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Social Media: Through the Looking Glass

Social media, if anything, is a telescope. It’s a way of seeing friends, family, and even complete strangers from however far away with or without them knowing you are watching. However, that in and of itself has a euphoric feeling to it. Some people feed off the attention and knowing that others are watching and seeing all that is happening in their lives. For example, Selena Gomez has the most followers on all of Instagram with 74.1 million followers and counting (“Instagram”, 2016). Does she gain this kind of following simply for the attention? Maybe. Maybe not. This is one of the larger ways I see people using social media is for the satisfaction of the attention.

The way I use social media would be a bit different. I attend many concerts and sporting events, and socially this gives me something to converse about with friends and coworkers. For those who do not also attend these events, I am asked to post pictures or videos on Facebook or Instagram so that others can see what I was able to enjoy in person. In a way, I do agree that I use it partially for the attention. Although, I would say I use social media more to bond with the people I connect with. Through sharing these pictures and videos, it gives the people I’m connected with a connection to a time in which they too were at a similar event, and we are able then to share these stories and deepen our friendships and relationships.

I’ve seen it change dramatically through Facebook especially, using the new “On This Day” feature. I have had my Facebook account for seven years, and using this feature allows the user to look back on whatever was posted on that given day on the calendar throughout the history of the user’s account. For example, on this day, April 10, in 2009, I was talking about how Spring Break of my 8th grade year went by far too fast. In 2012, my junior year of high school, I posted about how it was two days until the Nickelback concert (fun fact: I’m a huge Nickelback fan). Last year, I was swimming at the Holland Aquatic Center with my girlfriend and her family. Yet, over time it was the focus of topics and grammar that changed for me. I went from posting at least once a day about every single thing that was happening in my life, to topics that I had a passionate opinion on, to events that I feel have significantly changed my life.

Where I find social media to be most beneficial is the way to personally connect to those who one may not always be able to communicate with in person. For each generation there is much variation. The teenage generation uses it often to find and connect to people they may know through mutual friends. In fact, it was reported that at least 57% of teens have become friends with someone they met online (Lenhart, 2015). For my generation, I see it most useful for friends that have already established their relationship to communicate and stay in touch as they physically drift to other parts of the world. For the generation older than myself, it comes off as a way to connect to family and coworkers mostly, as well as reconnect with long lost friends from high school and earlier in life.

Likewise, social media is extremely detrimental. On average, 28% of all online activity is spent on social media platforms (Bennett, 2015). This 28% equals out to 1.72 hours per day for the average user. Almost a full two hours a day strictly on social media? Does this not sound ridiculous? This is the world that we are surrounding ourselves with. It becomes harder and harder to make face to face contact and easier to be behind a keyboard or phone screen. This is making both social and non-social aspects more difficult for the younger generations. Parents are using social media to distract themselves from their children, and vice-versa. In my eyes, this is extremely detrimental.

Social media still seems fairly new, even though many sites have been around for as much as a decade. Now, as I sit here typing this post with my Facebook page open and my Instagram page running on my phone, I take a moment to reconsider all that I truly have put into social media pages, and whether or not all this time was honestly worth what I have missed in the world, or not.

 

References:

Bennett, S. (2015). 28% of Time Spent Online is Social Networking. AdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/time-spent-online/613474

“Instagram accounts with the most followers worldwide as of March 2016 (in millions)”. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/421169/most-followers-instagram/

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Technology and Friendships. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/06/teens-technology-and-friendships/

 

Featured Image retrieved from http://www.vandelaydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/free-social-media-icons

 

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Social Media

Yes, I have a Facebook account. I have a Twitter account. I also have an Instagram, Snapchat, and BuzzFeed account. No, sadly enough, I do not have a MySpace account like all of the cool kids.

Now a days, social media dictates how a large majority of people receive and share their information. According to Internet World Stats (2012), there were approximately 836 million Facebook users in the world as of March 2012, a number that has continued to increase since then. What’s with all the social media buzz? The word is in the question. Social. People want to be able to share information and be seen by others, even socially “approved” by their peers. In a way, this directly connects to public relations in that exact sense. Public relations practitioners are all about building and maintaining relationships between individuals or organizations and their peers or publics, of which the individual or organization needs an “approval” from.

“Today, the Internet implementation in the marketing process is inexpensive, delivers instant international reach, offers great real time feedback, and reaches millions of people for whom the web is the center of virtually all communications” (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2012, p. 319). Even though this article is targeted more on marketing instead of public relations, the same concept can be applied. The internet offers lightning fast production and reach across the worldwide spectrum. Facebook has recently created a sidebar on the user’s home screen that shows internet “trends” or popular articles or searches. Public relations practitioners can utilize this as gold if they are campaigning or involved in a situation that catches socio-technological attention. A well handled situation may be broadcast on that trending bar, viewed by the public, and retained as positive information or a type of “save it for later” information that may come in handy when it comes time for the public to make a decision on the campaign that is being represented.

Robert Wynne of Forbes.com, of which was included in a previous post as well, says in another of his articles that he has “strategies” for “winning social media” through public relations. Wynne (2014) offers six key components into properly integrating and utilizing social media in public relations:

1. Be Brief. Don’t Be Boring.

2. Be Newsworthy.

3. Be Helpful.

4. Avoid Facebook (interesting, first negative post about Facebook I’ve seen in my search)

5. Be Live.

6. Be Video Proficient.

In essence, what Wynne is saying is not to throw a press release on Facebook. Get to the point quick, but efficiently. Tell the public the important points that they need to know. Supply helpful information that is going to give the peers a “leg up.” As far as Facebook, Wynne says to yes avoid the boring, unattractive posting, but that groups that are well organized are a great idea. Being live means be up to date, respond to questions or mentions in a positive manner, and suggest private contacting for a more in depth response. Lastly, being video proficient can help attract necessary attention. The video may be shared, and shared, and shared, and shared, and before you know it, more than half the country or even world could know about your campaign.

Social media is the destination in which the current world is heading towards, if not already there. With the game changing, practitioners must also follow suit before getting lost in the past and potentially overlooked by the public. It may take time, but one can’t expect a flower to bloom the day the seed is planted, can they?

 

References:

Facebook Growth and Penetration in the World – Facebook Statistics. (2012). Facebook Growth and Penetration in the World – Facebook Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm

Papasolomou, I., & Melanthiou, Y. (2012). Social media: Marketing public relations’ new best friend. Journal of Promotion Management, 18(3), 319-328. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1240208254?accountid=39473

Wynne, R. (2014, April 28). Winning Social Media Strategies For Public Relations .Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2014/04/28/winning-social-media-strategies-for-public-relations/