas and opinions of social media and digital business. Coming into the class, I had a narrow idea of what social media entailed. I used to think of it as just the typical platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. My ideas of social media changed after learning from the Clay Shirky video that the “Reply All” feature is considered the first use of social media. This broadened my idea of social media; I realized that any media that includes the social group can be considered social media. This led me to conclude in my presentation that the AirBnB website has become its own social media site. Another thing that changed was my perceived usefulness of Twitter. As I mentioned, I only used it for a few weeks in high school before giving up. Although I still do not like to post much, I now have a better appreciation of the platform as a news source. I have really enjoyed reading all of the articles my classmates have posted and learning about breaking news almost immediately.
What Surprised Me:
Through the readings and presentations, I also learned a lot that surprised me.Although I knew that business were becoming more digital, I was shocked to learn about companies that are now 100%, completely digital! I was fascinated by Ashley’s presentation on virtual companies; especially by all of the features of the programs they use (most importantly the virtual water cooler!). Another topic that surprised me was Lauren’s presentation about the digital afterlife. I had never considered what happens to people’s digital assets once they pass away. It was really cool to learn about the available options.
What Scared Me:
Amidst all of the interesting and surprising things I learned in this class, I also learned plenty that scared me. It was a wake-up call to learn about all of the data and information that is being collected about us. Our digital presence is an easy way for companies to collect infinite amounts of data. It was frightening to learn about how this information can be used and how companies can better target consumers through it. Another thing that scared me was Jeremy’s presentation on privacy issues. It was crazy to learn about what we are agreeing to when we “sign” the Terms of Service and Agreement on Facebook. Lastly, we heard many examples of both companies and individuals making disastrous mistakes on social media. It is scary to see how quickly things can spread and how an unintended tweet has the power to drastically change a person or company’s entire image.
What Interested Me:
Something that never failed to interest me was the wide variety of uses for social media and digital business. Each class, people presented on their interests and passions, and social media played a role in all of them. This really emphasized how omnipresent social media is in our lives, and how this presence is only increasing. I was also interested to learn about how technology is contributing to a new marketplace of collaborative consumption, user generated content, and crowd-sourcing. It was so interesting to learn how companies have successfully incorporated this model and how this new business model relies heavily on trust.
In conclusion, I learned so much more in this class than I ever expected. Through articles, videos, special guests, presentations, and Twitter discussions, I gained a broad and in-depth understanding of social media and digital business. Despite how much I learned, I also recognize that social media and digital business is a constantly changing aspect of our lives. I am excited to follow along as it continues to change, while being able to apply concepts and lessons we learned in this class to the future of social media!