What is Social Media?

What is Social Media?

Photo by Mark Hunter, licensed through creative commons. Some rights reserved.

We’re all doing this social media thing, but do we really understand what it is or why we’re so interested in it?

The social aspect of the definition refers the instinctual need we have to connect with other people to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas, according to Lon Safko’s book, The Social Media Bible.

The media part of the term is about how we use various mediums or technologies to create and maintain those relationships, while building trust.

Safko posits that social media is a new set of tools that allow us to connect and build relationships. He claims social media is doing what traditional mass media like telephones, advertising and televisions used to do.

I’m not sure I agree with Safko here. It seems disconnected to think that social media is replacing traditional communication tools. Perhaps a better way to consider the role of social media is its ability to add to or supplement existing tools. Social media is another method we can use to communicate.

Let’s Talk Nerdy!

Do you view social media as a replacement or a supplement to more traditional communication methods?

52 comments
3dmodelsart
3dmodelsart

I can't imagine my business without social media. Facebook and Twitter these days are a must have! They are essential in the communication with your clients and costumers.

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b.nijhoff
b.nijhoff

Ye I use social media for social contacts but also for my business. It really is a great way to find new customers. Thanks for sharing this great article.

malexander
malexander

Social media is more supplemental to traditional communication. For example, I saw a commercial for Target on television this afternoon. At the end, they gave a link to Facebook instead of the website. I think this demonstrates that social media is becoming more popular, but that traditional media is still used. I don’t think that social media will take over traditional communication as a whole. We will always have television, radio, and print media.

I did a social media training last week for a political organization in Oklahoma. The way I describe social media is that it is an ongoing conversation. On Twitter, you read people’s tweets and reply to them. On Facebook, you can comment on someone’s status with the click of a button. Traditional media is much more one-sided, though not always. A radio commercial is not a conversation with the audience. A newspaper can have a conversation with the audience because people can submit letters to the editor. In the Oklahoma Gazette, they have a section for public commentary every week. The Gazette is also free to the public and is able to sustain itself based on advertising, I imagine. It is an incredibly popular magazine in Oklahoma, so it is able to come at no cost to the consumer.

In January, I am moving to Doha, Qatar for a year. Yes, I will have a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. but nothing will replace actually being with my friends and family. Some people say that media is changing our need for human interaction. I don’t believe this to be entirely accurate. While it will be nice to stay in contact through the Internet, it is not a substitute for real conversations.

Social media is also very useful for instant news. Our society believes in instant gratification. That is, we want everything the moment we decide we want it. I find out about a lot of breaking news through Twitter. I learned that Osama bin Laden has died through a tweet from CNN. If I were just reading the newspaper every day, I would not have known until the morning. Additionally, I could see hashtags that referred to his death and I read things that people across the world were saying. After bin Laden was killed, it was discovered that a man in Abbottabad, Pakistan had live-tweeted the raid without even knowing it. I went back and read his tweets. It is fascinating to think that I can read a timeline of bin Laden’s death from someone is Pakistan just by clicking a link.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@malexander Madi, you make some great points here.

I think you can understand better the importance of one-on-one communication with those close to you when you've been without it for an extended period. For example, I spend two months (a month, return home, then another month) in Singapore teaching each summer. I Skype with my family when I'm there, but it certainly is not the same as seeing them, hugging them or just being around them every day. Technology has made it easier to communicate from distances, but it's still a lean form of communication.

I also wanted to point out that electronic media are increasing the conversation between media outlets and news consumers. In your newspaper example, a letter to the editor is no longer the only means for the reader to have his/her voice heard. Readers today can communicate directly with reporters via social media or email. I love this advancement because it makes the media much more accountable to the people who they claim to serve.

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FReyes
FReyes

Social media is a tool that gives us more means of communication. I don’t agree that social media has replaced the traditional way of communication, but it has given us more ways to stay connected with the world. It is easier now to stay in touch with family and friends by using facebook and twitter. It is also quicker and easier to obtain important information and news by using social media sites. Social media sites are not just useful for communicating and connecting with family and friends, it helps to build business relationships as well. Social media allows companies to advertise, interact with employees and customers, and receive feedback. Overall I feel that social media is a great way for individuals and businesses to communicate information, stay connected, and meet new people.

JKA
JKA

Social Media is really the way the 21 century communicates now a day. Instead of calling or even texting I could hop on Facebook talk to friends or Co-workers and get important assignments done or even just to get people to meet somewhere. Which than makes it rare for people to even make phone calls. An example one of my friends phone plan has unlimited text and data (mostly for facebook and twitter) for his Iphone but only 100 or 200 minutes for phone a month. Meaning he has no real use for his phone only so he can talk to his parents here and there.

