The hardest thing about talking about social media is defining what it means, and how it changes the meaning of what it associates with. Does the work “like” actually mean that someone enjoys something, or is it now just a verb used when talking on Facebook? When people say retweet aloud in everyday conversation to something they agree with, does that count as being a part of the Twitter community? People my age have taken social media to the next level, incorporating it in “real life.” While most affiliate social media with the millennial age exposing themselves willingly online, networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, have all expanded their reach and made the networks a viable part of modern day business, and it’s sinking into everyday life. To really define what the term social media means, the ways in which people use the platforms along with if they are successful or not is critical.
I personally use social media to make keep in contact with friends and family. Being two states away from my hometown, it’s the easiest way to stay in the know.The occasional post or Tweet makes users feel as though they are keeping others update on their lives. However, it has been shown that those who check and use social media sites on a regular basis tend to feel more down about themselves, saying that they are underachieving much more than those who claim to not be active on social media. This is claimed to be because social media makes people see others success, with favorites and likes, highlighting their own failures, and making themselves attempt to appear more successful on social media. (Fowler, 2015). This means that while many people only intend to use social media to keep in touch with one another, the statistics show that people actually use it in order to make themselves look better online than they are in person.
However, social media is now evolving into even more than fake personas, “catfishing”, and being completely about people. Marketing on popular media sites is now a common part of any marketing plan. Whether it be through promoted posts or a verified account for a brand talking about themselves, companies are taking advantage of the social media revolution and making it into money. But, this is not an easy task. While saying something on Twitter or Facebook can be good because of the immediate views and feedback, when the feedback is negative it can be hard to control. For example, On October, 18 2015 IHOP tweeted an offensive comment about women’s breasts that received negative attention and became a national news story. (Valinsky, 2015). This controversy shows that while promotion on social media is very important, it is still something that is an entirely new process that changes every time a site or service changes its own features. However, it is the way in which the services get revenue and many “Instagram Famous” or verifies Twitter accounts have learned how to make having a presence on social media into a full blown career.
There have been attempts to fully define what social media means with no luck at one true definition. The Web Analytics Association attempted to compile responses on what social media was in order to find what it meant. They ended up with four definitions. (Web Analytics Association, 2010). Social media is something that changes so much that it is hard to define. Because everyone uses it for different reasons, and with corresponding different success rates, it meaning changes based on the user. I personally think that it is at its core, the 21st century way of staying in contact with one another and expressing ourselves. It’s handwritten letters, public service announcements, news, and community all rolled into several different feeds. Social media is basically a digitized (and fantasized) version of life.
Fowler, Ryan, (2015) Tech city news: Social media use leaves millennials feeling like ‘generation #fail’ Chatham: Newstex. Retrieved on Novenmber 10, 2015, from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1702635048?accountid=39473
Web Analytics Association offers social media definitions for comment. (2010). Direct : Magazine of Direct Marketing, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/233659911?accountid=39473
Valinsky, Jordan, (2015, Oct. 19) IHOP’s suggestive tweet about women’s breasts falls flat. Digiday. Retrieved November 11, 2015 from http://digiday.com/brands/ihops-suggestive-tweet-womens-breasts-falls-flat/