SOCIAL MEDIA: BOON OR BANE? Roberto M. Macatuggal, Ph. D. Web 2. 0 has enabled web-based services, such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, etc. , that emphasize collaboration and sharing among users. This platform (Davis, 2012), described simply as the read/write web, allows users to be both consumers and producers of online content. It is an interactive two-way web; a place where everyday folks with Internet access can create and edit stuff. Davis compares Web 1. 0 and Web 2. 0: Web 1. 0 was a place to go and get, while Web 2. 0 is a place to be and do.
Gregory (2011) clarifies further that Web 2. 0 allows for participating and sharing in the production of resources. It is about communities, participation, and peering. A social network (Wikipedia) is a theoretical construct that is used to study the relationships between and among individuals, social units, or even whole societies. Georg Simmel pioneered in early structural theories in Sociology and Jacob Moreno is credited for having developed the first sociograms in the 1930s to study interpersonal relationships. Web 2. 0 social networking working capabilities have spawned the development of social media tools.
What is social media? According to Parker (2011) social media are the uses of Web technology to spread messages through social interaction that happens online. Rean John Uehara (Webdesigner. com) defines social media as a combination of human interaction through web applications where people produce their own content, mold their own experience, and define their online presence. A loose definition of social media is that it’s like a country, people gather and interact with massive amounts of people from their area and abroad. It’s really a broad place, both wonderful and terrible depending on its use.
Two of the most popular social media are Facebook (visited at http:// blog. facebook. com/blog. php? post =287542130) which claims to have more than 400 million users and Twitter (http://blog. twitter. com/2010/02/measuring-tweets. html) receiving around 50 million updates a day from users, which is an average of 600 tweets per second. Parker (2011) differentiates the following social media tools: 1. Blogging – an informal conversational medium for writing and publishing content online on regular basis. (e. g. , Blogger, Typepad, WordPress). 2. Microblogging – a short form of blogging where posts are usually limited in length and format. e. g. , Twitter, Friendfeed) 3. Social Networking – a way to engage and interact with a specific online community by way of a fan or profile page. 4. Social Bookmarking – a central location for posting links to useful resources which can be seen and shared by other users. (e. g. , Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious). 5. Multimedia – Sharing rich media such as video, images, and presentation online. (e. g. , YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr). 6. Reviews and Opinions – a way for customers to share opinions and reviews of products and services online. (e. g. , Yahoo! Answers, Epinions, eHow). 7.
Wikis – a central repository designed to be edited by a group rather than one person. (e. g. , Wikipedia, Wikia, Wikitravel, Dealipedia, Wikimapia). What are the benefits of social media? Nakul Arora wrote in his blog that in today’s fast growing world, social media is the latest thing which has made its presence felt virtually across all the sectors. Facebook and Twitter are two big players having majority control within social media. Thus, it becomes very important for any organization today to be present in some form or the other on these networks so as to connect with the wide following these networks have.
These networks have also taken individualism to another level altogether with each person having a considerable say over his friend group. Thus if any educational institution at all succeeds in winning over a student to avail of its educational services, the chance of influencing his friends also increases. According to Arora, there are 5 things that educational institutions can do to tap into the students on Facebook and Twitter: 1. Forming a dedicated team. This aspect involves creation of a dedicated team for the sole purpose of managing the social media setup for the institution.
This is very important in the present environment there being more than one department in an institution. It is also important to ensure the smooth functioning of the online groups with the social media team managing and ensuring a proper sync between all the different aspects of the institution. An example here to show the need of such a team would be to simply take a case wherein an ex-student of the university sends out a job opportunity to a group of present students online. Now, the social team would keep track of this and forward it to the respective department which an then ensure that the opportunity is properly utilized by the students. This dedicated team would also ensure that the institution’s updates are well planned and organized instead of doing them at random. This would thus, cater well to the different groups of ex, current and prospective students. 2. Giving before receiving. A common rule of the internet is that you have to first give before you receive. Any person would only follow a particular group or institution if they are sharing things that are unique and beneficial in some way for the person.
This is not a tough thing to achieve, for every institution is unique in its own aspect and thus, creation and sharing of unique things wouldn’t offer such a big problem. Also, the university can utilize its previously existing case-studies, problems, etc. for the purpose of engaging the prospecting and other interested students. It can also share newsletter articles about happenings in the institution with the people who are interested in keeping updated with the affairs of the school. 3. Forming and coordinating student online groups.
