In my first post of the semester, I talked about committing, as a professional, to stay current with the evolution of social media and digital business. I was eager to build the skillset to help keep up, and hoped that this course would support my development. Having gone on Tech Trek West last spring, I felt “in the know” about both social media and digital business, and thought I’d be able to broaden but not really deepen my understanding.
As it turns out, not surprisingly, it’s a little bit more complicated. There’s a lot more to know than I realized, and there isn’t one website that explains all these things on a daily basis (that I’ve found). Staying current doesn’t have an easy formula. I’ve found some great sites to follow on Twitter, like TechCrunch, which have given me fodder for many tweets, but have also taught me about how the tech scene evolves. I’ve never been so active on Twitter on my personal account, and I’ve enjoyed gaining new followers and occasionally getting retweeted (including by Sree Sreenivasan from the NYT!) throughout the semester. I want to be a more engaged Twitter participant after this semester ends via my personal account, too. Regardless of the industry I end up in, tech will be relevant – everyone uses computers, and everyone’s job will change based on developments in AI and machine learning. Choosing to keep up with these changes will make me a more informed professional and manager.
Some of the things we’ve talked about in this class are more fun and hip than professionally relevant, for me. Knowing about Amazon’s newest product and the latest Uber debacle likely won’t affect my career in any meaningful way. But in the same way that I haven’t prioritized keeping up with the Kardashians, I haven’t always made an effort to read the (more traditional) news either. All of this information plays a role in today’s professional world, and social has a hand in everything. As I demonstrated in my presentation about Dell’s social media and corporate engagement, and as I’ve broken down through investigations into inbound marketing and recruiting & social media, social and digital are everywhere. You’re not doing your best work if you’re not acknowledging this fact. Unless you’re selling LifeAlert bracelets, you should have a robust social strategy – and honestly, my LifeAlert wearing grandmother is on Facebook more than I am, so you don’t get a pass there.
One thing that this class has opened my eyes to is the way those teetering on the edge of Generation Z will see the world. They haven’t seen card catalogs, they have two different Instagram accounts, and many of them seem to check Snapchat when they wake up. Also, none of them recognize Gilligan’s Island references. With a marketing concentration, I need to understand the way Gen Z uses the internet, their phones, and they way they interact with their environment. Also, as a manager, I may be managing people in this generation in the future, and at the very least we’ll be on teams together. I wasn’t aware of how fast things were evolving, and how pervasive digital really is. As Baby Boomers retire, companies will have more and more Gen Y and Z employees. We’re the future!
Another major takeaway from class is the cool/creepy spectrum. All this stuff we’re talking about is connected. Vast personalization comes with release of data. Major innovation comes with crazy failures. How long will you wait before you’re comfortable in a driverless car? Are you comfortable “always” sharing location data with Google if it means you get up-to-the-minute traffic updates? Do you want the savings from a Wegmans or Extra Care card, even if it allows a company to figure out so much about you? These are all questions that I’ve answered separately, without thinking about the persona that these companies can develop about me with the data I share. In the same way it’s important to be consistent with the way you spend your money or behave with friends, it’s important to be consistent about the data you release. Sure, my online behaviors may not be that exciting, but that doesn’t keep companies from tracking my cookies, purchases, and so much more. Through this course, I’ve learned about what I’m really putting out there – and that it’s on me if I want to control that.
I’m still feeling good about my Apple products – but honestly, the more I learn, the less I’m excited about Google and Gmail. They’re pretty openly trying to sell ads based on my behavior (see current Gmail ad on Wayfair’s 12 days of deals – do you think it’s a coincidence that I recently interviewed at Wayfair and have been talking and typing about it? I don’t think so). For me, here, switching costs are very high. Starting over with a new email client is a lot of work… maybe that’s a job for another day.
One last thing I learned – I’ll still be following #IS6621 to keep up with what the kids are talking about these days. You all taught me so many new things, and I want to keep learning. Thanks, everyone.