I know what you did last summer

And last month. And last week. And last night.

And every time I find out a little bit about you and what is happening in your life on social media, I catch myself asking if you too know about my life, my accomplishments, and who my friends are. Or is this a one-sided relationship? While I spent my morning scrolling through news feeds learning about your life, it’s fascinating how on one hand, you could know just as much about me, or on the other hand, never think twice about me as I simply exist as another number out of your 1,000+ Facebook friends.

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Even though I am guilty of having 1,000 Facebook friends, I still find myself hesitant to delete anyone even if they have not been present in my life in the last eight years. And why is this? To some extent I think it’s the subconscious feeling of if I delete this person, then I will probably forget about them forever. It’s as if they will be deleted entirely from my memory and I, shockingly, might not even care. Today, it’s almost that twisted feeling of if I delete them, then it’s as if they never existed because everyone who does exist will be part of my everyday life because of how often we share, like, and post daily on social media. And even if they are not present in my life at all and I might never speak to them in person again, why do I still feel guilty deleting them or upset when I’ve been the one deleted?

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This persistent and ubiquitous use of social media signifies on the positive side how easy it can now be to stay in touch with friends and family. Not only does it relate to staying connected with people, but also with businesses. Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, I find myself aware of what initiatives companies are campaigning or promoting by simply following them or reading shared posts. Brand presence on social media matters. In fact, 95% of users 18-35 follow at least one brand on social media.

Therefore, while humans worry about being unfollowed or defriended, I presume companies do as well. And even though companies have zero personal relation to you, they still assume you will “like” them. One initial impression I have of social media and digital business is that in order to keep someone from unfollowing a brand, businesses have to give value to people, whether that includes emotional appeal or a promotion. What I am curious to know is how some companies can do this so effectively and become viral while others fail to generate any engagement. As I was doing some research online, I found that ads on social media may actually not generate emotional appeal, which makes me wonder if social media campaigns should try and create emotional appeal or if they should instead target a tailored message to specific people in the customer decision journey.

Today I am amazed at how much easier it seems for startups and entrepreneurs to promote their businesses via social media. Just ten years ago if you wanted to launch a company, for example to sell jewelry, you would have to initially promote products to your close friends and family, attend trade fairs, hold open houses, or promote on local television channels to gain word of mouth and spread awareness for the company to excel. Now with digital businesses, such as Etsy that sells handcrafted items, and social media channels, an entrepreneur has more access and opportunity to gain and spread awareness in a shorter amount of time. Moving forward I am also curious to learn how startups, especially retail sites, use social media to tap into people’s social media feeds and become “viral.”

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From a business standpoint, if I hear a company does not have a Facebook page, I initially think they must be crazy–isn’t it common sense by now that every company should have social media presence and how hard could it really be to post consistently? However, having a father who owns a small company of 15 employees, I have learned in reality this idea to be a misconception. In class we briefly mentioned how in some cases age does not determine the desire and drive to become more digitally mature. Even though my dad wants his company to become more digitally mature, his company lacks any social media presence, and he himself only joined Facebook last year and barely knows what Snapchat is or how it works. While I understand many other Generation X baby boomers have a better understanding and use social media more often than my dad, my personal experience conveys to me how hard it can be for small businesses that have been around for more than twenty years to adapt and take notice of how influential and vital social media can be to a business’ success. And while yes, my father understands the untapped opportunity of social media to promote his business, he does not feel comfortable running the accounts himself and has been considering hiring a social media marketing employee this year. While most large corporations have a social media manager and even social media departments, hiring one social media employee might seem like the obvious answer. But adding plus one to a group of 15 is an important decision, and to me it’s fascinating how social media impacts these hiring decisions and business needs.

Admittedly, I tend to use social media primarily to like pictures and watch funny videos that friends have shared. I look forward to using social media in this class to become more observant of digital trends and different ways social media impacts and influences businesses. What I’m hoping to gain from this class is a more in-depth understanding of how social media and digital business work effectively, especially as advances in technology develop and new social media channels arise.  Even though I have had profiles on multiple social media channels from Facebook to Vine, Facebook is the main player that comes to mind when thinking of social media because I have used it the longest and continue to check it as often as I did eight years ago. Will Facebook be around in eight more years? I’d like to think yes–but what I am more sure of is that there will probably be another social media channel that I check daily in the future that does not yet exist today.

 

6 comments

  1. Nice post. I think your expectations for this class are very much in line with what you will get. Whether FB will be around in 8 years? I think almost certainly (and even more so as a company vs. a platform), but it will look VERY different than what it looks like today.

  2. The desk cartoon is really cool, I think it definitely shows the race to replace every tool, service, and even decoration that we see or use on a daily basis with an app or website. While some have completely disrupted the competition, like uber for taxis or LinkedIn for contacts, some have just accompanied what what already available – like Skype for phone calls. This constant stream of competition trying to disrupt the things we currently know is definitely what we have been used to growing up, but also very confusing for our parents (like your dad and his company moving to Facebook – a problem my dad has as well.)

  3. I think your paragraph on deleting friends on social media and wondering if it’s a one-sided relationship was really interesting. In a way, I feel as though I know more about the personalities/lives of those I follow on Snapchat or other social media, but I wonder if those people feel the same toward me. I also identified with your dad’s question of hiring a social media manager. My mom is a Real Estate Agent and as her personal brand has grown and sales have increased, she’s asked herself the same question of hiring an intern and if the business expense would truly be worth it.

  4. Very catchy blog title. It was interesting how you turned the obvious statement that viewers know all about another person from social media into the less obvious question of whether or not the generator of the content knows about you in return. It’s also interesting to consider the psychology behind “unfriending” someone on Facebook. I, too, have contemplated paring down my list of “friends” on Facebook, given that some were in random lectures with me in college back in 2012 and I haven’t seen or heard from them since. I have refrained from “unfriending” because, perhaps, on some level I am not willing to simplify my college experience into just a few close friends. Random acquaintances that are seen on a daily basis are essentially the hallmark of the present and once those dissipate in real life should they also fall the the wayside on social media?

  5. I really like the connection you drew between a feeling of almost guilt over deleting/unfollowing friends with unfollowing or simply not following brands. Though I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it this way, I definitely feel the same way about removing people from my social media feed. What I think is interesting is that people you unfollow will not have a continued ability to force their way into your feed (with the exception of posts by mutual friends), whereas companies have the ability to promote sponsored posts or post advertisements even if you don’t engage with them directly on social media. I guess that may be why we sometimes feel they are intrusive, too, because they have an ability to do something “real” people can’t. I’m also really intrigued as to how brands should best find balance among being personalized (providing value) but not becoming a part of your feed in an intrusive, “friend-like” way. Awesome post!

  6. I had some thoughts with regard to one-sided social media relationships, but in a slightly different vein. It’s interesting that while I’m sure many businesses are still struggling to find their digital/social media footprint (as with your father’s company), other businesses are having surprisingly deep one-sided relationships with their consumers through the use of marketing and data analytics. I’m reminded of some of the many articles about big data and its implications (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#596956c834c6). I can only imagine how much better data analytics and predictive modeling gets when companies can leverage a combination of every tweet or Facebook post you’ve made and every website you’ve visited.

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