Good Bye Social Media, But Not Really

“It’s been quite the semester. We’ve talked personal branding, content-marketing, analytics and social media policy. We’ve had two field trips, guest speakers and pie. We have talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of social media with success stories and public shaming. We’ve tweeted, LinkedIn, Google+’ ed. We sometimes check our Klout scores. We got a chance to learn more about The Union for Contemporary Art.”

– Dr. Carol Zuegner

My biggest take away from this semester is how to be an impactful presence online. I’ve learned the importance of my personal brand and engaging in conversations. After all, social media is social right? I’ve created a habit of checking my Klout score daily and even entered into a little friendly competition with others. I have a huge anticipation for the future. There’s so much to look forward to in the years to come with journalism. There is so much room for growth, change, and new ideas. Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.19.48 PM

As a result from this class, I view social media in a completely different light. I’m guilty of thinking that anyone over the age of 40 shouldn’t be on social media. Now I understand that some of the most meaningful presences online come from older generations. The online media of today is changing the face of journalism and that’s exciting. I loved this class. I am so blessed to be studying in a field where my homework is to create an account on LinkedIn or post of Google+, or Tweet a few more times a week than usual.

Social media is a platform that constantly changes. I am changing too. The fate of journalism is unknown; the future is coming. I’m confident that the Journalism, Media, and Computing Department at Creighton will continue to prepare it’s students for what lies ahead.

Not Your Typical Elementary Map Test

In 5th grade I was given a map of the United States and told to memorize each state’s location, capital, and spelling. Two weeks later I was supposed to be able to fill in a blank one on my own. In 8th grade I was given a map of the world and told to memorize each country’s location, capital, and spelling. Two months later I was supposed to be able to fill in a blank one on my own. Moral of the story: I passed both with flying colors, but these maps are slightly different than the maps 20 year old me is dealing with now.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Like topographic maps of mountain ranges, network maps can also illustrate the points on the landscape that have the highest elevation.” Much of the social media world remains unmapped as of now. By charting conversations especially with services like Twitter, we can gin insight into the role social media plays in our society. “A more complete map and understanding of the social media landscape will help interpret the trends, topics, and implications of these new communications technologies.”

There are 6 different archetypes of network crowds that have been mapped. One of them is the polarized crowd. By definition this network consists of 2 big groups with little connection. I think the best example of this can be seen every election season between partisan groups. Twitter has become grounds for much campaigning but those who tend to vote blue over red or visa versa usually keep the ball in their respective courts when discussing national political issues. Today Hillary Clinton announced her official candidacy in the 2016 presidential race. I saw overwhelming support for her on all of my accounts however, I know that plenty of the people I follow do not support her. There is definitely a divide when it comes to political news like today’s and a polarized crowd emerges.

Polarized crowd photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

Polarized crowd photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

Another example of a mapped network is a tight crowd. Highly interconnected people constitute this archetype. The most recent Twitter thread I can remember exemplifying this is the NACA 2015 conference in Minneapolis, MN. For the 5 days I was in attendance, the conversations were off the charts in their interconnectedness. According to Pew Research, “These structures show how networked learning communities function and how sharing and mutual support can be facilitated by social media.” It was almost as if using the hashtag #naca15 unlocked the door to an entirely new community.

The broadcast network is commentary surrounding breaking news as it unfolds. I am a member in this web every Jays basketball game. There’s play by play tweets, commentary on bad calls, exciting plays, score updates, and Bluejay roll call around the country. The great thing about the Bluejay broadcast group is that everyone seems to get in conversation with one another regarding the news at hand.

The largest group of people falling into the brand cluster map are high school/college aged girls who drink Starbucks. According to Pew Research, “Well-known brands and other popular subjects can attract large fragmented Twitter populations who tweet about it but not to each other.” I’d even go farther to say that Instagram is the biggest medium of Starbucks related posts. The fact of the matter is, girls aren’t posting pictures of their coffee cups to get into conversation. They are doing it to get likes, favorites, retweets, or jealous friends who are upset they weren’t invited.

