Rough Draft- “The Zen of Social Media Marketing”

Content

–       Originally marketing was one way street with a target demo, now it’s about using the internet to get your message across so that you can move people to take action and buy into your brand

–       Now marketing is a two way conversation with real costumers

–       ACT- attract, convert, transform

–       General overview of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Social Advertising, and online video

Course concepts

–       technological determinism- speaks of how the platforms inform both the brands and users

–       mixed modality- utilizing multiple technologies at the same time, sites interconnected

Audience

–       people who are not familiar with online marketing and the online world at all- new users of social media sites

–       not only were the social media “instructions” basic, the marketing ideas presented in the book were basic as well

–       perhaps the target audience were not only for small businesses, but microscopic ones, such as the case she mentions of the woman selling handmade quilts out of her home

Helpful

–       be real- don’t pretend to be someone else who likes your brand in order to promote it. humanize your brand by making your twitter handle your name and engaging in conversation with the consumer

–       do not use auto follow programs that automatically refollow your new followers

–       do not beg for new followers, earn them

Flaws

–       no real statistics to back up her claims. Uses her own experiences (many of them) to justify what she says but there are no hard facts

–       does not give any clue about user culture and the different types of people that use each site. Talked more about the functions of the sites than the people using them. very on the surface

–       writes an entire chapter on Google+ when it is not a very popular social media site that would benefit a brand as well as others

Accepting Mom’s Friend Request

As I did this week’s readings for class, I could not help but think about the most recent episode of Modern Family, “Send Out the Clowns.”  This particular episode deals with Claire’s introduction to Facebook and how her daughters, Haley and Alex, react. Although the situation is highly satirical and an over dramatization to what may go on between parents and children in real life households, the TV show does call attention to the relationship between parents and youth when it comes to social media.

After Claire confronts her children about accepting her Facebook friend request, her kids privately tell the camera, “We got her request the first time but ignored it. I can’t have her on there snooping around seeing what I’m doing at parties. Or posting pictures of us on family vacations wearing old, dorky clothes ” (Modern Family).  This resistance of parental access completely represents danah boyd and Alice Marwick’s Social Steganography: Privacy in Networked Publics definition of privacy according to teens and its importance to them.  boyd and Marwick note, “the absence of parents is regularly a key factor for teens to feel as though they have privacy” (boyd and Marwick 3).  At one point in the episode Claire continues to nag her kids to allow her to access their profiles.  She says, “what is so private that I can’t possibly see it?” (Modern Family).  To this, the girls quickly answer, “nothing,” yet they still resist their mother’s access.  Similarly in boyd and Marwick’s piece, 17-year-old Bly takes the same stance. “It’s not like I do anything to be ashamed of, but a girl needs her privacy. I do online journals so I can communicate with my friends. Not so my mother could catch up on the latest gossip of my life” (boyd and Marwick 5).  Even on a public forum, teens consider what they post private.

To many teens’ dismay though, parents are finding ways to access their so-called “private” information.  According to a survey by OnePoll, 55% of parents check up on their kids’ social networking profiles.

So how do teens deal with parents who try to snoop?  In the Modern Family episode, Haley tells her mom that she didn’t even receive her friend request, claiming, “you know they have a lot of blocks on there to protect kids from weirdos” (Modern Family).  Haley uses her mom’s lack of knowledge about the medium to her advantage.  In fact, this avoidance strategy is not far off from the teens that use Text Free and Text Plus as a way to trick their parents into bypassing information they might want to see.  Both Haley and the Text Free/Text Plus users can get away with lying to their parents due to their parents unfamiliarity with technology in the first place.

I think adults’ lack of knowledge about social media makes them feel as if they should be more concerned about youth social media use than what is actually necessary.  This reminds me of Amy Adele Hasinoff’s piece, Sexting as media production: Re-thinking dominant ideas about teen girls and sexuality online.  Hasinoff says the that moral panic surrounding social media is similar to that of the, “fears about the telephone and the telegraph when they were first introduced: that young women might use these communications technologies to make contact with inappropriate or dangerous romantic and sexual partners” (Hasinoff 4).  With each new technology that is introduced, adults repetitively let social anxieties fall on the technologies themselves, rather than addressing the true, underlying problems in the situation.  Because adults don’t fully understand the platforms, they blame the platforms, when really they are nothing but media for affairs that would probably still happen if the technology didn’t exist.