Students are any institution’s biggest asset and can be the best people to spread the message of the happenings and current life of the institution. Thus, any institution should maintain an online students group where it should form a dedicated team of student volunteers to share the latest things from the campus. This would give the prospective students a real glimpse of the actual life in the campus and also help them connect with the current students. The ex-students can also use this group to remain connected with their Alma Mater.
Such groups can also be formed for specific purposes: a group can be formed solely for the purpose of sharing internship opportunities by the alumni with the current students. Another such group can be exclusively for the alumni and staff members to reconnect and be in touch. Also, smaller groups can be formed to influence students who have negative attitudes and perceptions about the school. 4. Presence of influential personalities on the networks. Every college has its heroes: professors or teachers who are famous for their service in a particular field of study.
These are people who have a huge fan following and thus, any update that they make will be followed by a large number of people. The university has to ensure that professors of such repute have their presence in the social world as well and they also communicate on a regular basis with their followers. Many institutions have already initiated this with their chancellors and heads having an active Facebook or Twitter account. They can actually hold open forums, discussions or simply answer some queries occasionally on the social media. 5. Trying to create a better world.
The institutions can also use the social media for their aims towards providing a good education to all. This can be done with the creation of free online courses which can be taken by anyone and everyone. The world has been propelled in that direction with the introduction of Apple’s iUniversity which gives the universities an opportunity to provide a host of courses, either free or paid. This will go a long way in developing the reputation of the university while benefiting in the process due to development of good content and new courses.
This will help towards creating a better world where quality education will be free and available to all. As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, organizations of all types and sizes are recognizing the ways in which social media can help them better understand, respond to, and attract the attention of their target audience. As a result, businesses are now jumping on the social media bandwagon at a rapid pace, embracing blogs, social networks, wikis, and other vehicles to achieve their marketing and public relations goals.
The types of benefits that corporations achieve with an effective social media strategy (http://shiftcomm. com/social_media_benefits. html) are the following: 1. Get the message out faster – and to more people. Social media enables more rapid sharing of information. It may take hours, or even days, for a new announcement to reach the end consumer through traditional channels. Why? Because when a press release is issued, a journalist or writer must first wade through all the sales and marketing lingo to find the key points.
Then, the content must be re-purposed in article format, and sent to an editor or proofreader before it is published. Social media vehicles, on the other hand, allow for instantaneous dissemination of not just news, but images, audio, video, and other multimedia content as well. And because releases geared toward social media outlets contain only key highlights, pertinent facts, and hyperlinks to related statistics and quotes, the information they contain can be immediately picked up and posted by bloggers and other online journalists.
Social media also provides more widespread coverage, enabling breaking news to reach a much larger and broader reader base than standard media outlets alone. While magazine readership and the number of available print publications continue to decline, the number of consumers using the Internet to access and share information continues to rise sharply. For example, one recent study showed that almost one out of every four Internet users – over 41 million people total in 2006 – visits MySpace on a regular basis. 2. Improve branding.
Social media, and blogs in particular, can be a highly useful tool for enhancing both awareness and image. Blogging can help “spread the word” about a company, its products, and its services to more people, dramatically increasing brand recognition and awareness. Additionally, social media can enable executives to gather input and feedback directly from their target audience, and use that intelligence for more effective reputation management. Insight into why people like – or hate – a brand is needed to help change and control audience perceptions and preferences. 3. Boost the impact of direct marketing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key component of today’s direct marketing and lead generation strategies, and social media has proven its ability to significantly complement SEO initiatives. Many social media techniques – such as frequent use of common jargon and key phrases, title tags, ticker symbols, and links to blogs and other relevant Web content – can dramatically improve search engine rankings. Additionally, while SEO relies on just a handful of popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive target prospects to a site, social media expands the potential audience by creating alternate channels.
For example, when content is published to a site, and that content is then linked to delicious or reddit, it can generate a tremendous boost in Web traffic. Many companies also find it much easier to generate compelling content that is likely to be picked up by bloggers, than it is to keep up with the “rules” required to rank high in today’s popular search engines Parker (2011) suggests five (5) steps in the effective use of social media in business: 1. Think of the bigger picture. Be consistent with the message you wish to convey across various tools. 2. Use less rather than more media tools.