It’s so interesting to think about the complexity of these maps in retrospect to the material I was studying in middle school. The world is changing; are we able to keep up?

There’s No Right Answer

I wish there was something society could do. Public shaming is certainly an issue and one that has only been magnified in the last decade due to the birth of social media. Monica Lewinsky perfectly articulated her horrifying experience with the issue in her recent Ted talk.

Monica talks a lot about society needing to become more compassionate in terms of social media. I agree with her however, I don’t foresee that happening in the near future. Maybe this is just my inner pessimist shining through but I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. It’s a sad reality.

Monica Lewinsky isn’t the only figure to be publicly humiliated. While her case happened in 1998 before social media was a thing, it laid the groundwork for future cases. It’s terrifying to think that something stupid myself or one of my friends does at this age can so quickly be turned against us publicly and out of context. Young adults have been doing stupid things since the beginning of time, but now for the first time those actions are being placed at the center stage.

Justine Sacco is the modern day Lewinsky in a sense. Her tweet, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white” went viral while she was flying to South Africa. While this doesn’t settle well in my stomach, and while I think Monica Lewinsky probably shouldn’t have fallen in love with her boss, I do think that we need to protect the person using their right of expression just as much as we are protecting the backlashers using theirs.

When Justine Sacco finally turned on her phone, she was bombarded by tweets from everyone who’d seen her post. Read this NY Times article for more information on how one tweet completely ruined her life. People make mistakes. It’s a shame that these instances are happening more often than not on such a public platform like social media. Literally anyone in the world can see, judge, and comment without knowing the context or the author personally. Bullying is easier than ever today because of social media, which means that more and more of it is happening.

It’s fine and dandy for me to sit here and say “social media needs to become a more compassionate place.” The fact of the matter is, this issue is not going to go away unless someone decided to step up and do something about it. In the mean time, everyone can do their part and stop clicking so frequently on these stories that have no worth.

 

Lions and Tigers and Media, Oh My!

Last week I went to the Nebraska Humane Society where Creighton journalism alum Elizabeth Hilpipre talked about running a social media strategy for the shelter. She touched on how she uses metrics and the good and bad of social media.

Walking into the presentation, I was unsure of exactly how a social media person spends their day. I understand now that this is a job that can require a whole team to do. I was immediately struck by the huge amount of work her job actually is. I think a common misconception made by a lot of people is that social media isn’t very much work. I mean, how much time can a few posts a day really take? The fact of the matter is that Elizabeth spends her time strategically planning each post. She looks at all of the analytics, carefully words each sentence, times out her posts throughout the day, and makes sure she targets the right people.

Elizabeth uses metrics to determine how many people her posts are reaching. If a post does well, she will do something similar again. If a post does not have many impressions then she will go back to the drawing board. Something interesting that she does is reply back to all comments, negative or positive. I can’t imagine how much time that must take. This is used to her advantage though because it makes the organization very transparent. They aren’t hiding anything and people are probably very grateful to hear a response back.

A lot of the ideas Elizabeth comes up with are humorous. Everyone loves a good laugh and a cute kitten picture. She talked about the time that she posted a picture of a sheep named Gage with a Christmas sweater on. The post quickly became viral and soon the entire country was talking about it. Through the “magic of the internet, Gage was reunited with his family.”

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to listen to her. If I only walked away learning one thing, it’s definitely that social media has more uses than the conventional ones. It can be used to raise money, awareness, reunite animals with their families, or sell a dog that’s been abused. Whatever the problem is, social media can aid in the solution.

Socially Stressed Out

According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, social media is not to blame for the stress in people’s lives. Surely active users of social media are more informed about stressful situations around the world or within their own community, however this does not create a direct correlation. The study proves that “there are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others,” and therefore induces the “cost of caring,” making stress contagious.

When I think about the results of this study and its implications in my own life, I disagree with the conclusion. Social media causes more stress than it’s worth. Users including myself are constantly comparing themselves to others. The fact of the matter is, people only post the highlights of their day. This creates a false representation and allows for others to think of themselves coming up short.