To that end, Claire demonstrates her lack of understanding about Facebook by asking her daughters to, “tear down the wall,” when she is tagged in drinking photos from college. This brings up a point that I don’t think was mentioned in the readings, but surely exists in everyday life.  Do parents want privacy from their children just as children want privacy from their parents? Teens may not want their parents to see what goes on their profiles because they are embarrassed or gossiping, but parents may not want their kids to see reconnections with ex-lovers or college partying pictures.  As being the biggest influence in a child’s life, parents seem to have a bit at stake too when they allow their children to access their social media world.

Social Media: A Love Story

As I perused the Internet for the perfect article to analyze, I was disappointed with my findings.  All of the articles I encountered offered lists of reasons why social media would ruin relationships, and although it is true that relationships in the social media realm are not always rainbows and unicorns, I was determined to find an article that was more than a laundry list of social media’s detriments.

I then came across the article “Tweeting Ur Luv on #Vday” and was instantly hooked by its playful title.  To my delight, the title was not the only impressive aspect of the article, for the text and embedded video were up to par as well.

I first watched the video titled Social Media Saves Valentine’s Day, which was produced by Socialnomics author Erik Qualman.  Although this video did demonstrate a failed relationship due to social media, it did it in a fun, exciting way, which actually highlighted many of the benefits of social media.  Because of the high-speed qualities and sense of community exemplified by social media, this man was able to pull off a Valentine’s Day that was too good.  This light and positive representation of social media continued throughout the article.

In addition to its optimistic approach, I also really enjoyed the article’s well roundedness.  Instead of focusing on one specific couple, writer Bob Strauss references couples that reconnected on Facebook, a single woman without a Facebook, Twitter feeds, and other online communities to portray social media’s affect on Valentine’s Day.

Strauss speaks of two couples that were old friends before reconnecting on Facebook that eventually turned into romantic partners.  Strauss emphasizes the importance of social media’s impact on sustaining these relationships, but what I would have liked to know more about was how the early reconnection had gone about.  Donath and boyd say in their article “Public Displays of Connection”, “the public display of connections found on networking sites should ensure honest, self-presentation because one’s connections are linked to one’s profile” (74 Donath and boyd).  How did these couples find each other on Facebook? Did they actively seek each other out or did they stumble upon one another by chance going through a mutual friend’s network?  Were the ways the other person was depicted on Facebook representative of the old friend they remembered, or were new aspects of this person’s identity on display for them to learn? I think it would have been interesting to know a little bit more about the beginning stages of these couples’ interactions.

Strauss also presented a counterargument to social media’s relationship benefits by offering Amanda Taylor’s “social media is the devil” opinion (Strauss 1).  Not only did I like the way this opinion downplayed the article’s optimistic skew, it also served as lead-in to a community of girls who are alone on Valentine’s Day, Single Girl Problems.  This Twitter feed perfectly demonstrates Baym’s attributes of online communities such as sense of space, shared practice, and shared identities.  It is a place where single girls who feel alone go to feel not so alone anymore.  They identify with each other while submitting their own “single girl problems,” and gain emotional support within this social space, which Baym defines as,“the ability to turn to others for comfort and security during times of stress, leading the person to feel that he or she is cared for by other,” (Baym 83).  There is a “shared sense of who ‘we’ are” and different users assume different roles, as I would assume there are definitely some “lurkers” hanging around Single Girl Problems (Baym 86-87).  Strauss mentions other websites that typify Baym’s five characteristics of online communities such as, Cheaterville, Cupidville, and Karmaville as well.

As opposed to the film Life 2.0 this article presents its story with a much lighter connotation.  Life 2.0 dramatized each storyline it followed.  Whether the users were depicted as creepy, psychologically damaged, or even as part of a community, each scenario was seen as extreme.  This article is quite the opposite, showing a multifaceted view of social media.  One woman quoted in the article says, “I use social media to say Happy Valentine’s to all of my friends and family,” but she also distributes candy to her co-workers because she, “wants them to know that they have a real friend” (Strauss 1). The juxtaposition of using social media, and acknowledging her “real” friends shows that there are no extremes depicted in this article.