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

@JKA That's true a lot of people are turning to Facebook to talk to co-workers as well as friends and family.

SavannahOwen
SavannahOwen

@JKA You say that it is the way of communication, but would you really use Twitter or Facebook as your primary ways communication? If your engaged would you just Facebook Mom and Dad? I would guess that your answer would be no--which then would contridict your statement that social meda is the way communicate. Yes, it may be one way to communicate, but do you really think that it is a replacement?

Lnkeesee
Lnkeesee

This is just my own view of social media. Social media is the way we interact with each other online. I believe it can be used as a way to meet new friends as well as stay connected with friends and family by updating what is going on in your life so your family feels like they know what you have been up to. In a way, Facebook is a more socially acceptable dating service. Someone may friend request you that you may not know and are able to view your pictures, area, and interest so they can see common interest to see if a person is worth talking too.. While this is a questionable belief the fact that it can also be used as a diary or a place to vent. I see blogs and social networking as a sight used to let out real emotions. It is sometimes just an extension of the phone.

For businesses, they can use it as an informal background check. By looking at pictures, statuses, blogs the employer can see past the interview questions.

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

In its current form, I view social media as a supplement rather than a replacement to methods that are considered "traditional". In an business environment, It is a means for broadcasters, advertisers, and other users of mass media to receive feedback and engage with their consumers. When television shows display a small lower-third with a Twitter hashtag so that users can easily join in a common discussion (as recently seen while watching Dance Moms on Lifetime), you see the desire to engage their viewers in a more active, rather than passive way. Anyone can have the television on in the background. Viewers who care about the program will hope to engage with it on a deeper level, making them active viewers- and more receptive to the messages (and, most likely, advertisements) linked to the programming. I doubt that the current social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter, Google+- will ever replace television or printed media, but these older mediums might be broadcast by utilizing new technology, such as the power of the World Wide Web.

I applaud the movement by companies to actually listen to their consumer and give them a way to interact with their brand. In the history of traditional media, there has not been an easily engaged, waiting group who has been eager to share their thoughts and opinions with hundreds, potentially thousands, of individuals in the matter of a few keystrokes. In this way, it can replace older, less effective mediums such as letters to the editor or company. It's also a great way for many individuals to see many points of view on a subject being dealt with, rather than letters to the editor that have gone through a selection process.

From the business side of things, I view it as a wonderful supplement that, with proper technology growth, could replace mediums that are less effective to the modern consumer. But, on the personal level, traditional means of communication cannot be beat. I spent this past summer in Chicago, hundreds of miles away from my family and closest friends. While there, I texted with my friends and family continually- but nothing replaced a wonderful phone conversation when I got to hear their voices. I stayed in touch with their lives through following them on Facebook and Twitter, but I always wanted to hear the posted information and personal details straight from the individual. New technologies, such as Skype, can help to improve these kinds of communication, but I doubt that any of these means- phone calls, Skype, text messages, follows on Facebook or Twitter- will ever replace the comfort and warmth of a personal conversation held face to face.

malexander
malexander

@aschexnayder

I definitely agree that social media has become a very useful tool for businesses. I have begun noticing that businesses often direct consumers to Facebook and Twitter to voice their concerns, comments, and questions. The most recent example I have seen is a commercial on television for Taco Bell, where they direct users to their Facebook page for a coupon.

Social media is very valuable for businesses because it connects them with consumers. In the business world, it is important to listen to the consumers and take their ideas into consideration. Social media provides an accessible way for consumers to contact businesses and give good feedback.

FReyes
FReyes

@aschexnayder

I agree with you that social media is a great way for businesses to receive feedback and interact with customers. Instant feedback can be beneficial and help a business improve in different areas. I feel that social media can also help companies build relationships with their customers and with other employees.

Sir-Roderick
Sir-Roderick

@aschexnayder I also applaud companies listening to their customers through social media. Not only can you reach more people in a timely and effective manner, it saves the company and their employees from manually doing surveys and like you mentioned letters to the company.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@aschexnayder Excellent post! I too love the idea that social media may be used to make companies (including traditional media outlets) more accountable and engaged with the publics/customers/viewers/readers they serve. This is one reason that I see the field of public relations booming. Mutual relationships are a must in today's media and business environment. One-sided communication just doesn't cut it anymore.

