In the beginning of the semester, I thought this class would cover topics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and help me better understand how to market on these platforms. What I didn’t realize was how expansive and far reaching the class would be. As I sit here to write this post in December, my main takeaway is how social media and digital business are everywhere – literally. It is not just about how a company advertises on Facebook or what someone tweets about, the social and digital world’s impact is much further reaching. After about my third week of going through news articles to decide which ones to tweet about, I realized that almost every article in the news was applicable. From the election, to self-driving cars, to fashion, to fitness, to coffee – social media and digital business were intertwined in all of them. So, although I did get a better understanding of how to market on social media, I now also better understand how the social media world impacts society. I wanted to take a moment to outline some of social media and digital business’ biggest moments of the past 4 months to support that social media is everywhere and involved in almost everything.
Professor Kane’s prediction once again came true! A large news event occurred during the semester that was heavily influenced by social media. As we discussed in length, social media has been a part of the past few elections,but it has never been used quite like it had in this past election. From tweeting, to the filter bubble, to fake news – social media played a huge role in this election. It will be interesting to see how it continues to play a role in the future. Will our new president use twitter as his primary form of communication? Or will Facebook change its algorithm to pop the filter bubble? While I can’t predict the future, I know for sure that future elections and campaigns will not underestimate social media’s influence and power. Hopefully, instead of just using it to spread fake news or surround ourselves with like-minded people, we will start to better utilize the tool for good – increasing voter turnout, engaging hard to reach audiences, listening to constituents, and better understanding the needs of the country.
TWITTER STREAMING NFL GAMES
Another newsworthy event I thought was interesting was when Twitter announced its partnership with the NFL to live stream 10 games. Although we saw some really creative strategies to try and spark its stock price this semester, this one was my favorite. So far, the results seem to be positive. The NFL is happy with the picture quality and feel the platform is adding incremental viewership. Additionally, Twitter has over-delivered its numbers – averaging just over 3 million viewers per game. They have also been able to help the NFL reach its desired millennial viewers and stop their own plunging viewership numbers. While this was definitely a smart move on the company’s behalf, I am not sure this alone will save them. Twitter’s user growth is still slow at best so until the company can figure out how to increase those numbers, it might be time to get out or be acquired. However, I am a huge fan of watching what I want where I want so I selfishly hope both Twitter and the NFL live streaming continues!
MERCEDES SELF-DRIVING CARS
My last example may not have been the biggest news, but it was pretty powerful for me – Mercedes’ announcement that it is programming its self-driving cars on whose lives to save. The fact that our technology is now being programmed to make decisions on who lives or who dies is CRAZY to think about! This issue brings up a huge moral dilemma and many potential implications. Mercedes-Bens executive Christoph von Hugo is quoted saying “If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that’s your first priority.” He makes this out to be such a black and white situation, when in reality there will be many things that fall in the gray area. While I agree that it makes sense from a business perspective to have the car save the driver – I mean would you really buy a self-driving car designed to put your life second? I think there will be a number of difficult situations that will result from this decision, especially in the early phases when the kinks of self-driving cars are still being ironed out. Self-driving cars seem like a great idea in so many ways, but when you start to think about these ethical implications it becomes much scarier. I don’t have the right answer as to who to save, but these are issues that need to continue to be discussed and refined before these cars are put on the road.
These three examples are just a few of the many ways social media and digital business play a role in our every day lives. Whether it is determining our future president, streaming our favorite sports team, or deciding who will live or die in a car crash – these technologies influence and at times dictate society. My hope is that we embrace social media and digital technology to better our lives, but also continue to use it to engage with others in thoughtful discussions about its societal implications.