To say it has been a whirlwind of a semester would be an understatement. Coming into this class, I though I had a pretty good handle on the world of social media and digital business. I knew which Instagram photos were more likely to get the most likes and which tech gadgets seemed like they were going to be the next big thing. However, I was quick to learn that I had very much overestimated my knowledge on any and all subjects social media and digital business related. Below I have compiled my thoughts on my favorite topics we have covered during the course of the semester.
I actually missed the first class where Professor Kane warned about the course load and just how little each of us actually knew about the subjects we would be covering. That being said, I walked into our next class blissfully unaware of just how challenging and rewarding this class would become. Week two began with the topic of ‘collective intelligence.’ My favorite article from that week was Clay Shirky’s ‘Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus,’ where he compared the London gin craze of the 1600’s to the way television has similarly taken over our lives and numbed our minds in the present day. While I thought he made a lot of great points, I felt optimistic upon finishing the article because I have already seen the trend that my generation has started to turn its cognitive surplus away from mindless television, and more towards informing interactive social media presences.
Upon beginning week four, I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Facebook being dubbed the ‘600 Pound Gorilla of Social Media.’ Although it might have the strength of a gorilla, Facebook has always seemed more like a sly and cunning fox scheming behind the scenes to me. Regardless however, I was fascinated by Lancaster’s idea that we, as users who upload organic content on a regular basis, are actually the product, and and not the consumers of Facebook. Rather, the end consumer would be the companies that pay Facebook directly for advertising space and that we are the product they are buying in return. I had never seen Facebook in this light before and it has completely shifted my views on the company. Next month, I actually am participating in a one day job shadowing of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park; I only wish would still be in this class to write a blog post about my experience!
Week five covered the topic of digital branding. This topic, as a marketing and entrepreneurship major was definitely close to my heart and made this one of the most fascinating weeks for me. I was incredibly impressed by our guest speaker Lindsay Sutton, who is the APV of Digital Strategy at John Hancock and felt her advice for making a brand successful in the digital arena was fascinating. I loved her enthusiasm and the I thought the campaign surrounding David Ortiz being a ‘retirement rookie’ was brilliant.
The next week, we delved deeper into the sharing economy. It is crazy to try to think back to a time where I could not order a car to pick me up on-demand, or use an app stay in someone’s private home while abroad. The most interesting idea this week to me was that the currency of the sharing economy is not money or bitcoin, but is actually trust. Yes, I agree that one must have an enormous amount of trust in another person to get into a stranger’s car or stay in a stranger’s home, but one must also place an equal amount of trust in the companies behind these platforms as well. Therefore, I think it will be increasingly important for companies like Uber and AirBnB to not only encourage trustworthy individuals to use their platforms, but to also continue to upgrade their safety measures and protocols as once a customer loses trust in a company, it is one of the hardest things for them to win back.
During week seven we talked about ‘managing virality.’ It is still a mystery to me how some pieces of media go viral while others do not. In fact, the first time I ever heard the term ‘it went viral’ was back in middle school where my friend’s dad had launched a sexy pilgrim ‘viral’ video to promote Muscle Milk. At the time, I thought the video was completely ridiculous and bizarre, but re-watching it now I can see it more from a strategic perspective and understand why they purposefully made the video so over-the-top. I was also surprised that the wedding video went viral, as it seemed fairly low-quality and not well choreographed to me. I guess that is the beauty and the beast of virality though, you never know what exactly will cause it and chasing it is like chasing a bear with a butterfly net.
Jumping ahead to week eleven, I found the future of work material to be fascinating. I had a professor sophomore year who also taught a class on this topic and he had tried to explain to me how great it was going to be when we had robots to do our jobs because we will have all this extra free time to be creative and follow our passions. At the time I kind of brushed him off because I thought we were decades away from such a feat, but now after studying the subject more I was shocked to find out that not only is this future much closer that I originally thought, but the technology already exists in the present day. I hope the use of AI technology will cause more good than it does harm, and fully believe that even those individuals whose occupations will be taken over by machines will be better off in the long run from such implementation of AI. Just as with the industrial revolution, new opportunities will arise and we just will have to tailor our society and the way we have structured work (from typical hours to salaries) to fit our new environment.
While the weeks I described above covered some of my favorite topics, I can honestly say that I learned something new and valuable from each class I have attended this semester. I wish I could have taken this course every year I have been at BC since the material changes so quickly and I’m sure next semester’s students will be covering the topics in completely different ways than we covered them this semester. Now when someone mentions blockchain, AI, or the sharing economy (just to name a few), I feel much more confident joining in on the conversation. I have loved reading everyone’s blogs and twitter contributions this semester and want to thank everyone who took the time to read my contributions this semester as well!