Watch this video by Mr. Stress Management for a more in depth analysis.

Another important aspect to look at in deeming social media as stressful or unstressful are specific case studies. When Facebook launched their “Year in Review” feature last year, stress for Eric Meyer became unparalleled. The feature allowed users to create a video of the most popular posts from the year and share it with friends. While this seems like a good idea, Facebook’s algorithm left out the humanizing aspect. For Meyer, memories of his 6-year-old daughter dying of brain cancer surfaced.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media! However, the day I created my first social media account in 2008 was the day I entered a stressful zone of unending FOMO (fear of missing out), addictions to checking my push notifications, and an unhealthy desire to measure up to my peers.

The 2015 GRAMmy Awards

McDonalds vs. Taco Bell. If you ask me, both are a solid choice for a 2 am munch run. But who instagrammed it better? Which company can claim final bragging rights when they are basically equal in everything they do? Let’s take a closer look:

picstitchIf we’re talking numbers, Taco Bell has roughly a hair more followers than it’s competitor. However, McDonalds at least has the decency to follow people back. Only 50 people but still. Taco Bell boasts over 650 posts compared to a mere 174 by McDonalds. Generally, Taco Bell will post everyday while McDonalds only posts roughly once a week. Taco Bell holds strong with 18-27k likes per post while McDonalds falls short again with only 11-16k. In a purely statistical/numbers battle, Taco Bell wins the GRAMmy award.

But likes and followers aren’t everything. I just broke the hearts of millions of teens around the country with that line. After reading TrackMaven’s report on Fortune 500 companies using Instagram, I can tell you that much more goes into these posts than promotional material for customers. Companies must connect with customers and create content that is interesting to every follower. Both companies capture images that are appealing to they eye and interesting to look at. Posts can involve promoting a product, however both companies do so artfully and tastefully. Not many hashtags are used on the two accounts. Although, a lot of Instagram users do use hashtags in regards to the two companies so they are still getting the mass exposure that they need.

Instagram is a great marketing tool to appeal to the younger crowd. Maybe this is why so many students swear by Taco Bell as the patron saint of college life. Not only for winning the Instagram contest by the numbers, but for also providing my dinner, snacks, and late night munchies for last 3 days.. congratulations Taco Bell. You have won the 2015 GRAMmy Award for best Instagram Account!

The Queen of Procrastination

It’s 12:3o pm on a Sunday afternoon. I was going to wake up early and be productive today but since I was up all night surfing the internet, following links that interested me, taking Buzzfeed quizzes, and “wasting time online” I was not able to drag my sleepy body out of my bed this morning. Fast forward 4 hours. I still haven’t done anything today. Why do I always do this to myself? All I’ve done today is waste more time online. I can’t start my homework now because the Superbowl is about to start, and what’s my plan during the Superbowl? Spend more time online watching the live Twitter feed. It’s currently 10:00 pm on a Sunday evening and I am just now getting around to this blog assignment. I always have the best intentions to get my homework done early but for some reason I seem to get distracted for hours on end every time!

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 10.08.11 PMYou’d think that all of this procrastination is a bad thing and that I need to start limiting my time online. I see it differently. Yeah, I spend a lot of time in front of a screen but it’s not all useless time. While I am distracted from my actual work I’m learning so much and gaining so many new insights, perspectives, and tidbits of information to relevant topics in today’s world. If it weren’t for my procrastination all weekend I wouldn’t have watched 3 Ted Talks. I wouldn’t have researched Superbowl statistics that oddly seem to hold true. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have had a break from the seriousness of school to allow my mind to relax so that I can put my best foot forward in my assignments.

I think Alexis Grant hit the nail right on the head when she refers to the fact that some of our best ideas stem from wasting time online. So instead of beating myself up next time for not following through with my too high of goals to actually do homework all day, I will proudly accept the fact that sometimes procrastination is key in gaining inspiration to finish those said goals. There is no reason we should be limiting our time online when online is the future.

