Andrea Misir on Apr 20th 2011
As students, we hear a lot about how social media can inflict major damage on our reputations. Actually, we hear horror stories of how embarrassing pictures and colorful status updates have jeopardized employment opportunities and have, in some cases, resulted in serious lawsuits. Are we to believe that the only thing social media is capable of doing is highlighting how rambunctious and irresponsible we are when we post pictures of drunken escapades the night before on Facebook? Or what if we are so explicit in our expression that whatever blogs we have will be constantly scrutinized or, at worst, jeopardize employment opportunities because managers don’t like what their employees say on their own time? (Which by the way as far as I’m concerned IS a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.)
This is why I’m writing this: to implore everyone that social media is not out to destroy you. Social media can work to your advantage if you know how. There is so much potential to be explored in the many social media platforms. Especially for my generation. The slight tragedy is we aren’t even aware of the opportunities literally at our fingertips.
A wonderful case in point would be Facebook, the arguable titan of the Internet (it’s okay Google, you’re still closer to taking over the world.) Like many newsworthy subjects, so much emphasis is placed on the negative aspects. The privacy concerns, unauthorized distribution of user data, third party app developers who are indifferent towards user data, and of course, the constantly changing user interface. As an avid Facebook user myself, I will admit that these issues are, for lack of a better term, a pain in the ass to deal with. However, as a marketing major, I understand how much of a treasure trove the Facebook user database is.
Because so many people use Facebook (500 million worldwide and counting,) and they spend so much time on Facebook (if I recall correctly, people spend as much time on Facebook as they would watching TV but don’t quote me on this,) one can only be blown away with the vast amount of communication that takes place via Facebook. The countless status updates, event pages, and shared links are remarkable for spreading viral mayhem. The sheer volume of individual user actions translate to Facebook being, in most cases, THE primary medium for information retrieval. This can be indicated in some cases when people literally check their Facebook page as soon as they wake up or when they won’t even reply to others through phone, text, email, or IM but through a Facebook wall post/message/chat. Pretty powerful huh? Here is just a handful of how businesses have been able to harness the power of this immense social network:
- post jobs jobs
- measure performance via new engagement metrics
- creating conversations and ongoing dialogue that gauge user interest and provide piercing insight
- exclusive deals/discounts and contests
Not bad for a demonic entity, eh older generation? I know it isn’t, that’s why more of you are flocking towards social networks than us. It’s okay to admit when you’re wrong. We won’t rub it in your faces…that much