When I first signed up for the Social Media and Digital Business course, my own interaction and definition of Social Media was surface level. In my own life, Social Media was defined by sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat as a way to include others in our lives and vice versa. However, over the course of the class, I learned how Social Media platforms play an integral part of digital business, and without Social Media, these sites and mechanisms of business would not be possible. Furthermore, Social Media has changed the way we currently think and will think in the future.
The first important notion we learned in Professor Kane’s social media class that really touched on the power of social media is the sharing economy. In current state, rather than making purchases, sharing economy has allowed us to “borrow” goods from others. Sharing economy is defined as “economic and social activity involving online transactions.” A study completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers states that sharing economy would lead to spending in travel, car, finance, staffing, and streaming, would lead to “$335 billion by 2025, which would be about 50% of the total spending in these areas.” Sites that fall within this category include Uber and Airbnb.
An underlying requirement for these types of sites to succeed is trust. Through the sharing economy and, namely because of Social Media, we have increased our trust towards total strangers. These sites allow us to feel like we know these strangers on a personal level. For example, growing up, we were always told by our parents to never get into the car with strangers. In fact, this is probably the first rule we ever had to follow. Yet, Uber, an example of a sharing economy, is a platform that solely DEPENDS ON getting into a car with a stranger. Regardless of this, the platform is widely successful.
Recently, Forbes published an article on the “Pioneers” of the Sharing Economy. Some highlights:
DogVacay: “A place where dog owners can leave their dog with a host who will take car of the dog.”
Spinlister: “A platform that enables you to rent bikes from your neighbors”
Taskrabbit: A “mobile marketplace for people to hire people to do jobs and tasks”
Transformation of Business through Digital Technology
In this class, we have learned about how digital technology, along with social media, has changed business process in industries. Examples of this include the fitness industry, self driving cars, and augmented reality.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog as well as my presentation, fitness is a primary example of how an industry has changed entirely due to digital business and social media. The primary example of this is Classpass, an app that allows you to sign up for a multitude of fitness classes in areas close to your proximity. Along these same lines, many individual fitness studies have started to create apps to streamline the signing up process for their classes. In addition to the ability to sign up for classes, Classpass requires users to rank these classes and provide feedback. This system then analyzes data from social media sites to provide future recommendations for classes that are similar to what the user has ranked highly in the past.
Another example of an industry that has been changed through digital business is the automotive industry. As many of our class discussions implied, self driving cars will soon be the new norm. Many car companies, from Tesla to Mercedez to Uber, have all started to invest in research and development for self driving cars. In fact, recently, Uber invested in an artificial intelligence company to help develop their self driving cars. This would not be possible without the technological advances of digital business.
The final example of digital business changing normal digital processes is through augmented reality. Augmented reality adds “graphics, sounds, haptic feedback, and smell” to the natural world as it exists. Augmented Reality has the potential to completely change every industry including education, retail, construction, etc. Here are a few innovative ways that show how augmented reality is changing digital business and the retail space:
IKEA has an app that allows you to visualize furnature in your house prior to purchase:
Shiseido has a make up mirror that scans your face and applies your make up digitally:
Is Google Making Us Stupid:
Our final class in Digital Business and Social media discussed the dark side of Social Media. While the previous two examples show examples of how social media has benefited society and expanded the possibilities of digital business, not all is positive. The article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in The Atlantic discusses how social media has led to the inability for “deep reading” and has rather required “immediacy.” Nowadays, we want an answer right away, rather than taking the time to do research to find an answer. This may be in part, due to social media, which breeds immediacy.
Personally, I agree with this notion. In recent times, rather than spending time to research answers to questions where we don’t know the answer, it has become much easier to just “Google” an answer. Google can provide an immediate answer with no waiting involved. Companies have capatilized on this concept with platforms such as Siri, Amazon Echo (Alexa), and Google Home.
While in class we have discussed the negative implications of Social Media and its impact on our knowledge, it is also to note that these types of sites (ie Google) also are positive. They have opened the possibility to gain endless new information. We can leverage Google to quickly find out information that would normally take hours to find.
In the last class we also watched a video by Sherry Turkle who discussed the notion that we are “connected but alone” because of social media. While there has been so many positive implications of social media (ie: sharing economy, transformation of digital business, endless knowledge”), social media also can create a feeling of isolation. Rather than spending time really enjoying the moment and where we are, often times, we find ourselves distracted by platforms. We take videos at concerts rather than watching them, we snapchat our days rather than living them, and we walk through the halls on our phone rather than saying hi to the people around us. It is important that recognize that social media does in fact have a dark side, that we embrace the endless possibilities of social media, and, most importantly, that we take the time to live in the moment and enjoy our lives firsthand. Overall, this course shows that there is more to social media than just positing pictures, etc, it leads to the potential to leverage its data to help expand business and create a sense of community among strangers.