There are a lot of benefits for Twitter for students, professionals, and even professors. It provides a virtual community where people are able to share perspectives, brainstorm ideas, and network with others sharing the same interests and perspectives. I have found Twitter as my go-to platform nowadays – more so than Facebook. Was it like this for me a year or two ago? The answer would be no.
I have used Twitter only for my social media classes as a form to engage and interact with my students and professionals outside of the classroom. I’ve been able to connect with many great professionals all around the world and formulate very good professional relationships. Twitter has been a very prominent tool for me as a social media professor.
However, weekend discussions with some fellow professionals got me thinking about where Twitter is going as a conversation platform on social media. Is Twitter turning into the anti-social media platform for 2014 and 2015? We have seen other platforms arise this year that claim to be the anti-Facebook, like Ello has done. However, is this a bigger issue and topic to cover than just focusing on one platform? Is social media turning into an anti-social media platform?
A PR professional I had the chance to meet and talk to this summer is Stephen Waddington, who wrote a great blog post about how we don’t talk on Twitter anymore. Instead of focusing on the conversation, it’s about the promoted content by brands based on certain demographics and psychographic information collected on you by social media analytics companies.
Essentially, we are actively engaged in promoting ads, content, and updates from brands and individuals who want to present a certain image of themselves online. On the other side, we are seeing how users are taking to getting their opinions out to the masses – some positive and some negative. Kelly Mosier (Director of Digital Media for Nebraska Athletics) shared this link yesterday on Twitter which also sparked a lot of discussion online pertaining to the role Twitter is playing in the social media sphere.
Social media has allowed us the opportunity to connect and engage users – but it is easy to comment and state certain feelings and reactions in the comfort of your home behind your smartphone screen. Cyber bullying, antagonism, and extremely negative reactions targeted to both brands and individuals are just some of the things we are seeing right now on social media.
While providing a strong and positive reputation online is key – we have to ask the question – is this really what is going on? Are brands and individuals being authentic and transparent about their updates?
These behaviors we are seeing on Twitter primarily may have been there (ex. sports reactions, etc) – however, what we are seeing now is that not only are they open to everyone to see, but are shared, reposted, and even cited in news articles now for everyone to be aware of. With social media – people are able to reach, talk, and say whatever they want to you at any time, any place, and at any format.
As social media professionals – and professors – we have to continue to teach and discuss how social media is a platform for great opportunities and conversation, but we also have to be aware of how others are using it that may impact our respective communities and industries. Education is more important than ever – we talk about how the tool shouldn’t necessarily be the rule – but this is a bigger issue than social media.
I think we are at a crossroads here when it comes to social media.Yes, I do believe there is a social aspect still to social media, but we have to look at what that exactly means. We are seeing people still coming together and engaging with each other, but there are some conversations or actions we may or may not want to see, and we are able to due to the content being shared and discussed from our networks and communities. We have to be more active – and protective – of ourselves and what we want to be exposed to. Filters, lists, unfriending, unfollowing, and even taking digital sabbaticals to some degree are just some things to think about. However, don’t feel you have to abandon a platform completely due to a few people making noise.
With this being said, I personally feel there are more positives about social media than negatives. If you have a balanced perspective of the tools out there and what to expect, you will not be as blindsided with some of the comments and incidents you see. However, all we can do is lead by example and treat others like how we would like to be treated. Sometimes this works, but there are times where this does not work.
Hope you all are having a great day.