Midterm

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

The human race is a very group oriented species; it is in our nature to want to be surrounded with people who are like minded and share the same ideals that we do. In recent years there have been new innovations that have allowed us to be more connected as a world population. The innovation is social media, social media has allowed us to connect with people all over the world and it has made communication almost instantaneous. Whether social media sites are being used to keep in touch with friends or to spread a message they have greatly changed the way people interact and communicate.

The most common use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is to interact with friends and meet new people. On sites like these you can post information about your personality, your traits, your interests, and even what you are thinking or feeling at any given time. It is common for us to try and find and associate ourselves with people who have the same interests as us. Studies have found that Twitter users tend to follow or associate with other users who are in similar emotional states as they are. The article “Twitter Users Congregate Based on Mood, Study Says”, reports that research done by Johan Bollen of the University of Indiana indicates that people who include the word “loneliness” in their tweets will be more likely to follow people who use the word loneliness in their tweets as well. Research like this shows that there are new ways for people to connect and interact through social media. In a case like the one presented in the article people might be able to find emotional support through sites like Facebook and Twitter, which for some may be easier than going out and talking to a person face to face. Although not the main goal of social media, it is an impact that has been brought about by it.

Another place where social media has had an impact is in business. Social media connects people all over the world, this can allow for a company to promote a product or service to thousands of people. One great way for a young business to generate interest for itself is through word of mouth, if you offer a unique product or service and can provide a good experience all it takes is a few customers to refer you their friends and you can then start to generate a good amount of business. Social media sites have allowed this process to reach more people and reach them at a faster rate. A New York Times article titled “Marketing Small Businesses with Twitter” discusses how Curtis Kimball from San Francisco was able to generate 5,400 followers on Twitter when he discovered he had a new customer who had heard about his crème brulee cart on Twitter. Those 5,400 followers are likely to visit his stand at least once in their life time and if Curtis is able to provide a positive and unique experience it is also likely that the followers will either mention his stand on Twitter or will verbally communicate the experience to a friend or family member.  The article on the following link lists a few small businesses who can thank social media for some of their success http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/small-businesses-that-understand-social-media/?ref=marketing.

Small business aren’t the only ones who have been using social media to promote their brand, in the article “Would You Like Fries and a Coke With That…FarmVille?” author Azam Khan discusses how McDonalds and Zynga launched a McDonalds themed farm on the popular Facebook game FramVille. This was a one day event where a McDonalds farm would see a McDonalds farm as one of their neighbor farms. A screen shot in the article shows the McDonalds farm the is riddled with the McDonalds logo, the more time a person spends playing FarmVille, the longer they see the McDonalds logo and the more they are thinking about McDonalds. This isn’t the only way Facebook has been used as a marketing tool. Facebook will take information that its users post about themselves and will sell it to ad agencies to develop targeted advertisements that are then posted on the side of a user’s page. One example of Facebook selling its users information is the hiring of the founders of the site Daytum, which is a website that records personal data to create visualizations. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/facebook-daytum-a-personal-data-site/?ref=socialmedia.

Along with changing the way businesses operate, social media has also brought about great change to the political world. Before social media, political campaigning focused mainly on commercials on the television and the radio, supporters going door to door to talk to people in their homes and visuals such as signs and bumper stickers. Now with social media being such a large network it is not uncommon to see political websites, blogs, website advertisements, and Facebook pages and posts. During the 2008 election campaign President Barack Obama was said to be the first “Social Media President”, meaning that he was the first elected president to use social media to generate a political campaign. Obama’s social media campaign consisted of Blogs, a Flicker account, Youtube videos, Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook http://www.searchmarketinggurus.com/search_marketing_gurus/2008/11/barack-obama-the-first-social-media-president.html. Not only did these platforms allow Obama and his campaign team to reach a broad market, but they also showed relatability between the President and the average American citizen because the President was using something to share his message and goals through an outlet many people use and are familiar with. Due to the success of this campaign social media is now a big focus for the next election and is already being used. An article titled “Republicans Sharpening Online Tools for 2012” states that President Obama posted a thirty second video clip to his Facebook page to promote a town hall style meeting to be conducted from Facebook headquarters that would answers question from people all over the country. In an effort to avoid a defeat in the 2012 election the Republican Party has increased their presence on social media sites, as discussed in the article Representatives from across the Republican Party such as Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, and Eric Cantor.

American isn’t the only example of the impact of social media on the political spectrum, there have also been examples stemming from Arab nations using social media as a way to spread messages about protests and uprisings. One of the more well known examples is the uprising that occurred in Egypt just a few months ago. The revolt in Egypt was started and supported by a very young population who wanted to see change brought about the nation and the end of the rule of a corrupt leader. The majority of Egypt’s population is young, so in order to spread messages to the youth and also the world, organizers of the revolt took to social media as their method of communication. People would tweet about where protests would be held, what kind of provisions might be necessary should a riot break out at a protest, and information about how effective the protests were. On Facebook people could create events to gather people for protest or make status updates regarding protest information. In Saudi Arabia, where public gathering is illegal, people use Twitter to generate interest on government policies and rulings they do not agree with http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/world/middleeast/16saudi.html?_r=4&ref=socialmedia. This practice can be very effective at gaining outside support to put pressure on the Saudi Government to change their ways or their practices because although the government can limit what people do and say in Saudi Arabia, they cannot limit what the rest of the world does or says. For both of these countries and many others in the Arab world, social media has given a voice to the voiceless.

In an ever increasingly technological world, change is going to happen and it is going to happen rapidly. One aspect of our culture that has changed due to changes in technology is the way that we communicate and connect. In recent years there have been a number of websites that have allowed us to connect and communicate in ways that just years ago we could have never imagined. Today a message can be sent to anyone, anywhere in the world with just the touch of a button or click of a mouse. This change has been so effective that business and political leaders have even taken to it to communicate to their customers and supporters. These changes have brought about stronger businesses and a more informed population. Social media has truly had a great impact on our society as a whole.

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