It is important to consider your objectives as a basis for selecting the appropriate media tool. 3. Appoint a social media champion. The person would be responsible in engaging the clients / customers regularly; develops strategies to promote the business through social media. He/she would also be responsible in coordinating employees’ personal and social media activities. 4. Tracking the effect. Track the impact of social media efforts on the business such as increased traffic to the website of your business. 5. Take action. Retain the social media tool that gives you more business.
Schools have likewise taken advantage of social media to reach out to as many students as possible. For universities competing to attract top students, it’s no longer enough to have a glossy brochure and a sleek website. Schools like Johns Hopkins are reaching out to engage with applicants on Facebook and Twitter. They’re also finding that a robust social media campaign, along with such creative features as student-run blogs, can lure prospective students while a stale online presence can turn them off. College admissions officers are indeed learning to interact with students where they hang out: online.
According to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 100% of universities surveyed use social media to communicate with students, up from 61% in 2007-08. The study found that 98% of the responding colleges have a Facebook page and 84% have a Twitter account. What are some of the misuses of social media? Social media, according to Prateek Shah, is as prone to misuse as your computer is to virus. One of the misuses of social media is defaming people/groups/religions/communities. This is possible because of the anonymity of the person posting the derogatory statements.
Celebrity fake accounts are being made and untrue stories about them are being spread. ‘Hacking at home’ has led to stealing of passwords and accessing the private lives of others, leading to relationship woes and even divorces. A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that four out of five lawyers reported a growing number of divorce cases that cited evidence derived from networking sites. What is at stake when social media is misused and abused? Because of social media misuse and abuse, Uehara (posted at Webdesigner. om) says that you as a social media user may lose: 1. Your soul. If you have a huge audience and you make one little blunder, people will strike you with their pitchforks. 2. Your integrity. Huge claims, especially in public, can easily be cross-examined. 4. Your privacy. Often, people would share snippets of their personal lives on social media sites which is tantamount to loss of privacy. 3. Your job. People have lost their jobs because of a single tweet! 4. Your future. People remember. What you share now with people can haunt you several years from now.
The future of social media Gregory argues that social networking through the web with sites such as Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, and Flicker is becoming a widespread if not dominant form of communication among Internet users, and most popular phenomena prognosticators forecast that this type of collaborating will continue and grow exponentially. Prateek Shah warns that regular attempts at curbing the freedom of social media will be made, but the truth is that it is leading us towards a new world where the lies will be trashed and the guilty will be charged.
He says that It will not happen overnight but change has begun and it is for the common good. In the Philippines, our legislators have crafted House Bill 3732, otherwise known as the Freedom of Information Bill. Social Media and the Internet will be among the enablers of the Freedom of Information Bill, which will boost transparency and minimize graft and corruption in the government. Maintaining ethics in the hyper-networked world of social media Tyler Pennock, Director of Social Media, Rude Finn Creative Edge formulated the following ethical guidelines in the use of social media: 1. Honesty: State nly what you know to be true – and be clear about opinion or conjecture vs. fact. 2. Transparency: Be straightforward about who you are – and who you’re representing online. 3. Respect: Respect for yourself, your peers, and even your adversaries. 4. Privacy: Treat the intimate details of others as you would your own personal information. 5. Relevance: Ensure that the content you’re posting is relevant to the audience and the venue where it’s being posted. 6. Responsibility: Take ownership of your online activities, the content you’ve created, and any missteps you’ve made along the way.
Conclusion Social media is man’s creation to respond to a need for expanding the network of social relationships, towards the realization of a real global village. However, the effectiveness of such social media depends on the selection of the tools that suit one’s purposes and objectives, including their proper use through the observance of ethical practices that respect the rights and uphold the dignity of the human person. References Arora, Nakul. 5 Ways Educational Institutions Can Use Facebook and Twitter For Studies And Coordination.
Davis, Cheryl Ann Peltier. (2012). The Cybrarian’s Web. London: Facet Publishing. Gregory, Vicki L. (2011). Collection Development and Management for 21st Century Library Collections: An Introduction. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. Parker, Catherine . (2011). 301 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Your Marketing. New York: McGraw-Hill. Prateek, Shah. Use, Misuse and Abuse of Social Media. Posted at http://greensmyles. com/2012/06/the-use-and-misuse-of-social-media/ Uehara, Rean John. Social Media Misuse That Could Cost You Big Time. Webdesigner. com.