Instinctively, humans want to feel as though they are part of a group. This is known as belongingness. This is why the Communication Revolution also known as Social Media is attractive to humans and continues to grow, because it forms group cohesion. This group cohesion isn’t selective or limited; the entire world is part of it! Social Media knowledge and utilization is becoming a necessity to every contributing member of society, no matter their age, gender, race, or economic standing. Career paths, social interaction, and marketing have all made extensive transitions into this medium with momentous returns of effectiveness. Social media has placed everyone on the same playing field (minus celebrities) by challenging their ability to catch attention using social media content.
Employers look to social media profiles now when rating a potential employee, pop culture is currently being dominated by social media, and businesses ranging from jump-start to Fortune 500 have focused their message distribution to social media. This research paper will analyze social media channels, their effectiveness and usage from a wide array of aspects, and what this means to the future of human interaction. The objective is to not only inform, but to also persuade to prepare for this change so that one can continue to stay ahead of the curve. Competition, in its simplest form, encourages an urgency to stay well informed.
It is important to make clear that social media is not something new. Long before Facebook and its massive catalog of 800 million users, there were social networking sites that never reached the pinnacles of Mark Zuckerberg’s powerhouse. In fact, social media’s existence has been around for quite some time. MySpace might have been the first of its kind in popularity, but not the innovator of such. Nicole B. Ellison and Danah M. Boyd make the claim in their research article Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship that the first known social networking site was SixDegrees.com.
SixDegrees.com reportedly launched in 1997, which allowed users to create personal profiles, list their friends, and beginning in 1998, surf these friend lists making it the first functioning social networking site on what we used to refer to as the World Wide Web. (Ellison & Boyd 2007) AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) can also be contributed to as one of the first social networking sites. Classmates.com was the first of its kind, where people were categorized by organizational networks which allowed people to find others they attended school with. A number of social networking sites gained popularity from 1998 until 2003 that eventually faded away, with a few of the current social media powerhouses emerging from the crowd. LinkedIn
and MySpace in 2003, Facebook (Harvard Only) released in 2004.
Other social networking sites such as YouTube, which is the world’s second largest search engine behind Google did not launch until 2005, and Twitter did not launch until 2006 (Rosenbaum 2010). Pinterestwas
the fastest social networking site to reach 10 million users, launched in 2011. Facebook needed 2 years and 120 days to reach 10 million users; Google+
surpassed that amazing feat in 16 days.
This global phenomenon is not showing any signs of slowing down. Social media has bullied its way into every category of human life. A research study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 56% of employers check the social network profiles for potential employees. Of the 56% of employers that look to social media for information regarding potential employees, 98% percent check LinkedIn profiles, 84% check Facebook
, and 42% check Twitter
when seeking information.
This recruiting method is quickly shifting the way people are using social media for personal usage. Users are becoming more aware that what they post on social networking sites are not exactly private, even when their privacy settings are set. 1 in 3 potential employees that were not offered the job after an interview claimed that they were not hired based of what their potential employer found about them on social networking sites; sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The claim that social media is depleting face-to-face interactions may be true, yet that has no correlation to being less informed. Facebook’s market penetration is certainly impressive: it can draw more than 80% of the undergraduate population in many colleges (Acquisti and Gross 2006).
This allows anybody with a basic sense of internet usability to utilize this network to research individuals. Sites such as Spokeo.com give anybody the access to an individual’s personal information such as street address, wealth and property values, registered relatives, among many other things. This is considered “public information”. The information provided through social media from a much broader standpoint is a dream-come-true for business marketers, marketing teams, and marketing strategies across the board. The ability to track your target market and monitor their trends is something businesses have been striving to innovate for years. Companies are currently being built from the ground up around social media, which leads into the second section of The Social Media Revolution.
The digital world of the present-day is considered a game changer.
