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
The Faces of Facebook is a real time visual of the number of people joining Facebook each second. Open this app to see something amazing.
Initially, the background looks like a bunch of little colored dots. Click on one of the dots and you’ll discover each dot is the profile picture of a Facebook user. As Facebook grows, so does the number of dots.
I’m not sure if I’m Facebook user 1,223,604,978 or some other number, but I did join Facebook back in 2008. My students encouraged me to do so. My rep became “cool prof who’s 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, 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 manage FB accounts for CentralNewsWatch and for my sister’s store, Linda’s LaBella Casa. I use FB as part of my teaching strategy (like our COM 201 FB page).
According to the Pew Research Center’s latest report on social media usage, I am not alone. Think back 10 years ago. How did you use social media back then? Compare that with how you use social media today. Different, right?
Twitter tweaks me
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, Twitter is a sad fifth behind Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Linked-In.
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. Growth has basically come to a stop.
In the 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 is 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. On a global scale it’s really just a blip… as this chart from Statista illustrates.
Most famous social network sites worldwide as of April 2017, ranked by number of active users (in millions)
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.
Your assignment is to explore. Do some research about social media. Make sure to use reliable sources. Write up what you learned on the What I know that you don’t know about social media discussion group. MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR RESEARCH CITES. (It can be as easy as saying “According to the Pew Research Center report…” and then provide a link.)
- 10 points for describing what you learned
- 10 points for demonstrating you’ve actually done some research (cites)
- 5 points for reading and commenting on two group member’s posts.