Chapter 4: Social Media
From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media
Social media are computer-mediated technologies that allow individuals, companies, NGOs, governments, and other organizations to view, create and share information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features:
- social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications,
- user-generated content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, as well as data generated through all online interactions, are the lifeblood of the social media organism,
- users create service-specific profiles for the website or app, that are designed and maintained by the social media organization, and
- social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals and/or groups.
Social media use web-based and mobile technologies on smartphones and tablet computers to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals, communities and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content or pre-made content posted online. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals. Social media changes the way individuals and large organizations communicate. These changes are the focus of the emerging field of technoself studies.
Social media differ from paper-based or traditional electronic media such as TV broadcasting in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. Social media operate in a dialogic transmission system (many sources to many receivers). This is in contrast to traditional media that operates under a monologic transmission model (one source to many receivers), such as a paper newspaper which is delivered to many subscribers. Some of the most popular social media websites are Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), WhatsApp, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Baidu Tieba, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Gab, Google+, YouTube, Viber and Snapchat. These social media websites have more than 100,000,000 registered users.
Observers have noted a range of positive and negative impacts from social media use. Social media can help to improve individuals’ sense of connectedness with real and/or online communities and social media can be an effective communications (or marketing) tool for corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, including advocacy groups and political parties and governments. At the same time, concerns have been raised about possible links between heavy social media use and depression and even the issues of cyberbullying, online harassment and trolling. According to Nielsen, Internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 99 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 66 billion minutes in July 2011. For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income.
There is an increasing trend towards using social media monitoring tools that allow marketers and companies to search, track, and analyze online conversations on the Web about their brand or products or about related topics of interest. This can be useful in public relations management and advertising campaign tracking, allowing the user to measure return on investment, competitor-auditing, and general public engagement. Tools range from free, basic applications to subscription-based, more in-depth tools. Social media tracking also enables companies to respond quickly to online posts that criticize their product or service. By responding quickly to critical online posts, and helping the user to resolve the concerns, this helps the company to lessen the negative effects that online complaints can have about company product or service sales. In the US, for example, if a customer criticizes a major hotel chain’s cleanliness or service standards on a social media website, a company representative will usually quickly be alerted to this critical post, so that the company representative can go online and express concern for the sub-par service and offer the complaining person a coupon or discount on their next purchase, plus a promise to forward their concerns to the hotel manager so that the problem will not be repeated.
The “honeycomb framework” defines how social media services focus on some or all of seven functional building blocks. These building blocks help explain the engagement needs of the social media audience. For instance, LinkedIn users are thought to care mostly about identity, reputation, and relationships, whereas YouTube’s primary features are sharing, conversations, groups, and reputation. Many companies build their own social “containers” that attempt to link the seven functional building blocks around their brands. These are private communities that engage people around a more narrow theme, as in around a particular brand, vocation or hobby, rather than social media containers such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. PR departments face significant challenges in dealing with viral negative sentiment directed at organizations or individuals on social media platforms (dubbed “sentimentitis”), which may be a reaction to an announcement or event. In a 2011 article, Jan H. Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy and Bruno S. Silvestre describe the honeycomb relationship as “present[ing] a framework that defines social media by using seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups.”
The elements of the honeycomb framework include:
- Identity: This block represents the extent to which users reveal their identities in a social media setting. This can include disclosing information such as name, age, gender, profession, location, and also information that portrays users in certain ways.
- Conversations: This block represents the extent to which users communicate with other users in a social media setting. Many social media sites are designed primarily to facilitate conversations among individuals and groups. These conversations happen for all sorts of reasons. People tweet, blog, make online comments and send messages to other users to meet new like-minded people, to ﬁnd a romantic partner, to build their self-esteem, or to be on the cutting edge of new ideas or trending topics. Yet others see social media as a way of making their message heard and positively impacting humanitarian causes, environmental problems, economic issues, or political debates.
- Sharing: This block represents the extent to which users exchange, distribute, and receive content, ranging from a short text post to a link or a digital photo. The term ‘social’ implies that exchanges between people are crucial. In many cases, however, sociality is about the objects that mediate these ties between people—the reasons why they meet online and associate with each other.
- Presence: This block represents the extent to which users can know if other users are accessible. It includes knowing where others are, in the virtual world and/or in the real world, and whether they are available. Some social media sites have icons that indicate when other users are online.
- Relationships: This block represents the extent to which users can be related or linked up to other users. Two or more users have some form of association that leads them to converse, share objects of sociality, send texts or messages, meet up, or simply just list each other as a friend or fan.
- Reputation: This block represents the extent to which users can identify the standing of others, including themselves, in a social media setting. Reputation can have different meanings on social media platforms. In most cases, reputation is a matter of trust, but because information technologies are not yet good at determining such highly qualitative criteria, social media sites rely on ‘mechanical Turks’: tools that automatically aggregate user-generated information to determine trustworthiness. Reputation management is another aspect and use of social media.
- Groups: This block represents the extent to which users can form communities and sub-communities of people with similar backgrounds, demographics or interests. The more ‘social’ a network becomes, the wider the group of friends, followers, and contacts can be developed.