SavannahOwen
SavannahOwen

I find it quite annoying that one would refer to social media as a replacement to communication. I am what you could call old school. I enjoy talking on the phone, I hate texting, and I very rarely respond to Facebook messages. It is much easier to just pick up the phone and call someone. However, I do find it to be a very useful tool from time to time. When my boyfriend is deployed, we can use Skype, or even text for free via our iPads. It's also handy when your cell phone decides to bite the dust and you need to collect numbers from your friends all over again. What bothers me the most with social media communication is the amount of spam or just unwanted advertisements. I know that if I am using my phone, I don't have to worry about being interrupted by pop ups, chats, annoying event invites, etc. This is the reason why I love Twitter so much (I actually recently deleted my account because I was so addicted to it and needed to find better things to do with my time-HA!) because you can chose who you want to follow, who follows you, etc. Yes, Facebook and other social networking sites do have privacy controls, but I swear, at least once a week I get some annoying invite to games or lame parties that seems to haunt my page. So to answer your question, no, I don't think that it is a replacement, but I do find it to be a very resourceful tool from time to time.

FReyes
FReyes

@SavannahOwen

I feel the same way that social media is not a replacement to communication. It is another way to communicate and stay connected with family and friends, while meeting new people. I also feel that sometimes it is easier to just pick up the phone and call, but it is nice to have other options to communicate, like text, email, and social networking sites.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@SavannahOwen It's interesting that you chose to compare social media to telephone. I would guess that I'm much older than you, but I prefer texting, email or social media to telephone calls. Because of this, I stop myself to consider which medium is best for what I'm trying to accomplish. I agree that many times it's faster to call someone than to send an email or text message.

jcmalone
jcmalone

In some ways social media has replaced traditional forms of communication. I am much more likely to create a Facebook event than send out personal invitations and to call my brother in South Korea, I Skype him rather than racking up a ridiculous phone bill. Social media gives us options on the ways we decide how to communicate with people. I can email, Facebook, Tweet, Skype, blog, text and call all from my phone at any point in the day. Sometimes I choose to Tweet at a friend rather than texting them, yet I still find myself talking on the phone. I do agree that social media is a supplement to traditional media, but I feel that with increasing technology, traditional communication outlets will be used less and less.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@jcmalone What are the reasons that you choose traditional media? For example, you said that you still find yourself talking on the phone. Is there a certain reason that you choose to communicate that way in some instances and not others?

jcmalone
jcmalone

@profkrg I choose to call people when I need to know something immediately, or when I feel that I will be able get my point across easier. It is all about convenience, when I'm driving I call people, when I need to ask someone a question but do not need an immediate response I email or text. I use texting and Facebook messaging more for small talk and conversations with my friends. It all just depends on the person I am communicating with and why I need to talk to them.

Lnkeesee
Lnkeesee

I agree with you . There are some people whom i text because we are closer and there are people who i chose to talk to via social media. @jcmalone @profkrg

Nik T
Nik T

Originally I believe social media was designed to supplement the more traditional forms of communication. It's a great way to keep people connected, and connect with multiple people at one time. However I believe things have changed, and now for some social media is a primary source of communication. It is also easy to fall into the habit of checking things like your facebook daily ( I am on right now).

That being said though, I believe in emergency situations we always resort back to the primary forms of communication. For instance if you really want to contact someone you aren't going to send them a message on facebook or tweet it. You will pick up the phone and call.

Ashelihud
Ashelihud

@Nik T Things have changed, very true. It is only like the human race to keep moving forward. However, I miss the first generation of facebook, and twitter. Now there are so many professionals and co-workers that you can't even express yourself without offending someone. I don't like that. It was fun when it was simple. I actually de-activated facebook for 2 months and loved life. Granted when I got online I had nothing to do. Ha! But sometimes you don't even realize how many viewers you have watching your every internet move. Crazy.....

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@Nik T You hit on an interesting point here, Nik. When major news occurs, people do return to mainstream, traditional media. For example, many major newspapers sold record numbers of papers the day after Obama was elected. The same type of thing happened following the Hati and Japan disasters. However, during the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times received so much web traffic that they pulled everything but text off of their site so that it would load more quickly. Many people reported finding out that Michael Jackson died on Twitter. This suggests that we may go online for breaking coverage, but still consider print a more long-term and reliable option.

jcmalone
jcmalone

@profkrg This is a very interesting point. I check my Twitter countless times a day, and when I do see a breaking news story, I either turn on CNN or check their website. When I saw on twitter that Barack Obama was going to be making a very important announcement I immediately turned on the news to find out that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Without Twitter I would never have known to turn on the news and I would not have found out until the next day when I picked up the paper.

