Written by Terri Reddout
Like Godzilla, there’s no way we can stop social media growth
As a child, I used to spend my Saturday afternoons watching Godzilla movies. Nothing could stop this monster. Not tanks. Not machine guns. Not weird green gas. Nothing. As I recall, the people of Earth never defeated Godzilla. He’d just get tired of all the destruction and mayhem and would quietly sink back into the ocean.
While pulling information for this blog I was overwhelmed with the growth of social media and how it’s infiltrated all aspects of our lives. It made me think of those old Godzilla movies. Like Godzilla, there’s nothing out there that can stop the growth of social media.
As a broadcaster I immediately became aware of how social media democratized the spread of information. Now anybody can spread information about anything they want. Like this guy and his video on the scientific problems with the 2014 movie version of Godzilla.
I’m on Facebook… Like a billion others
According to Statista, there were more that 2.38 BILLION people on Facebook as of the first of 2019. That’s up from 1 BILLION back in 2012.
I’m not sure whether I’m Facebook user #884,592 or #993,395 or whatever number member I might be, but I did join Facebook back in 2008. My students encouraged me to do so. My rep became “cool prof who’s on Facebook.” (Not so cool anymore. Chances are your grandparents are on Facebook now. Everyone is on Facebook.)
By 2010 I had changed jobs. I worked at the WSU Research Center in Prosser and used Facebook to communicate with business colleagues.
Then, I went through Washington State University’s employee orientation. They told me I could get fired for checking my Facebook page! Amazing! They still thought of Facebook as solely personal use. Weird, since one of the things I planned to do is create a Facebook page for my organization in order to better communicate with our clients.
How things have changed. Now, I have two active FB accounts… one for my personal life and the second for my professional life.
I use FB as part of my teaching strategy (like our COM 201 FB page). In fact, the only thing that beats Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest report on social media usage, is YouTube.
I am not the only one using social media. We all are. More and more each day. Think back 10 years ago. How did you use social media back then? Compare that with how you use social media today. Different, right?
The one form of social media that I’m having a hard time adopting is Twitter. I joined early on and quit after having my phone light up with posts from my local sports guy wondering if it was okay to take a nap on Mother’s Day. I DON’T CARE. I just wanted scores.
Yet, everyone talks about Twitter. “We need to start a Twitter account.” “We’ll attract a lot of people with a Twitter page.” “Keep calm and tweet on.”
The truth is, Twitter came out with a bang and quickly hit a plateau. According to Pew Research (see chart above) Twitter is a sad seventh behind YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Linked-In and Snapchat.
Even Twitter admits it’s got some problems. Despite President Trump’s rampant tweets, Twitter use stalled. After the first tweets people stopped checking back regularly and there wasn’t a significant increase in new tweets. In fact, a 2018 stock market announcement had Twitter admitting they had lost over one million users in United States. Part of the reason for the drop in users can be tracked to Twitter’s efforts to eliminate “fake” Twitter accounts. But, the same PC Magazine article says, teens tend to flock to SnapChat or Instragram rather than Twitter.
In a 2014 New York Times article Nate Elliott, a principal analyst for Forrester Research said, “The lack of growth there comes from Twitter’s relative lack of innovation. The experience on Twitter today is the same experience people have always had on Twitter.”
Karole Honas and I have been friends for longer than most of you have been on this Earth. Karole is a news anchor in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Part of her job is to make daily Facebook posts on her television FB page. The consultants say it’s an important channel to connect with viewers. But, if Karole worked on the East Coast, the consultants would have Karole tweet daily.
Why? The consultants say west of the Mississippi River is Facebook country; east of the Mississippi leans toward Twitter.
The Pew Center Research backs this up. Twitter users are more educated, more urban, younger and more affluent.
While Twitter may have that going for it… the numbers just don’t back up the perception I feel the millennial generation has about Twitter. According to Statista, Twitter usage falls far behind Facebook, Facebook messenger, LinkedIn, Skype and Instagram. Geez, even Tumblr gets more action than Twitter. What is the big deal about tweet, tweet, tweets? (Rant complete.)
Everyone is a reporter
As the main broadcast news professor at Central, I teach students how to be reporters. The truth is, in this age of social media, everyone is a reporter. Social media has democratized communication. In this TED Talk video, social media theorist Clay Shirky explores some of the ways social media is… and will… make history because everyone is both a consumer and a producer of information.
Thanks for returning our hat, Pharrell
Arby’s is an example of some of the ideas Shirky talks about. They’ve adopted the concept that they don’t just broadcast messages any more… they respond to the messages others send out. And Arby’s has gotten quite good at it.
Arby’s hadn’t planned on making a post during the Grammys a couple of years ago, until musician Pharrell Williams showed up wearing this hat. Social media lit up with posts about how Pharrell’s hat looked like the Arby’s logo. Arby’s responded with this tweet.
In their blog, Arby’s estimates that one tweet equaled $22 million in exposure for the restaurant. And they kept the Pharrell hat social media posts going. Then, when Pharrell auctioned his hat for charity, Arby’s proudly made this post.
The Assignments (There are two assignments here)
Your assignment for Blog #7: Social Media is to explore.