Have I really been on Facebook for a decade?

I remember when I activated my Facebook page and joined the online social media world. I was a senior in college and had just been accepted to the Elon University class of 2007. At the time, Facebook was only open to those with a “.edu” email address. While it would soon be opened to all, this was my first chance to see what all my older peers were talking about. My goal was to connect with other accepted students, and hopefully find someone who was not a psychopath to be my freshman roommate. I was mesmerized at the possibilities this new website opened up. I could communicate with anyone with an account, no matter where in the world they were. Their profile provided a snapshot into their life and was basically an online personality summary.

  My first Facebook profile picture in 2006

It’s now less than 10 years later and it’s hard to believe how much I personally take this inter-connectivity for granted, and how I often don’t even think of my social media interactions as social. For instance, I don’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant or booked a hotel without making sure they were at least four star rated on Grubhub or TripAdvisor. I have grown to trust the ratings of faceless peers more than any Zagat ratings or travel guidebooks. Social media has been a tool to find a job, sell a table, find a roommate and raise money for charity. Without it, I would have a much harder time keeping up with my friends of family across the globe. While I wouldn’t classify myself as a social media fanatic, I definitely use it quite a lot and understand its importance.

From a business perspective, the pervasiveness of social media is disrupting business and creating new opportunities both from a consumer facing perspective and internally within organizations. From a consumer facing perspective, social media allows businesses to connect more personally with consumers in a much more organic way, get involved in conversations they would not normally be involved in and have content that goes viral and is shared organically (and for free!). At my organization, using social media helps us connect with a broad audience of consumers who already have an emotional connection with the brand in order to continue to maintain and strengthen that connection.

Internally, Social Media is a great collaborative tool for an organization. Clearly, email is the most widely used example (first insight from this class is that email is social media!). The reply all feature allows for information to reach large groups all at once regardless of where they are across the globe. In addition, a number of other tools can really help people in organizations collaborate. In my organization, I have found BOX, an online cloud storage provider to be extremely effective. Rather than just a place to dump files, people are able to make comments, share links directly to files that would be too large to send via email, and track changes and edits across versions of a document. The comment feature, as simple as it sounds, has been a major boost for my company. This has allowed us to track approvals and feedback on advertisements, giving us an archive that we can go back and refer to versus digging through thousands of email messages. I’ve also found instant messaging as a great tool to ask quick questions and stay in contact when in person or over the phone is not an option.

Image result for box logo

For all the positives of social media, there is definitely a darker side and a potential for individuals or businesses to get themselves into trouble quickly and on a wide scale. Comments meant for an individual or a personal group can easily get blown out of proportion and spark nationwide conversation and news cycles. Reputations can get ruined, people can get fired from their jobs and families can be broken because of one Tweet. Similarly, in inserting themselves into conversations as they happen and evolve, companies are forced to loosen their rigid structures and give more autonomy across the organization. This opens them up to the risk of messages going out that may not have been approved if they had gone through the historical, formal process. As such, individuals need to be highly educated on these risks and drilled on the importance of balancing being timely and relevant to taking into consideration all potential risks.

I’m looking forward to expanding my understanding of social media, digital business and implications for the future. In a single class I’ve already come to understand that my idea of the scope of “social media” was extremely limited and that means that social media is even more important than what I thought it was going in last Thursday. As a marketer, I think it is essential that I have a good understanding of social media and digital business regardless of my current role. As I look to progress in my career I will without a doubt be expected to understand social media’s role in the media mix and future applications.

6 comments

  1. Nice post! I assume you graduated Elon in 2007, not 2017! :) I’ve tried both Dropbox and Google Drive, but not Box (although I follow the founder on Twitter). Interesting to hear the impact its having on your company. Wish others embraced those types of tools as well. I’m surprised at how “old school” some companies still are.

  2. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great blog post! I feel the use of social media when buying something is a habit nearly all of us can relate to. I don’t remember the last time I ate a restaurant with a Yelp rating lower than 3.5 or the last time I bought anything (shoes, electronics, etc) without spending multiple tabs on various forums, subreddits, and Youtube reviews. I know that, for me at least, this has just caused me to procrastinate my purchases. And I was in the same “narrow” mindset as to what constituted social media, not realizing that websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor fall under this umbrella. I hope to read more from you!

  3. Really enjoyed your blog post for this week. I could not agree more with a lot of the points that you touched upon. I have never used BOX before or even heard of it but it is definitely something that I am going to look into for the future. I feel that there are even more aspects to social media than we know about, and its intriguing how each day I learn more and more. That is something I enjoy about this class and everyone’s posts, that we can all learn and share with each other new finds each week. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ate at a restaurant without looking up the menu on yelp, with the reviews and even at pictures of possible items I may order. I also do this with hotels and movies before checking them out. I love to hear peoples reviews and as much as I hate to admit it I definitely let them change my opinions.

  4. I enjoyed your post. I also can’t remember that last time I went out to eat or booked a trip without checking the ratings online. It is strange to think that at one point in time a person would book something as involved as a vacation from the recommendation of a single travel agent, who may have been receiving commissions for making the recommendation. When I think of the function of ratings I think of them as useful information that helps me to avoid bad experiences. The other aspect of ratings that I frequently overlook is that ratings also expose us to the “best of the best” destinations. Before ratings there may have been access to information on a few good destinations, now we have access to information about all of the best destinations in a specific location.

  5. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    This was a great read! It’s hard to fathom that Facebook was exclusive to those with a “.edu” email address during its inception, since now all social media powerhouses push agendas of inclusivity. I also definitely resonate with your point on “faceless peers,” as I do the same. I turn to my most trusted advisor, Yelp, almost every time I go out to grab a bite. It’s become a part of me, and I use the word “Yelp” as a verb. BOX seems like a very promising tool— I’ve used Trello in the past. It functions similarly to BOX, and you can track deliverables and assign different roles to tasks along with sharing files. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your personal experiences as a marketer in the industry. Cheers!

  6. Liked the way you covered a lot of ground objectively on the pros, cons, and realities of SM. Using it internally inside a company is often overlooked a strength of SM. Didn’t know about BOX – thanks for sharing. I look forward to your objective viewpoint on future subjects. What do you think about shifting trends of power from the company to the consumer?

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