What I Didn’t Learn in Social Media & Digital Business

Going into my first Social Media and Digital Business class, I had no idea what to expect. I had been trying to get into this class for two years; I had heard nothing but acclaim for the class and BCpeps indicated that Gerald Kane was a professor you would be lucky to have. However, I still had some strong, negative pre-conceived notions regarding what a class centered around social media would be like. I naively thought there wasn’t much more I could learn, after all I am a millennial who uses Facebook and Snapchat. On the other hand, the mix of undergraduate and MBA students was slightly daunting. I imagined the class would center around niche corporate initiatives to increase brand awareness through social media. Ultimately, I thought the focus of this class would be very narrow. How wrong I was.

cojoined-triangles-of-success

Some contrived business nonsense

I’m glad I didn’t learn some contrived social media awareness formula, or something narrow or fleeting. I am glad for the fact that this class focused on big ideas and big issues. I’m glad this class focused on the present and was able to pivot each week to what was currently occurring in the world. I am glad for the professor who taught us and the sense of community this class had, in and out of the classroom.

Social Media and Digital Business shattered my expectations and turned out to be one of the most rewarding classes I have taken at Boston College. This class involved a particular level of involvement and engagement that I had not experienced with any other class. Despite the heavy workload, I never felt overwhelmed. Having given up Twitter years ago, I scoffed at the notion of Twitter being useful coming into the semester. Now I can’t go a few hours without checking it. The more I tweeted, blogged and read, the more I felt connected to my classmates and the world around me. Twitter is not just a platform for peer to peer connection, but also for institutional connection. If I can take away just one thing from this class, it would be my new formed habit of staying informed. 

social-media-phone

But of course that’s not the only thing I took away from this class. We discovered that the digital business Snapchat was rebranding itself into a “camera company”, while the camera company GoPro was rebranding into a “digital business.”  I also came to understand how the economy is changing on a fundamental level. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are growing at a remarkable rate, and researchers are finally understanding the optimal way to get people to share their services.

sharing-economy

Social Media and Digital Business also shed light on the negative aspects of social media. The filter bubble that formed on Facebook tied users together with similar views into close knit communities. While the scale of impact the filter bubble had on this election cycle is unknown, it certainly had an effect. Additionally, the thing I remember most clearly from this class was the story of Justine Sacco. The anonymous mob mentality of social media enables users to completely destroy someone’s life, whether or not that person truly “deserves” it.

justine-sacco

 

Social media also has the power to lift an undeserving, random individual to the height of stardom, as we saw in the case of Ken Bone.  How things go viral online is still a mystery, as we examined through the Chris Brown wedding dance video. Companies that try to make their products or services go viral through force are often met with abysmal results.

Modern Keyboard With Colored Social Network Buttons.

Finally, I saw through my classmates that social media can be a force for positive change. So many of you wrote blogs raising awareness for an organization that sought to make an impact. Whether is was increasing diversity, destigmatizing sensitive issues or helping those in need, I saw your blogs as attempts to make changes and spread a positive message. It showed me the best of what social media has to offer.

So thank you to all my classmates and to Professor Kane for a fantastic semester and a awesome experience.

goodbye.gif

 

8 comments

  1. Great last article. I could not agree more that at the beginning of the semester I too had the notion that this class was going to be another class full of memorizing antedotes and equations and I sort of dreaded out. How wrong were we! So glad that we got to see the bad and the good, but mostly good of social media in the world. The social media and digital business world has flourished and I am excited to see how it will go in the future. Your comments on how it has released people to stardom like Ken Bone are so true. My neighbor growing up, Christina Grimmie was able to use YouTube and became one of the first noticed Youtube stars. Her popularity online granted her the ability to go on The Voice where she established a record contract with Adam Levine and a loving fan base. Tragically her life was taken this summer, however, her family thanks youtube and her fans for giving her the short life she had to share her love of music. Social media allowed that to all happen.

  2. wfbagleyiii · ·

    Great post. It’s interesting, I think many people had a very different understanding of the class before getting involved. I echo your feelings about the good and bad too – although I think that it’s seasonal – or something? This last few months was so saturated with negative press about politics and other crises, that it was hard to gain footing in the positivity that could be spread through the digital landscape. Although Ken Bone did make me smile, even if totally undeserving of his day in the spotlight.

  3. A really clever take on your last post! I came into this class the same way, with a hefty amount of skepticism toward social media. I had expected a lot of formulas or models in this class, teaching us proper ratios for a digital marketing mix, or which channels would align best with different marketing tactics. I’m very glad to see that we were both wrong.

    I really liked your last comment about the positivity of social media, and this was something I had overlooked in my own reflections. There really were a number of very positive blogs and it was interesting to see what everyone in our truly class cared about.

  4. cattybradley · ·

    Nice last blog! I had the same feeling about having to use Twitter and now I find myself checking my Twitter pretty regularly just as news source. You touched upon how this course explored so many elements that make social media what it is – from virality, trolls, branding tools. We really have done a much deeper dive than what I could have even hoped for.

  5. Good last post. I share your feelings completely about the class. I twitted for the first time in my life for this class, and now I need to be in twitter all the time. This is good an bad at the same time, its good since I feel more connected to this technological revolution that we live in, but at the same time there is this fear that probably social media is very addictive, as you said there is no two hours in my day where i don’t look to my twitter and Facebook, looks like a not dangerous but certain addiction.

  6. vicmoriartybc · ·

    When reading what you wrote about GoPro becoming a digital business, I remembered something that stood out to me from class. Professor Kane mentioned that Facebook defines itself as a digital company, not a social media company. This was alarming to me because Facebook is largely thought to be the original social network. To hear them deviate from that shows just how powerful they have become; they have a stake in all aspects of the digital world, which stretches far beyond social media. As we’ve seen through Snapchat’s new Glasses, other traditional social media companies are trying to establish themselves as broadly digital like Facebook has done. I think this speaks to the massive influence social media has over the business and economy in general. Nice job on your last post!

  7. I had some of the same thoughts going into this class along the lines of “I’m a millennial who uses Facebook and Snapchat, what more could I possibly learn?”. I too thought I had a general idea of what the class would be about, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m actually very happy about that. While I originally simply viewed the integration of Twitter and blogging into the class was simply just a way for students to earn class participation, those really became some of my favorite things about the class. Some of the most interesting things we talked about in class were twitter-based conversations (the election) and being required to blog and comment on other people’s blogs resulted in everyone being able to contribute their best insights to the class while also expressing their own individuality and those two things don’t often intertwine in a single aspect of a curriculum. Great post overall.

  8. nice closing post!

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