Being born in the 80s, I had the benefit of watching technology unfold before my eyes. I remember a life before the internet, the transition to dial-up, an obsession with AOL Instant Messenger, and a fascination with WIFI when it rolled out. The technology world was moving quickly but in spaced out massive steps (at least in my underaged mind). Now it the world is flying by but with millions of tiny steps. It’s near impossible to keep up with each new application, system, social network, etc. I never thought I would feel like such a grandma at age 30.
My inherent aversion to social media came as a surprise as computers and technology were never difficult for me, I thought I had a “knack” for technology. It was weird that I was more of a detractor when it came to social media and being constantly connected. While I signed up for Facebook my freshman year of college, I must have been one of the last people to get an iPhone, and a late adopter of instagram. In my mind, why would someone need the internet on their phone? People only need phones for calling each other… right? In case you’re wondering, I am completely dependent on my phone now and obsessed with instagram. Being able to Google anything that comes to mind is a dream come true. Now that I am connected I could never go back.
My initial thought on social media was that it was a hobby that just had no appeal to me. Why be connected to people online when you could call them, text, them, actually hang out with them? To me it seemed like a waste of time. I felt like my feelings were being validated when The League did an episode where one character created an offline social network on a corkboard to mock the idea of online social networks. It poked fun at the idea that people were connecting online when they could connect in real life. I wasn’t alone in my feelings toward social media!
Let’s be honest, I do use facebook, instagram, and snapchat. The amount of time I spent on facebook made me feel like I was wasting my time so I deleted the app from my phone over a year ago. Although I had instant gratification, I still check facebook at least once a day via Google. It stopped me from getting notifications and checking multiple times a day but it didn’t eliminate my connection from social media. My desire to be connected made me realize I wanted to feel close to people I didn’t talk to every day, week, month etc. These types of social media allow me to feel connected to friends from college and high school despite the fact that I don’t always have the time to catch up over the phone.
It wasn’t until a few years after I started working that I realized the other powers of social media. Social media was no longer just for posting pictures, friending strangers, and stalking ex-boyfriends/girlfriends. Consumers can now leverage social media to either praise or to slam companies. They have a massive hold over companies as they can publically support and launch a company’s success or they can complain and destroy a company’s reputation. The one to many communication abilities are powerful. It’s easy to share a strong opinion when you can hide behind a keyboard and share your thoughts with millions of people instantly. I didn’t have Twitter until I started this class so I asked around to some of my co-workers to ask if have and used Twitter. A couple people told me that they only tweet when they want to complain to airlines and that it usually worked. It seems so interesting that a media that started to share short thoughts now also has a strong focus on business and news
This semester, I hope to learn even more about the impacts and usage of social media beyond connecting between friends. I may never launch an online company completely supported by twitter, instagram, and Facebook. That doesn’t mean that these mediums don’t hold an important place in today’s business across all industries. Learning how social media can connect a business is so interesting. For example, consumer led “communities” where users can discuss trends, help each other, and find commonalities create support and a network affect that raises switches costs and creates benefits for the company.
Social media isn’t going away any time soon. While I don’t think that everyone needs to jump on the bandwagon and make a living by blogging, it would be bad business to ignore the trend hoping it will go away. Understanding how digital can augment your business and which aspects are best suited for your strategy is key. Social media is definitely not a one size fits all solution.