Sir-Roderick
Sir-Roderick

@Nik T I agree with your post. I always believed social media to keep people connected. You are right also about connecting with multiple people. I always hear storires of people starting relationships or even marrying someone they chatted with online. I also believe that you can't put emergency situations with social media. Of course you need to resort to other means to reach people in a situation of that manner.

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

@Nik T I understand what you mean towards the end of your post, but honestly a lot of people know if they want to get a hold of me but do not have my number, I'm very reachable via Facebook & Twitter; this has to do with the fact that my accounts are synced with my phone. I know a lot of people are in the same boat.

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

It is my opinion that social media, while being a GREAT method to market to and network with other people, cannot completely replace traditional communication methods. On the contrary, social media and traditional methods (phones, billboards/other types of advertising) should be coupled and in my opinion can compliment each other.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@AustinClarkEnnis Could you elaborate a bit, Austin? Why do you think social media cannot replace traditional media? How do you see them all working together?

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

@profkrg I feel like it cannot replace social media because the traditional media was not meant to have the same purpose as social media. So in that way we should integrate traditional and social media together such as linking/syncing them, like some of us already do. For instance, if someone "tweets" me or writes on my "wall", it automatically goes to my phone by email and push notifications.

mking90
mking90 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Recently, two teachers from my high school asked to be my friend on Facebook. It took weeks for me to decide whether to accept them or not based on statuses, pictures, comments, wall posts, etc. I was afraid they would see. Although I am a senior in college, I still feel a disconnect/level of respect for those in authoritative positions. I would never want these people to view me in a way that would disappoint them. With this being said, I did finally accept the requests, but I monitor the things I say a lot more, something I should have done from the beginning. Now, if I want to rant, I take my frustrations to Twitter, which seems to have more of an "anything goes" feel to it.

Social media, as stated by ashelihud, is divided into age groups. I am often astonished at some of the things my 13-15 year old cousins say online. They do not have to worry about jobs or universities seeing these things yet; but, I do hope by the time they do, they are aware of the consequences of social networking sites.

Online dating is another issue. I cannot imagine meeting, falling in love, or even marrying someone I "met" online. Call me old fashioned, but the thought of "serial killer" comes to mind! There are more filters and safer methods of meeting mates online, but it is so impersonal. Methods of communication have become so extreme that one can compare an excessive use of texting to online chatting. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other sites allow video chat to allow face time with the person you are "getting to know."

The more advances in technology the easier it is for people to meet, argue, fall in love, market products, stalk others, etc. Social media is convenient, but very impersonal. I like actually taking my applications into my future employers rather than clicking a 'submit' button online, knowing all the "friends" I have on Facebook, and seeing who is following me on Twitter. Social media is great for marketing, but when it comes to communicating with peers, family, and old acquaintances, I would much rather pick up a phone to have a real conversation!

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

I would disagree with you that social media is completely impersonal. I think it can help to improve relationships. For example- my best friend is on Twitter, so I follow her. I can't count how many of our conversations were allowed to go to a deeper level because we didn't have to explain what had happened- instead, we were already clued in. This gave us the chance to discuss why a situation upset her, or excited her, instead of wasting the limited time we get to spend together on catching up on the facts so we can talk about the feelings.

Sure, social media done wrong can be completely impersonal, and I don't think that time spent on Twitter or Facebook will ever replace a good hang out session. But I think they can help to improve the limited opportunities that one does get to spend with their friends, and allow those conversations to go to a place they may not have otherwise reached.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@mking90 I wouldn't advise you to vent on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, I would be concerned that there are things on your Facebook wall that made you consider for such a lengthy period whether you wanted to "friend" two of your former high school teachers. Don't let privacy settings fool you into thinking that items on your social network are actually private. There are many ways to get around privacy settings. My advice to you, although this is not the purpose of this class, is to clean those accounts up ASAP and get a journal :)

Nik T
Nik T

@mking90 I love that you said argue haha because I like to posts things on facebook just to stir up some sort of debate. I felt the same way when I was starting to receive friend requests from people I viewed as authority figures. Honestly I have stopped using facebook as much lately simply because of that reason. It kind of took the fun out of it, where you could post obscene lyrics or anything you thought really because you knew your peers would understand. Sometimes people from different generations can understand each other, but a lot of the time they can't so now facebook has become a little more "watered down" if you will.