Most popular sites
This is a list of the leading social networks based on number of active user accounts as of April 2016.
- Facebook: 1,650,000,000 users.
- WhatsApp 1,000,000,000 users.
- Facebook Messenger: 900,000,000 users.
- QQ: 853,000,000 users.
- WeChat: 706,000,000 users.
- QZone: 653,000,000 users.
- Tumblr: 555,000,000 users.
- Instagram: 400,000,000 users.
- Twitter: 320,000,000 users.
- Baidu Tieba: 300,000,000 users.
- Skype: 300,000,000 users.
- Viber: 280,000,000 users.
- Sina Weibo: 222,000,000 users.
- Line: 215,000,000 users.
- Snapchat: 200,000,000 users.
Criticisms of social media range from criticisms of the ease of use of specific platforms and their capabilities, disparity of information available, issues with trustworthiness and reliability of information presented, the impact of social media use on an individual’s concentration, ownership of media content, and the meaning of interactions created by social media. Although some social media platforms offer users the opportunity to cross-post simultaneously, some social network platforms have been criticized for poor interoperability between platforms, which leads to the creation of information silos, viz. isolated pockets of data contained in one social media platform. However, it is also argued that social media have positive effects such as allowing the democratization of the Internet while also allowing individuals to advertise themselves and form friendships. Others have noted that the term “social” cannot account for technological features of a platform alone, hence the level of sociability should determined by the actual performances of its users. There has been a dramatic decrease in face-to-face interactions as more and more social media platforms have been introduced with the threat of cyber-bullying and online sexual predators being more prevalent. Social media may expose children to images of alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behaviors[relevant? ]. In regards to cyber-bullying, it has been proven that individuals who have no experience with cyber-bullying often have a better well-being than individuals who have been bullied online.
Twitter is increasingly a target of heavy activity of marketers. Their actions, focused on gaining massive numbers of followers, include use of advanced scripts and manipulation techniques that distort the prime idea of social media by abusing human trustfulness. Twitter also promotes social connections among students. It can be used to enhance communication building and critical thinking. Domizi (2013) utilised Twitter in a graduate seminar requiring students to post weekly tweets to extend classroom discussions. Students reportedly used Twitter to connect with content and other students. Additionally, students found it “to be useful professionally and personally.” British-American entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen criticizes social media in his book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, “Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.” This is also relative to the issue “justice” in the social network. For example, the phenomenon “Human flesh search engine” in Asia raised the discussion of “private-law” brought by social network platform. Comparative media professor José van Dijck contends in her book “The Culture of Connectivity” (2013) that to understand the full weight of social media, their technological dimensions should be connected to the social and the cultural. She critically describes six social media platforms. One of her findings is the way Facebook had been successful in framing the term ‘sharing’ in such a way that third party use of user data is neglected in favour of intra-user connectedness.
Privacy rights advocates warn users about uses for the information that can be gathered through social media. Some information is captured without the user’s knowledge or consent, such as through electronic tracking and third party application on social networks. Others include law enforcement and governmental use of this information, including the gathering of so-called social media intelligence through data mining techniques. Additional privacy concerns relate to the impact of social media monitoring by employers whose policies include prohibitions against workers’ postings on social networking sites. A survey done in 2010 from different universities revealed that there are lines drawn between personal and professional lives. Many of the users surveyed admitted to misrepresenting themselves online. Employees can be concerned because their social media sites reflect their personal lives and not their professional lives, but yet employers are censoring them on the Internet.
Other privacy concerns with employers and social media are when employers use social media as a tool to screen a prospective employee. This issue raises many ethical questions that some consider an employer’s right and others consider discrimination. Except in the states of California, Maryland, and Illinois, there are no laws that prohibit employers from using social media profiles as a basis of whether or not someone should be hired. Title VII also prohibits discrimination during any aspect of employment including hiring or firing, recruitment, or testing. Social media has been integrating into the workplace and this has led to conflicts within employees and employers. Particularly, Facebook has been seen as a popular platform for employers to investigate in order to learn more about potential employees. This conflict first started in Maryland when an employer requested and received an employee’s Facebook username and password. State lawmakers first introduced legislation in 2012 to prohibit employers from requesting passwords to personal social accounts in order to get a job or to keep a job. This led to Canada, Germany, the U.S. Congress and 11 U.S. states to pass or propose legislation that prevents employers’ access to private social accounts of employees.
Many Western European countries have already implemented laws that restrict the regulation of social media in the workplace. States including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed legislation that protects potential employees and current employees from employers that demand them to give forth their username or password for a social media account. Laws that forbid employers from disciplining an employee based on activity off the job on social media sites have also been put into act in states including California, Colorado, Connecticut, North Dakota, and New York. Several states have similar laws that protect students in colleges and universities from having to grant access to their social media accounts. Eight states have passed the law that prohibits post secondary institutions from demanding social media login information from any prospective or current students and privacy legislation has been introduced or is pending in at least 36 states as of July 2013. As of May 2014, legislation has been introduced and is in the process of pending in at least 28 states and has been enacted in Maine and Wisconsin. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board has been devoting a lot of their attention to attacking employer policies regarding social media that can discipline employees who seek to speak and post freely on social media sites.