Social Media: It’s all in how you use it

I have to start out by saying that reading the Boyd article was strange to me because I witnessed some of the evolution of social networking sites. I guess it seemed odd to me reading the history of something that I participated in, and that still seems fairly recent to me.

I joined Facebook when it was first opened to @UWEC.edu email accounts, and I have been at least a semi active user since I joined. I also joined sites like MySpace and Live Journal, but I didn’t stay with them for very long. I definitely agree with Boyd’s classification of social network sites vs. social networking sites. Many of the successful sites are intended to maintain friendship networks that someone already has rather than expand an existing friend network. That option is still available through comments to posts, but it isn’t a main focus of the site.

Qualman brought up several points, but my experience with Facebook indicates those observations apply to some users, but sadly not all. He mentions that social media has led to a sort of preventative behavior because people recognize that their opinions and actions can have consequences when they are made public. Despite this preventative behavior factor, BuzzFeed still has lots of options when it compiles lists of racist or sexist remarks made on Twitter. A few examples of this are when Marc Anthony sang God Bless America at an MLB game, or when Miss New York was Crowned Miss America. Baron mentions that social network sites have an impact on people’s presentation of self, that individuals tailor their information and interests to display a certain appearance. I think a lot of people engage in this, but there are clearly many that are either proud of what they are, or the concept has not occurred to them.

I believe that braggadocian behavior could be a factor for some, such as posting numerous pictures of their perfect family or full albums of their trip to Europe, but I also see a lot of very mundane posts from friends about what they are watching on TV, making for dinner, drinking, bars they are headed out to, or just a general lack of motivation to do anything. He mentions a reduction in reality TV watching, and an increase in people going out and living their lives. While there may be some compelling evidence of this, I think a lot of people are still watching reality TV. With all the Twitter trending references they squeeze into shows, I would bet that a significant segment of their audience is watching the show while surfing Facebook or Twitter on their phone or computer. Those people are clearly not “going out and living their lives”.

He also provides examples of an elderly gentleman and a mother using their postings to a social network site to review their recent posts and take stock of their life. After reviewing those posts, they used it as motivation to make changes to their life. I certainly don’t think Qualman is wrong, but I think the concepts of self-censorship in social media and using social media to take stock of their life and get out and live it are lost on many people. Perhaps that is just my group of friends…

Social media’s impact on companies is very interesting to me. I definitely think that companies should use social media to put an ear to the ground and enhance customer experience. Rather than wasting time trying to hide bad experiences, they are going above and beyond to resolve those bad experiences in a public spotlight. This is a much more effective strategy because it is also good PR for them. The impact of a bad experience shared on Twitter or Facebook is much greater because of all the friends and friends-of-friends that could potentially see it.

I witnessed an interesting instance of this about a few months ago. An individual had launched a Kickstarter campaign over a year ago to release a game called The Doom that Came to Atlantic City. The campaign was a success, and everything seemed to be going fine, although with limited communication, until the bottom just fell out. The campaign creator emailed all backers and said that the game was dead in the water, and that he was working on providing backers with refunds. Unfortunately, that would take some time since he had already spent a portion of the funds on undisclosed things.

Within a week or two of that announcement, a company called Cryptozoic (which had no affiliation with the game at all) contacts the original creators of the game. They later issue an announcement that they will work with the creators of the game and release it to the backers at no additional cost. This wasn’t their problem to fix, and they could’ve easily done nothing. However, choosing to get involved how and when they did provided a massive amount of good will toward their company, and prompted many individuals to look at and then purchase some of their other products. They went from a company that many board game fans had not heard of, to a company that suddenly had a lot of buzz and positive attention.

Posted on September 22, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi! Thanks for your sharing your ideas. I agree with you about preventative behavior. Although I think that the thought of having an incriminating picture posted on Facebook or Instagram deters some people from making certain choices, I think, overall, humans are impulsive and end up reacting after the fact, instead of being proactive beforehand. As a K-12 teacher, I am very cautious about what I allow on my Facebook and who I accept on my friends list. However, I have friends who allow anything on their profile, which can cause some unwanted negative attention. Thanks, again!

  2. Hey, I agree that Qualman really seems to overstate the effect that social media has on its users. I don’t doubt that there are people who absolutely change their behavior based upon social media. However, I really don’t think that it is the norm (Do we know if these points were based in actual research or were simply opinions? I may have missed that…).

    In my experience, it takes quite a bit of effort to make real change and most people simply don’t bother. I think that it is likely that there will always be some people who are motivated to change and those who aren’t. We can see it in those people who even now are getting wasted and posting ridiculous pictures or videos of themselves on Faceook and we can see it in companies that try to make themselves look good by covering up the evidence of poor performance.

  3. I really enjoyed this post….it is definitely all in how we use social media. I especially like this idea about how those who are watching reality television might be using social media at the same time, and they, indeed, may not be out exactly living their lives…this is very interesting to me. This whole “me, me, me” behavior associated with braggadocian behavior does strike me as odd at times….why do some of us feel the need to post all those mundane details of our lives….and who is to say what is mundane? My mundane might be very exciting to someone else, and the same could be said in reverse: others’ mundane could sound like my piece of heaven or excitement. All of these thoughts made me seriously think about how I and others around me use Facebook and/or other forms of SM to share our lives with those closest to us or even just “friends” that are not necessarily the closest of friends, but friends nonetheless by association of Facebook.

    Furthermore, you ended with a really strong point here. I love it when companies who were virtually unknown in the public arena become popular for doing something related to the good will of all….these companies do deserve what SM can offer to them because they are likely doing good deeds that might go unnoticed if it were not for SM. If you think about it, the world we live in today allows the causes of both individuals and companies to be shared with the world. I love this concept, and your example provides just that kind of example. I did not know of this Cryptozoic company, but now I have checked it out thanks to your link and story-telling of the event.

    Christin Hunter

  4. I think I have a different perspective than you on social media – good and bad – maybe because I am older, I don’t really know. While the mundane Facebook posts can be boring (but are easy to skip over) I have a lot of friends that post funny and whimsical posts, things that make me smile and laugh. I have a lot of old friends that I don’t live near anymore so it is a great way to keep tabs on their lives. I also only accept requests from those I want to hear from – I have no problem de-friending or ignoring requests from those I have no interest in. My kids probably had the advantage of witnessing the bad that can come from posting every single aspect of a teenager’s life on Facebook before they got to that stage themselves They think it is stupid when people they know post party pictures. They also are well aware of the consequences, both at home and in the real world for posting inappropriate things. Instigram, on the other hand, is one that I have not kept tabs on my kids as well as I should. Luckily, I have friends whose kids are friends of mine on some of these sites and they fill me in on all the details when need be. It is a serious challenge staying one step ahead of your kids and all the new sites that constantly come up!

  5. I feel like I should clarify something. My comment about mundane posts was more directed at posts like “Yay, the Voice is on!”, “Sooo tired”, or “Yay bar cleaned then getting my eyes done at 3 before that I have to get food for the house”.
    I also like to keep tabs on the lives of my friends and family, so I definitely know where you are coming from.

  6. Me, too….I love keeping in touch with family….and I am a fan of anything funny and/or whimsical, too….and every now and then….those “mundane” posts might be just wanted I needed to get through a day! I think we might be talking about posts that come so frequently and catalog every move a person makes in a day as mundane, but I could be wrong….this is a bit subjective: to define what one thinks of as mundane. I love the conversation!

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