Lnkeesee
Lnkeesee

I don't get on twitter at all really but the couple of times i did it seemed as though people were venting or complaining if not to tell good news. It is pretty much a public diary. @Nik T @mking90

Ashelihud
Ashelihud like.author.displayName 1 Like

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, it's all just a supplement. Personally I try not to post anything on the web that I will regret if I look back at it in 6 months, or if it is not a good representation of myself. Social media is basically a way for me to keep in touch with all my friends. Now days, I don't have a friend that doesn't have either a facebook or twitter account and I love that! If they don't answer their phone I know they will see their facebook wall. Therefore this would make it a supplement. Relationships are best in person. Nothing can replace that, not even a skype video chat.

I would have to disagree with Safko when he says social media can "build relationships." Social media is a whole different breed that I watch differ from generation. Children I babysit for make completely different posts than I do with inside jokes and trends that fit their age group. Whereas those childrens' parents only have a facebook to follow their young adolescents or keep in touch with those old high school buddies. My age group (early to mid- 20's) is a mixed one I feel. We have the immature users and the ones who keep professional. The occasiona ones still trapt in high school or college and the ones shifting to use social media to work up in their career. Ending with the most simple person using social media as another "cell phone."

In my opinion, nothing can replace a phone call or a text message. However it comes down to personal preference, how you want to communicate someone.

jcmalone
jcmalone

@Ashelihud I agree that nothing can replace an in-person relationship, but I do feel that social media can build relationships. I have met people on vacation, added them as a friend and have kept in touch with them, and now we talk regularly. Social media allows our relationships to have no boundaries and has expanded my friend group tremendously.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@Ashelihud You make some very good points. I do, however, have many relationships that I have formed just via social media. I have an entire network of bloggers, media advisers, journalists, and professors who I interact with on Twitter. I consider many of them to be colleagues with whom I have strong professional relationships. Many of them I have not met, but I feel as if I know them because we interact daily. How would you categorize these relationships?

Ashelihud
Ashelihud

@profkrg Well that is difficult to answer. If you feel as if the relationships are strong than it would be a regular one. I'm sure you would have an easy icebreaker when you meet them for the first time, if you ever do. Such as, "Now I can put a face to the messages!." Yet, you miss out on all the body language and sense of humor. There is so much inferring in reading people's messages. Most of the time I am sarcastic and it is so hard to convey that via web. I feel sometimes I come across snobby or unemotinal but I am the opposite... most of the time! They are I'm sure not the ones you would pick to put in your fav. 5 on a cell phone plan but I guess a realtionship has to start somewhere. I personally want to hang out with people in person. The web just keeps me in touch with ones I cannot.

SavannahOwen
SavannahOwen

@Ashelihud I agree, nothing can replace a phone call, or meeting for dinner or a cup of coffee. Just because I write on a friend's wall once a month, but haven't seen them in 2 years doesn't mean that we still have the relationship that we had 2 years ago. People are constantly changing and growing, and it's important to build personal relationships, and not strictly online based relationships.

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

@Ashelihud Definitely agree with your post. You pretty much wrote everything I was thinking and therefore didn't leave much for me to say on my own post.

eayoung
eayoung

Social media is the most popular form of social media. Since social media comes in multiple ways, of course it is replacing the traditional way people communicate. Look at the telephone, who takes the time out to actually place a regular phone to someone. Either we text each other or video chat. On all smart phones your have some type of social media website to keep connected to your friends and family.

I think social media is any other way to communicate with multiple people other than the regular phone conversation. So things such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and all other way to conncet to people is social media. Plus, the social media replaces television because you can connect to a more target audience vs on television the ad reaches any and everyone regardless if people is interested in it or not.

Social media is here and it is taking over all traditional marketing and communicating. Social media in my opinion allows marketers to reach more people and be more creative. When someone creates a blog, you can use it to the best of your ability vs. on television you have to meet certain guidelines. Social media allows someone to be a free spirit and communicate the way they chose.

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

@eayoung But do you think Facebook, Twitter, etc. will take over television or the printed media? Granted, both are making slow but steady transitions to using the internet as means for broadcasting rather than printed documents or over-the-air, but I still see video and text communication as tools for the mass media to use, and I don't think that will be ending any time soon. Just because the technology is changing doesn't mean that those "traditional" mediums are dying- it just means they're taking advantage of advances in technology.

