Initial Thoughts on Social Media and Digital Business

As my alarm sounds at 7:15AM, I roll over to silence my phone and instinctively start scrolling through my notifications from Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and unlock my phone to read texts and emails. The process of catching up with these notifications takes about 15 minutes, and it’s not until 7:30AM when I actually leave my bed. At this point in my morning, I have successfully updated myself on today’s news, read any emails and newsletters that I subscribe to, and of course, received the brief of what my friends were doing last night from Instagram and Snapchat. The first part of my morning routine is critical – without digesting this information first thing in the morning, I leave my bed with the chance of being in the dark about world events, updates on my schedule for the day, and most importantly, what my high school boyfriend’s younger sister’s bestfriend did last night.
Digesting all the parts of a social world is quite the task. With so many resources for being “in the know” in all aspects of our lives, we feel somewhat responsible to keep in touch and up to date on all of the content constantly being pushed to our inboxes and feeds. Part of this responsibility, at least for me, comes from the fear of missing out on something big. This sense of responsibility can mean a lot of things, including distraction, wasted time, and even developing a sense of anxiety around our “image” on social media. While social media has a lot of implications for individuals, it also plays a larger role in our society.
With 20% of the world on Facebook, social trends and movements spread rapidly. Within minutes, videos and posts can receive thousands of views and comments, linking people from all over the world to content. The power of social media is not a new phenomenon, and I think it’s fair to assume many people recognize the power that we hold as individuals with social media accounts, and also the power of the platforms as a whole. Twitter has led to dozens of social movements, all with the use of simple hashtags. Facebook and LinkedIn create virtual networks, allowing us to connect with people from our past and meet people who might be able to help us in the future.
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Though social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have changed our present, I don’t think they will have the same impact on our future. These platforms have been revolutionary, but I believe we will soon have other socially-focused companies emerge to satisfy pain points consumers still have within the realm of social networks. While consumer-facing social companies have room to improve, I also believe that B2B companies will also be able to infiltrate the crowded space of selling social media tools to businesses. Throughout this semester, I hope to observe how startups within the social media and digital business space plan to disrupt the current sector.
As an Investment Partner on the Dorm Room Fund team, I am exposed to some really awesome student-entrepreneurs. Students from BC, Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, and other universities in the Boston area are emerging as top innovators, pushing to create products that will change the face of many sectors. This semester, I hope to study and learn from many of those entrepreneurs who want to change the face of social media, and those who aim to grow their own digital business. I have high expectations that this intersection of millennials and entrepreneurs will be able to successfully innovate these industries and create new platforms and products.
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There are still many pain points evident within the current state of social media. As Professor Kane points out in his article “One Size Does Not Fit All in Social Media”, the college demographic still does not have a dedicated social platform. Facebook is now infiltrated by younger siblings, parents, distant aunts, and other contacts that college students might not feel comfortable sharing content with. Snapchat satisfies some of the need, with most contacts being close friends of users. However, since the nature of the product is temporary and disappearing, it still does not fill the need that college students seek in a social media platform.
Many companies have been trying to make moves into the space, offering value that current incumbents have missed. Camarilla is a new platform that promotes the value of having a smaller number of connections, making the product more intimate and personal. Though I personally don’t use this product or know if it’s the next big platform, I do recognize college students’ push for smaller, more intimate ways to connect with groups. Whether its creating group messages through iMessage or GroupMe, or creating “finstas” to share more personal pictures on Instagram with a smaller, select group of followers, it’s clear there’s a need for a product like Camarilla.
I hope throughout this semester I will learn more about the social media space, and therefore become more capable of identifying compelling startups pitching to DRF. If there’s any room for innovation within the social media space, I believe bright college students will be able to recognize it and innovate accordingly. I look forward to hopefully meeting these entrepreneurs and with other DRF members, helping them move into a space ready for new players.

6 comments

  1. Great blog! I enjoyed readings this blog becasue it was incredibly well structured. The opening paragraph was extremely relatable and quickly grabbed my attention. I also appreciated the humorous angle. I then liked how the post quickly transitioned from a very micro and relatable opening to a macro view of how social media is working in the world. I was also very interested in the blogger’s viewpoints about the role social media will play in the future. Additionally, I too hope to, by the end up this course, be more able to identity the areas of a company where social media can add value.

  2. Nice post (I wish I had read it before we met today)! I do agree that Facebook isn’t necessarily going to be the dominant platform forever for all groups, but Facebook has done a remarkably good job at using its position to buy up competitors. Yes, Snapchat spurned their early offers (which has proven to be a good move, for the time being), but many others have decided to sell out to Facebook at an early stage.

  3. dabettervetter · ·

    I do the exact same thing every morning! It is spooky to think how attached we are to our phones – but also how incredible. Through one device we are instantly updated on news stories and the current events of our closest friends through minor acquaintances. Because of the high level of interconnectivity of the world we live in today – I am confident that social media space and the network of the internet is the perfect place for a startup. It seems these days that as 21st-century humans we value convenience, speed, and accuracy and “online” offers the best playing field for the three to intertwine. I am excited to see the future projects from the Dorm Room Fund that you find connect well to class!

  4. What a fun blog to read! I loved the way you wrote this post to capture attention before diving into the analysis. The early wake up is so true, while I was abroad, I set my alarm 30 mins before I had to get up in order to catch up on all my friends lives/nights in America. It is crazy how social media has the ability to change our behaviors so intensely. I completely agree with your analysis for the reasons why we are beginning to turn away from the big players in social media such as Facebook. As they are becoming overwhelming, with networks being too large, feeds being too packed to look through, they begin to drift away from their initial purpose of a personal social media network.

    It makes me question if these platforms are facing the negative externalities of network effects? Are they, in essence, becoming congested? As millennials and college-aged students, we want our social media to be simple and stripped of all these network complications. The only point I debate is, that as such platforms emerge and gain traction, the big players will buy them out. At this point in the game, I find that it will be difficult for any new platform to come close to the network of Facebook. But if Facebook or Instagram, were to buy out these new technologies and provide them as smaller features or options of a personalized, intimate, purposeful networks… now I’d be interested in that! Maybe in that case you can wake up at 7:25AM instead…

    1. You make a great point about the power of larger players to acquire new startups in the space! Facebook has done a great job of this with Instagram and WhatsApp, but as we see from the failed attempt to acquire Snapchat, large players will be at the mercy of the innovators’ willingness to be acquired.

  5. I loved reading your blog! I really like how you mentioned that it takes 15 minutes to get out of bed and how the responsibilities of reading the news of what is going on in the world as well as keeping up with friends’ whereabouts last night seem to weigh equally heavily because social media really can feel like a personal responsibility…it’s why so many people still shy away from creating Instagram accounts or Snapchat accounts so that they have one less thing to keep up with.

    I also learned a lot reading your blog – Dorm Room Fund sounds very cool and I had not heard of Camarilla prior to reading your post. I enjoyed hearing what it is that you are looking to get out of this class. It sounds like you will get a lot out of it. Great work!

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