“If brands want to stay relevant in the digital era, they have no choice but to adapt. Social media is more than media – it’s a cultural shift” social media researcher Alex Hisaka argues on her blog (Hisaka, 2012). Traditional marketing tools are becoming obsolete by the day. Take newspapers and radio advertising for example. Weekend Edition conducted a case study in 2010 that tracked their social media usage. Their web presence was impressive, totaling 1.3 million users per month. Their radio presence was even more impressive, totaling 5.3 million listeners. The research suggested that 51% of their listeners utilized social media, and 32% of their listeners were followers of theWeekend Edition
via social media (Facebook & Twitter
This is an example of how radio stations have adapted to the social media revolution, which has completely evolved their service from just a listening experience. Radio stations are forced to reevaluate their products and services, then make additions where needed. The listening experience is Weekend Edition’s intentions, yet they are finding that the information they distribute is becoming more accessed through social media channels. One can make the claim that Weekend Edition isn’t even a radio station anymore, seeing as over half of their distributed media is consumed through social media.
Business Insider reported in 2010 that once social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube took off in 2008, over 200 newspapers have shut down or stopped putting out a print edition since. An even more alarming fact is that over 40,000 jobs in the US print sector alone were lost from September of 2008 to September of 2009. Shifts in how people want to receive their information have left some businesses out in the cold and dark world of tangible media. Why would people go to the supermarket to get their daily newspaper or even have it delivered to their front door when the entire world is accessible through a Smartphone? Social Media quickly adapted to mobile applications, and in turn have experienced returns of investment newspaper and radio stations would salivate over.
In February of 2012, a sample produced by the market research firm Lab42 estimated that there are 290 million tweets sent per day, which is a double from the sample taken in March of 2011. Seeing as how there are 86,400 seconds in a given day, which means there are 3,356 tweets per second. What a newspaper or radio station will never be able to do is monitor and track what people are reading or listening to the way social media does. Social media even gives the consumer the ability to “Like” or retweet. This is an act of reciprocation that gives businesses another medium to track what people want to see more of.
So how are businesses cashing in on this revolution? From a retail standpoint, businesses are utilizing social media to help drive sales like never before. Pop culture has a large swing in this success, and businesses are jumping at the opportunity for celebrities to simply tweet their brand out. The Huffington Post reported in January of this year some examples of celebrities paid tweets. Kim Kardashian profited $10,000 for a single tweet paid for by Shoedazzle.com. Other celebrities such as Snoop Dogg are paid $8,000 per sponsored tweet, and Charlie Sheen raked in $50,000 per tweet from Internships.com. What about return of investment on these 140 character endorsements?
Shoedazzle.com, the subscription service website, increased subscriptions from 3 million to 10 million in a little over a year’s time. (Lindvik 2012) Lance Armstrong sponsored non-profit organization is a great example of how social media is utilized. The ability to sell, sell, sell is not the most beneficial tool social media presents to businesses. It is the access to listen that drives social media success, which in turn drives organizational success. Jump-start social media marketing companies understand that, and show proof with their revenue dollars.
Paranormal Activity was a huge box-office success, and much of that success can be accredited to social media. The movie was created with a $15,000 budget, and profited over $7 million. The marketers of the horror film developed a “Demand Widget” included with the trailer. This widget allowed viewers to share the trailer, and then click “Demand!” in a specific city. The marketers also expressed that if the widget generated 1 million hits the movie would be released nationwide. This was statistical data to investors that would fund the distribution that there indeed was a demand for this movie to be played across the country. This “Demand Widget” was sharable through email, blogs, pasting, Twitter, and Facebook. The most effective were Twitter and Facebook.
Sorav Jain conducted a case study to show the effectiveness of social media in this instance. Paranormal Activity generated a worldwide conversation that was a trending topic on Twitter. The social media marketing campaign grew even bigger once viewer reaction videos were being posted. This also allowed feedback, and whether or not the feedback was good, it generated conversation.
This monumental shift in the way that we communicate known as social media gives anybody or anything a chance to be heard. Engaging a worldwide conversation using an extremely low budgeted movie is possible. Social media gives businesses the opportunity to create a demand, as opposed to measure it. Scarcity, the sixth “weapon of influence” observed in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s theories on influence, is regarded as perhaps the most used tool in social media other than reciprocity. When there is a perceived scarcity of something, the demand rises. The marketing team of Paranormal Activity utilized this principle of influence with their development of the “Demand Widget”.