 

An Entire Life’s Mission in ONE Sentence

My grandpa, bless his heart, really stepped up to the plate and became the stable father figure in my life that I needed growing up. Only living a block away from my home, I could literally throw a softball into my grandparents’ yard from my front porch. That is, once I grew up and became more serious about the sport and was able to throw long distances with ease. I remember spending long summer evenings tossing a ball around the yard with my grandpa only resting for a quick popsicle break. He was my first teacher, my first role model, my first friend. I was his student in everything from softball, to math homework, to climbing trees. He picked me up from school each day while my grandma would start preparing dinner for the three of us.

Reflecting upon the years that I spent growing up and essentially learning everything I know about life, I’ve come to realize that the person that I’ve become is the person that my grandpa taught me to be. I strive every day to empower others around me and see the good in them just like he does. I would consider my top three strengths to be ones that I learned from him: creativity, innovation, and the ability to think outside the box. While these skills were learned and more outwardly visible in his more simple activities of yester-year, I see myself proving these strengths as my own in my day to day life as a Millennial immersed in a digital world. I am seeing more and more that these strengths are timeless and can be applied to things past and present.

Above all, my biggest values always have and always will be honesty and integrity. These are things that my grandpa drilled into my head from a young age. During my grandpa’s years as a United States Marine, he learned these core values as well as his life motto: Semper Fidelis, meaning ‘always faithful.’ I can never think of a time when he wasn’t faithful to a person, commitment, or his relationship with God.

So with that, I’ve decided to create my own personal mission statement. This is a statement of all that I have learned to do and all that I strive to be because of my grandpa:

I hope to infuse passion and drive into those I’m surrounded by, to be creative, pioneering, and innovative, to be honest and uphold the highest integrity, to work hard and stick faithfully to commitments, to enjoy life, and to, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” 

I chose to end it with a quote from St. Ignatius because I truly believe that this quote encompasses all that I hope to do in the future. I want to take the world by storm, just as my most important role model did. Now I urge you, no mater how old, young, tired, or energized you are, think about your sentence. What defines you as a person and what do you want others to remember you by?

A Millenial’s Testimony to Social Media

Everyone remembers their first email address. You know, the one they created in 7th grade without their parents permission in order to create an MSN messenger account and MySpace profile? Mine was softball.lova12@live.com. I feel like you can tell a lot about a person by examining their first email account. Some people used kitty_luver95 or soccerroxmysox.36, but whatever it might have been, that was the beginning of it all.

I’ve had a variety of social media accounts throughout the last 7 years; Bebo, MSN Messenger, Myspace, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. I seem to go through ebbs and flows with each site. In middle school I was that rebellious pre-teen who got a Bebo and eventually Myspace without her mom’s permission and spent hours each night chatting with classmates using God awful acronyms such as ROFL, G2G, BRB, and TTYL. Eventually I grew out of that phase and officially switched to the “dark side” and became a Facebook user. Originally, I got a Facebook account because I kept getting Farmville requests from my friends. After months of using Facebook I decided to delete my Myspace account in 2009 because I thought it was too difficult trying to keep up with 2 social media sites. Boy, I wish I still had that mentality! 

Today I use multiple social media outlets AND have access to all of them at my fingertips all hours of the day. Long gone are the days that I only had a pink Motorola razor phone and limitedIMG_0976 access to the family computer each night. I am completely immersed in a digital world all of the time and I cannot imagine even looking back for a split-second. Here you can see a screenshot of my iPhone6 and the social media apps I use on a daily basis:

I use social media for all aspects of my life. Whether it’s to make plans with friends, inform others of cool events coming up, express myself through artsy pictures, get ideas for projects, read news articles, stay in touch with family across the country, or promote myself professionally, social media has so many more applicable uses to my life today than it did just 5 short years ago. It is a little concerning that social media is literally tied to almost every aspect of my life but I kind of like that. I feel as if I wouldn’t be as informed of things going on around the world or in people who are important to me’s lives if I took myself off the grid.

I am excited for this JRM327 class to learn about all of the positive benefits to social media in promoting business or my “personal brand.” Social media is the future and it is refreshing to take a course that is so relevant to the now.