The word I associate most closely with social media is connection. I convinced my parents to let me have a Facebook account in 7th grade by arguing that an account would let me stay connected to my older siblings in college and my cousins who lived all over the country. Although that was not the complete truth, arguing that it was the cool thing to do wasn’t going to get me anywhere with my parents. Years later, social media in general is still an easy solution to staying connected and up to date with my network of friends and family. I am able to stay in contact with people I have met while traveling, friends from camp, my host family from Argentina, and classmates from elementary schools all thanks to sites like Facebook and Instagram. From “happy birthday” posts to shared Pinterest boards to snap stories on Snapchat – social media lets users voice their opinions, express interests, and curate an online presence. Beyond people, social media serves as a way to engage with businesses, institutions, groups, and learn about events. Widely adopted by people in all generations, social media continues to grow and influence our lives and interactions.
The great infusion of social media in our daily lives makes this course such a relevant area of study. This course intrigued me because of prevalence of social media in society and constantly evolving field of digital business. I am interested in learning more about digital tools and how they are developed and implemented. More specifically, I am looking forward to learning more about the following topics and am eager to discuss them in class.
- Social Media and Digital Innovation for Businesses
Having an online presence is practically mandatory for any business today. Besides having a traditional site, businesses can engage with customers through social media. Companies hire consultants to help create an ideal online presence and gauge ways to improve engagement with customers. In regards to digital innovation, I am interested in learning how companies integrate new methods and innovations as well as the development process. Certain industries are keen on adopting new technologies, but many traditional and large companies can have a difficult time integrating new methods and innovations into their existing ways and infrastructure. With all the new development of online engagement for both personal and business use, traditional regulation struggles to keep up, which creates a whole different issues regarding laws.
The flowchart below advises on how to target advertisements on Facebook.
- Data Collection
I am really interested in learning more about the information companies are able to collect through social media. Everything we post, like, view, etc is documented – which can be interesting from the perspective of businesses, but can also be invasive for consumers. The wealth of data can provide businesses with very specific insights into a consumer’s habit. Occasionally I am caught off guard by how catered my Facebook or Instagram advertisements are. Additionally, I am interested in learning more about the analytics business use the most. Each business has its preferred and relevant metrics, but I’d like to know which ones are broadly used and how companies determine which metrics to focus on the most.
- How Social Media Sites Cater to Mass Audiences
I think there are obvious ways in which some sites cater to different preferences such as customizability, targeted advertising, and offering some control over interactions. Users can create profiles that reflect their interests, promote messages of their choosing, and control what they see. Even with these different options there still seems to be audience segmentation. Each generation has different dominant characteristics that drive preferences and habits. Some social media sites like Snapchat are usually associated with a younger audience overall, and some sites target specific groups like college students, such as Yik Yak when it was first introduced.
This question of development is addressed in Margaret Stewart’s TED talk, “How Giant Websites Design for You and a Billion Others Too.” She discusses how websites change and tweak small tools to best suit the end user and in doing so a lot of thought, research, and time are invested. Social media companies really strive to understand their users likes and dislikes because users are highly sensitive to change. Changes to sites can be meet with both praise (i.e. the ability to zoom on Instagram) and criticism (i.e. Instagram creating stories that imitated Snapchat’s snapstories).
The chart below shows the distribution of demographic composition across a handful of social media sites. However, the youngest group included is ages 18-24. I think if it included a 12-18-age category it might look a little different, especially for Snapchat and Instagram.
My social media experience has been so far positive and I am looking forward to learning more about specific features in this course. In a world where connections carry so much weight, social media continues to make it easier to create and maintain connections.