This is used on social media platforms when businesses move from the relationship engagement into a sales tactic. Offers such as “Special Edition” lead people to believe there are only a certain amount, a certain time, and a certain person that will receive this “special” product. Demand rises, which in turn drive sales. Social media enthusiast Paul Gillin writes on his blog “Twitter is still a mystery to many people. How can rich conversations form when people can only speak 140 characters at a time? It turns out you can say more in 140 characters than you may think, and Twitter’s forced brevity actually encourages people to share information they wouldn’t communicate through long-form media like blogs or even e-mail” (Gillin, 2012). It is common on Twitter for businesses to exude this “weapon of influence”, especially when the scarcity buzz is being created without any of their efforts. Trending topics can falsely inform users that a product is limited, sometimes by accident.
That is why credibility is so important in Twitter. While everyone has a voice, not all voices are to be digested. Sifting through the noise and finding the most substantial voice in any given space is an essential networking duty in this channel. The determining factors of catching social network users’ attention are:
· Is the content relevant?
· Is the content engaging?
· Does the content reveal something new?
· Does the content offer the viewer something?
Cialdini suggests that teenagers are the most sensitive to the scarcity principle because that specific time period is characterized by curiosity of individuality. Apple, Inc. was very successful utilizing the perception of scarcity “weapon of influence
” starting with their revolutionary product, the iPhone. While the iPhone contributed to social media success, social media contributed a great deal to the iPhone’s success.
Every year starting with their release in 2008, Apple has released a new version of the iPhone. The additions and changes to the device are kept to a minimum so that consumers want more in the next release. Apple creates a huge buzz for the release, and then strategically announces a number of phones they will initially ship to retailers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The chaos that proceeds is astounding. Consumers camp for weeks outside of retail stores awaiting the newest device, just to be the first to experience the “newest” technology. Once the production line catches up, the interest is on to the next one. What many of these consumers fail to realize is the technology is obsolete to Apple; they are always two steps ahead.
Social Media has yet to reach its peak, and is showing no signs of a plateau in effectiveness. The world we live in is rapidly changing, especially considering the effectiveness of social media as shown in this paper. Whether or not this is a good or bad period for humanity has yet to show any direction. People are more connected than ever before, yet there is still a large portion of the population that has yet to adapt the communication revolution also known as social media.
Employers are currently using social networking sites as a reference in determining an applicant’s personality. Postings on social media networks are determining factors of these analyses. Photos are another way for potential employers to judge an applicant. For example, college students are losing internship opportunities because of their photos that may contain alcohol or other “party” behaviors. Businesses are using social media to track customer demands, and adapting their entire business structure around these conversations. The social media revolution is regarded as the most fundamental shift in the way we communicate since the Industrial Revolution. Educating, understanding, and utilizing the social media realm will continue to be a necessity for as long as the internet is functioning.
Social Media giants such as Facebook
, and Pinterest
are all vehicles of information that have revolutionized human interaction. Word of mouth interaction is still relevant, yet it is unable to be tracked in the way that social media is capable of. In a world full of followers and “Likes”, how will social media evolve in the near future to counteract the overload of information that is being distributed? Only time can tell, and the time is telling us social media is here to stay.
This research paper should have offered a much more in-depth analysis of social media from many different aspects such as the history, what is social media, and provided case study examples of the relevance of social media in today’s society. It is important that the severity of this communication revolution is understood in order to keep up with the fast paced society we live in. The opportunity to capture information is there one second and gone another. Making definitive selections of the content that is distributed is also important in order for our society to take full advantage of this newborn medium of information sending and receiving.
· Ellison, Nicole and Boyd, Danah B. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship
· Rosenbaum, Steve (2010). Meet the Father of the Second Largest Search Engine in the World The Business Insider: The Wire
· Society for Human Resource Management Research Spotlight: Social Networking Websites & Staffing (2011)
· Sorav, Jain (2009) Social Media Case Study: How a $15,000 horror movie made more than $7 million with the help of Twitter & Facebook
· Cialdini, Robert B. (2009) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)
· Lindvik, Lauren (2012) Shoedazzle Scraps Business Model, Expands Into Apparel & Lingerie
· Gillin, P. (2012, April 18). Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter in plain English. Retrieved from http://gillin.com/blog/