I think that's why it's so important to distinguish between using the technology and the forms of media themselves. Just because it's used over the internet doesn't mean that it's not related to a more "traditional" form of mass media. And, I'm sure, some of our grandparents would laugh at us calling the television "traditional"!

eayoung
eayoung

@aschexnayder @aschexnayder I absolutely agree Professor Griffin, I refer to two different things in my post: social media taking over traditional media and the benefit of advertising with social media vs traditional media. Cause with print media you can find a app on your phone to read updating gossip. They are used in two different ways. And that’s what I was referring to. I am not saying Twitter will completely take over the phone conversation. I am saying if you look at statistics, you will see that while “watching TV”, people will either be on Twitter or Facebook, so how likely is it they are REALLy paying attention to the TV. Let’s look newspapers, newspapers are a traditional media. While touring The Oklahoman last year, all their employees told our class sales are down because people uses podcasts, or have apps on their phones for news, neither of those ways are traditional but yet it is over taking newspapers. Traditional ways to communicate are usually use for the age demographic 50 and up that do not know how to use other ways mostly. But from ages 13 to 49 we all use some form of social media. Do I think newspaper will ever get to the point they are not published, absolutely not, newspapers will always be around, just slowly unseen.

Sir-Roderick
Sir-Roderick like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have to admit that I am looking at Social Media from a different view lately. I have been looking at social media from the standpoint of solely communcating with friends, family, and just something fun to do. So to say my definition for social media from that standpoint is a place to connect with people and state your opinions. Also to add, it is a place to express yourself (pictures, information about yourself, music, etc...). Now looking at it from a business view, it is hard to define myself. It is new and exciting for me to explore the many ways of using social media for business, mainly for the possibilities and the connection with your customers.

I would have to say in a way it is replacing traditonal communication methods. Maybe not so much from a business standpoint or maybe just for some individuals. Most of the news my peers and I hear are from social networking sites facebook, twitter, etc... If I want to know about movies, games, music, current events, listings of events in the city, or just other random things, it is just a post away from asking.

Nik T
Nik T like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Sir-Roderick I agree with you there. At first i really only thought of social media ask connecting with your friends and family, and maybe thats all it was. But now it has evolved into a business tool, and not so much of a comfortable environment where what you say and your opinion can't really harm you in the long run. Now your posts can be scrutinized and taken out of context and possibly harm your career in the future.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@Nik T@Sir-Roderick I'm not certain that social media ever was a place where you could say what you wanted without fear of retribution. I think we may just have viewed it this was initially. The one thing we know for sure is that social media is not private. It never has been. So perhaps we just had a false sense of security in the beginning.

aknuck
aknuck like.author.displayName 1 Like

At my organization, it's my job to explain the concept of social media and its many platforms, guide staff and membership in integrating it into our communication tactics, and to be the social media "police," teaching them proper online etiquette and digital citizenship.

Honestly, it's hard to define the Facebook phenomenon, because it can be used for so many things (i.e. p.r., marketing, sharing pictures of puppies, cyber bullying). All the options make it hard to steer people in the most effective direction, at least for businesses and organizations. Nonetheless, it's important to have a voice on such a huge platform where people are inevitably talking about you and your brand. It's important to be tuned in to what their saying, set the agenda for conversations and show them that you're listening.

I see it as a way to enhance your normal communication, rather than replace it. It's an excuse to say you've checked in on an ill family member because you've written on their Facebook wall; and in the same way, it's flippant to say you're communicating with your target audiences if it's solely or primarily through social media.

malexander
malexander

@aknuck

I like that you pointed out the many different uses for Facebook. While I see Facebook as an essential tool for marketing, my grandmother sees it as a way to share pictures of her new grandson to her eighteen Facebook friends. I think that depends on how people view Facebook. I use Facebook as a political tool. Whether it is networking with other politicos or organizing a canvassing effort, Facebook has a different meaning for me than it does for other people. My mom mainly uses Facebook to stay connected with her friends who live overseas and in other states.

I definitely agree that there is etiquette for social media. Some people find it acceptable to use foul language on Facebook. While I don’t necessarily mind if other people do it (it really depends on the situation), I would never cuss on Facebook because I know that many of my Facebook friends are great business connections and using foul language is unprofessional. I also have Facebook friends who are professors and state legislators. I would hate for any one of them to see something profane on my Facebook that would potentially damage our relationship.

profkrg
profkrg moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

@aknuck Excellent points, Ashley. There are certainly lean and rich media. We also have created socially acceptable methods of using communication tools. Like you said, you have to call your ill relative or stop by for a visit. Checking in on Facebook would be considered rude in this situation. There are a lot of unwritten rules, aren't there?

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