7th Time’s the Charm

Social Media and Digital Business has been one of the most rewarding classes I’ve taken at BC. This class, much like the semester, has flown by. As a senior reflecting on this course, it’s difficult not to reflect on one of my last semesters at BC as well. One of things that I continue to appreciate about BC is its ability to push me outside of my comfort zone, enabling growth through challenge and adversity. A degree from Boston College definitely carries a lot of weight, but in reality you get the education that you work for, and this course is the epitome of that culture. So thank you Professor Kane and all my classmates for a great semester and an awesome experience.

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Initial Thoughts

In my first blog, I wrote about social media consumers and producers. I painted a narrow sighted picture of social media based on my experiences and what I thought were the main habits of users on these platforms. To recap, consumers are people who use social media to stay engaged with viral content and breaking news without actively joining the conversation. Producers are accounts that generate content and actively contribute to conversations either by jumping on trends or starting them. In the middle of these two extremes are average social media users who keep this culture alive. They absorb content and engage with it, pushing viral information to their friends and families. My first blog was directionally correct, but it over-simplified the extremely complex world of social media. It ignored the difficulties associated with successful social media strategies and underestimated the way that social media is propagating changes in society.

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My Takeaways

After a semester of constant conversation, a few key topics have stuck with me.

Virality

In my opinion, the viral nature of social media is both its most exciting and dangerous attribute. Because things move so fast on these platforms they are reactionary by nature, no one can really be ahead of the curve because the curve is exponential. Here are my main business takeaways regarding virality:

Don’t insert your brand where it doesn’t belong

 Just because a viral topic is generating buzz it doesn’t mean that you have to join the conversation. If you are trying to build a successful social media presence keep your focus on topics that are relevant to your brand and meet your goals.

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Mob Mentality

When things get ugly on social media, they usually go from bad to worse in a heartbeat. It’s dangerously easy to follow the momentum of the crowd and contribute to the trend that is emerging. However, when confronted by the mob there are a couple of things to remember:

There is always someone on the other side. When social media is taking a stance on an issue there is always someone in the shadow of the viral spotlight. Their life might never be the same when the dust settles. Put yourself in their shoes before joining the mob.

Be careful when opposing the mob. Social media has a tendency to rally behind a cause, but users on these platforms also tend to attack the opposition of their cause. Taking a divisive stance will likely generate a lot of negative attention; make sure you can handle the backlash before taking a stance.

Stay impartial. Don’t take a stance before hearing from both sides of the argument. Social media can very quickly be dominated by one distinct opinion, but this is a dangerous theme that needs to be addressed. Don’t simply join the mob because it’s infectious. Think about the issue.

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The Future of Work

A change is coming. In our lifetime, a widespread societal change will occur that affects the way that our culture works and perceives work. The time is coming when machines make mundane jobs obsolete. Truck drivers, warehouse laborers, and phone operators are likely to be the people who feel the effects of this change first. But it will most likely, eventually, affect us all. According to Andrew McAfee, that time is rapidly approaching because of the improvements to our machines. They are displaying skills like understanding, speaking, hearing, writing, seeing, and answering while still acquiring new abilities.

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With fewer jobs, what does the future of work look like? For starters, it appears that a society will emerge where smart and creative people will have more free time to explore their passions and innovate. Although this is great for smart and creative people, it will create a gap between college-educated entrepreneurs and lower income workers who will likely be the first people to lose their jobs. With this gap, the government will likely have to step in to help create balance. This government aid will likely come in the form of increased educational funding and the introduction of a minimum guaranteed salary.

However, if the introduction of autonomous cars has taught us anything it’s that innovation is all around us. Social media gives us a platform to seek out emerging trends and engage with them. The challenges that machine intervention will create will also inspire innovation. Our solutions to some of the world’s most difficult challenges aren’t available yet. But social media gives us a platform to talk about the issues and encourage innovation. The future will bring challenges, but humans will continue to promote innovation.

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The Future of Social Media 

This year has been extremely eventful for social media, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat constantly in the news. As this class comes to an end I want to offer my final thoughts in the form of predictions for the future of social media.

  1. It’s here to stay. Social media has deeply engrained itself in our society. We have become accustomed to the convenient conversation forum and it isn’t going anywhere.
  2. It will continue to evolve. The social component of these platforms is beginning to transcend its creators. These platforms will continue to innovate and in my opinion will look completely different in 5 years. New features will be created and the popular ones will be adopted by all the main platforms. Just as Facebook and Instagram are adopting the core concepts of Snapchat.
  3. It will join the workplace. Many businesses already have internal communication platforms. With the millennial generation becoming a larger part of the workforce social media for internal business communication will feel like a no brainer. Companies that don’t adopt these platforms will be at a noticeable disadvantage.
  4. Social media platforms will become media companies. Not all of them, but the largest ones. Facebook and Twitter are currently struggling with fake news controversies. As they continue to grow they’ll face a moment where they long for the credibility that is given to companies like Google. As Facebook continues to compete with the world’s largest tech companies they’ll eventually declare themselves a media company to gain an edge. When Facebook gives in, Twitter will follow suit.
  5. Mobile will continue to dominate. Wearable tech and mobile phones will continue to dominate the social media space. With an emphasis on the introduction of wearable tech. These technologies, including smart watches, smart glasses, virtual reality, and augmented reality, will provide a whole new market for social media companies and it will change the way we engage with these platforms and each other.

 

Thanks for a great semester #IS6621.

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4 comments

  1. skuchma215 · ·

    Wow, awesome conclusion. I couldn’t agree more that this course gives you what you put into it. By engaging classmates and news sites through twitter and researching for blogs, I feel like I know more about not just social media but the all aspects of tech industry. Two of the key take aways you stated, automation and mob mentality, happened to be two of my favorite parts class. What happened to Justine Sacco is terrifying and it shows how mob mentality can have devastating results on someone’s life. This class has gotten me excited about the changes social media and increased connectivity will bring in the coming years to our everyday lives. I think this conclusion really articulates that sentiment as well.

  2. wfbagleyiii · ·

    Very well done. I think you are absolutely right that social platforms will become media companies. It’s the status they seem to yearn for. I suppose with that being said, what then will the barrier to entry be for upcoming platforms to then compete? It’s such an interesting point, and we’re seeing it play out already.

    You hit a great point on virality too. For someone who has been in situations professionally where a brand gets dragged into a fight it doesn’t need, I couldn’t agree more. Social media affords companies the opportunity to be instant in a response which is a good and a bad thing – if you stay quiet during a crisis, then it gets noticed.

    This was an awesome recap – a thought leadership piece for sure.

  3. Nice conclusion. The mob mentality has emerged more as a theme this semester than in past ones. Good observation.

  4. Aditya Murali · ·

    Awesome post Kevin. You covered a lot of key concepts here and what stands out to me are your predictions about Facebook and Twitter. I absolutely agree that these platforms will become media companies. Since they already include the social aspect, funneling news through Facebook and Twitter is the best way to guarantee a response on a platform that people are already familiar with. I realize I have never once commented on any article or video I’ve seen on CNN’s own website or Buzzfeed’s own website, but I would like, comment, and tag my friends in the same article if it’s one Facebook or Twitter. This means there is so much potential for these giant social media sites to legitimize themselves as players in the news industry.

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