After looking at all sides of the spectrum, the article has a slightly optimistic tone and seems to conclude social media has a positive affect on relationships by bringing people together.  Overall I think the article did a great job at assessing the situation from all angles—he examined different platforms, different types of relationships, and different outlooks—and left the reader with a substantial understanding of the different realms of social media and their affect on Valentine’s Day.

SNS: Looking At The Bigger Picture

In their article, danah boyd and Nicole Ellison inform the reader of all things social network.  They define “social network sites,” give plenty of examples throughout history, and shed light on studies surrounding these sites.  David Beer responded to boyd and Ellison’s article critiquing the questions that arose in their writing and suggesting alternative areas of SNSs that should be paid more analytical attention.

To begin with, Beer does not think an emphasis should be put on boyd and Ellison’s distinction between “social network sites” and “social networking sites.” Boyd and Ellison say that “social network sites” should be the terminology used, since people “are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social networks” and therefore are not “networking” with strangers (boyd and Ellison 211). Beer says although this differentiation is true, it should not be focused on, and instead categorization of sites within a broad term, such as “Web 2.0” should be utilized (Beer 519).  I tend to agree with Beer.  Boyd and Ellison’s argument seemed a bit insignificant, and even when I read Beer’s classifications, such as “wiki’s, folksonomies, mashups, and social networking sites,” the organization of what was to be studied already seemed clearer than the confusing “networking” matter (Beer 519).

Another topic that Beer critiques is boyd and Ellison’s separation of online and offline living, and the difference between Friends and friends. Boyd states, “Friends on SNSs are not the same as “friends” in the everyday sense” (boyd and Ellison 220).  Beer disagrees with this assumption.  He believes, “we cannot think of friendship on SNS as entirely different and disconnected from our actual friends and notions of friendship, particularly as young people grow up and are informed by the connections they make on SNS” (Beer 520). I completely agree with Beer, especially in today’s world where children are growing up with technology in their lives as opposed to being introduced to it in the middle of their teen/young adult years.  The usage of social media has become second nature in today’s culture, and I think today’s relationships online are just as “real” as relationships offline.  I would even go as far as saying online relationships could be more “real” than offline ones, because of the easy accessibility, mobility, and permanence of social media platforms. Of course this can be refuted with SNS “flaws” such as lack of authenticity and elimination of face-to-face social cues, but overall online and offline relationships are both substantial in their own ways, and often enhance one another, eliminating the divide between Friends and friends.  To make matters more complicated, I definitely think there are different categories of friends in the online world, as presented by this diagram by Mike Arauz.

Perhaps scholars could delve into this topic more. I would find it very interesting to see if they agree or disagree with these classifications.

Beer is also keen on taking a capitalistic approach at studying SNS.  Beer says that SNS users’ information is being, “used to predict things about us, to find us out with recommendations, or even to discriminate between us as customers” (Beer 525).  Beer is adamant that scholars are aware of this fact SNS are used as data sources and can be manipulated by users so they are “treated favourably” in a capitalistic sense (Beer 525).  Beer says all of this with a quite wary tone, yet I don’t seem to understand why.  As long as no privacy barriers are crossed isn’t this capitalist-consumer SNS relationship a good thing? Businesses are able to target niche audiences and consumers will encounter advertising that caters specifically to them.  I know that I personally like picking a commercial that is more suitable for me when I’m watching a TV show on Hulu, I will occasionally click on a band that is advertised on the side of my Facebook profile, or I’ll even check out a promoted tweet on Twitter. No matter how private one’s profile is, I think SNS users are aware that the Internet is indeed a public forum, and the information published on it can be used in a myriad of ways.

Overall, I like Beer’s broader questions about social media.  Boyd and Ellison do a good job at analyzing the platforms themselves, but what about the people that use them? What does the way people utilizing SNS say about society? Social media has become so engrained in today’s culture that we must not study it as an entity separate from daily life, but as an ingredient and indicator within it.