When I wrote my first reflections on social media, I talked about reasons why I hate the Internet, or, rather, why I find the intangibility of the Internet and its immeasurable power to be incredibly frightening. In my blog post, I mentioned ways that people have used the Internet that have made me both proud and ashamed of the society we live in. As my opinions of social media have become more informed and mature throughout the semester, I realized that I was trying to relay the beginnings of my understanding of social media to be somewhat of a “double-edged sword,” as Professor Kane mentioned in the comments section of my blog post, and as we have touched upon many times in class. 

Throughout this semester, I have been astounded and inspired by the immense utility of social media, but I have also been humbled by the propensity to do harm by these same means. I have learned that in order to be the most effective and informed social media user, you must be cognizant of the audience that you have the ability to reach on the Internet, and how quickly a mistake can ruin your image. I have been surprised by the number of realms that social media has found application in – fitness, travel, craft beers – to name a few. I now find myself constantly thinking about how I could use social media to improve my experiences on a daily basis. That being said, here are just a few of the main things that I will always keep in mind from this class:

Know your mission, and stick to it. When implementing a social media strategy, it is imperative that you have a goal in mind, and that you tailor your actions to meet this goal. Staying true to your mission will add to your authenticity and credibility as a business, which, although intangible, is an incredibly important characteristic of a positive relationship with the consumer. Recognizing who your audience is and what they expect from you is a large part of this mission as well.

Create a conversation. Social media greatly improves the facility of engaging with consumers. Creating conversations with these consumers allows a business to better understand them and to tailor their future actions toward better meeting their needs. Creating a conversation with consumers also allows for the crowdsourcing of ideas, and makes innovating for the future that much easier. Since social media feels relatively informal, it also allows a business to connect on a more personal level with their consumers. Creating an emotional connection with the consumer forms the foundation for a strong and long-lasting relationship.

Take advantage of the free stuff! Social media makes it really easy for a business to collect data on what their consumers are saying about them. With sentiment analysis software, a business can analyze what consumers publish to public platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and can compile this information to get an idea of the response to a new product, event, etc. As mentioned before, they can also crowdsource ways to improve their business and innovate for the future, which is both convenient and cost-effective!

 

It was certainly an action-packed semester, what with all of the hacked Twitter accounts, the advent of Facebook Graph Search, the utility of social media in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Google Glass applications, April Fools shenanigans, and countless other events that were centered on social media, and this is part of the reason why I had such a positive experience in this class and am so enthralled with this area of study. This class was incredibly dynamic and I was so inspired by all of the knowledge that my classmates had to share. Professor Kane has created such an interesting and interactive learning environment that I looked forward to being apart of every week. 

Being a science major, I know that there is most likely one right answer to the majority of questions that are asked of me. I have found the opposite to be true in the case of using social media in business. There is no single, right way to use social media. It allows for innovation. It encourages people to harness its power, and although we have made great strides to do so, its practicality will probably never be fully understood. Using social media is constantly doing research, it’s carrying out hypotheses, it’s analyzing data. In a way, it is an on-going scientific research project on a topic that I am SO excited about. This class was incredibly refreshing and I was very lucky to be a part of it! Thank you to my classmates, and to Professor Kane for this experience!