Social Media: Organizations, Corporations, and Movements

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In 2013, Netflix, posted on Facebook, that its’ “…streaming-video company had exceeded one billion hours in a month for the first time, sending the firm’s shares higher.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352)This declaration caused a stir with The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who went on to investigate the risk-factors of companies disseminating sensitive information on social media sites and whether that would affect certain investors or shareholders. Fortunately, for the companies seeking to drive the market forward, the SEC ultimately concluded that it would be alright for companies to use social media sites as a form of “news feed” in communicating with their shareholders/investors so long as they knew where to look for those postings. Companies like Dell and eBay (much like Netflix) utilize social media platforms (specifically Twitter) to announce and communicate with their shareholders on earnings and other key financial points. This allows for an open system with their investors/shareholders and facilitates real-time and up-to-date reports that enables them to better understand their customer base and user interactions on social media sites. “An increasing number of public companies are using social media to communicate with their shareholders and the investing public,” the SEC said in its report Tuesday. “We appreciate the value and prevalence of social media channels in contemporary market communications, and the commission supports companies seeking new ways to communicate.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352)

It is a smart strategy for companies to announce profit margins and the increase of revenues to the public on social media sites, because from an advertisement standpoint, the message they are sending out to both the public and their investors/shareholders is, “This is who we are, this is what we have to offer, and we’re growing…invest in us.” This increases more revenues. Bottom line (no pun intended).

More so, social media sites can better illustrate and depict a company’s identity, by giving it a voice and a face on our mainstream and contemporary social avenue. When CEO’s of companies leave comments on Twitter, and when users can have access to Facebook company websites, this enables and encourages a user to engage in a relational approach with companies. There are great pay-offs to this; “Not only can a strategic, well-executed social presence lead to increased revenue, new business development opportunities and other ROI-worthy outcomes, research also shows that executives who use social media are viewed as more trustworthy. And the same can probably be said of the companies they lead.” (http://www.v3im.com/2012/05/how-fortune-500-companies-use-social-media/#axzz3GB2pR5R4)

Trustworthiness is a key point here, and by having an active social media presence you are inviting the public to be an active participant-observant in the company’s growth and mission…a shared experience. Social media is an inclusive, non-insular world, built on social interactions and social relationships…companies would be hard pressed to succeed outside the social graph. Social media is a contemporary socialization phenomena and it’s far-reaching in scope with its social graph. It’s the marketplace and the companies know this. So a company brand must have a face in the social media world in order to form relations with its target audience and survive.

Statistics/Facts:

▪ 14.4% of companies communicate with shareholders via social media.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352

▪ 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog.

▪ 62% of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Twitter account and have tweeted in the last              30 days.

▪ Fortune 500 companies with the highest number of Twitter followers include Google, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, The Washington Post, Verizon Wireless, Coca-Cola and McDonalds.

▪ 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Facebook page, with Insurance, Specialty Retail (apparel, home, appliances, and furniture) and Food Production, Services and Drug Store categories leading the way.

http://www.v3im.com/2012/05/how-fortune-500-companies-use-social-media/#ixzz3GF19JHFc

Furthermore, when organizations like the healthcare industry maintain an active presence online and are integrated in the social media landscape in a significant way; they stand to accomplish communication and information sharing that can benefit clinical outcomes, speed of innovation, and consumer attraction.

Also, in a no less than obvious assertion, as Westerners, we are more than ever reliant on the worldwide web for health information and medical advice than ever before; particularly for those without any medical insurance or the means to have a primary physician. But how much of that information out there is accurate and not misleading? When a medical advice is distributed via Twitter or Facebook, it runs the risk of being unsubstantiated knowledge based merely on a hunch. This is why healthcare organizations are beginning to see the importance of mediating factual and essential medical advice by way of social media as people’s approach to their own health is brought into question. There is also urgency for healthcare organizations to move fast and not wait too long to implement social media initiatives, because of the wealth of conversations among 18 to 24 year olds (the most active age group) regarding healthcare advice that exists on social media sites. Healthcare organizations would benefit to draw that populace into its own hands and steer them in the right direction of sound and viable professional advice and assessments. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has taken such initiative and measures, by using “…social media to get patients to become better advocates for their own care. Mayo Clinic’s philosophy of its social media is as follows: “Mayo Clinic believes individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and that it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices.” (http://hitconsultant.net/2014/02/17/5-reasons-mayo-clinic-dominates-social-media-in-healthcare/) Social media for this hospital helps to aid their organizations larger goals. Mayo clinic also has built a stellar online presence with their use of social media because they take into account the consumer’s needs. They understand the need for trustworthiness and consistency in a consumer. Their brand logo and colors are always consistent and present on all of their social media sites and webpage; and they are always ready to answer questions, which makes them accessible. They have built a value system and a positive rapport with their consumers that has translated into new business with new consumers through social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter).

Healthcare organizations have also used social media to enhance their marketing tactics, branding, and recruitment purposes. Not to mention, it is also used by hospitals to communicate with patients form the past, present, and future. But most importantly, they have been utilized to have a presence.

“Many oncologists now have a presence on Twitter. They share valuable and credible information on cancer news and clinical trials. They also make themselves available to answer questions and provide general guidance to the public. Many participate in discussion forums that include patients and advocates that attract millions of impressions. Doctors are also teaming up with professional foundations to moderate Twitter “chats” to answer questions from the public.” (http://www.cancer.net/blog/2014-01/cancer-age-social-media)

Statistics/Facts:

▪ More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.

▪ 18 to 24 year olds are twice more likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions.

▪ Parents are more likely to seek medical answers online, 22% use Facebook and 20% use YouTube. Of non-parents, 14% use Facebook and 12% use YouTube to search for health care related topics.

▪ The most accessed online resources for health related information are: 56% searched WebMD, 31% on Wikipedia, 29% on health magazine websites, 17% used Facebook, 15% used YouTube, 13% used a blog or multiple blogs, 12% used patient communities, 6% used Twitter and 27% used none of the above.

▪ 26% of all hospitals in the US participate in social media.

▪ 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.

(http://medcitynews.com/2013/11/24-outstanding-statistics-figures-social-media-impacted-health-care-industry/)

Lastly, social media has become a powerful tool for social movement. It has become an entity of sorts, an eyewitness account, a representative of the people, and a judicial voice of truth. When a user creates content as simple as an IPhone recording of say a police brutality on the streets, this raises a social consciousness in the social media sphere for those who have accessed this uploaded video. Recently circulating in the news and in the social media sphere, was the case of Michael Brown, a resident of the state of Missouri who was executed by a cop in the suburbs of St. Louis. He was unarmed when he was shot to death. Traditional media in this instance, addressed the incident with less than passionate details of the events. They reported that non-lethal firing of pellets were administered to protestors, yet pictures taken and uploaded to Twitter by bystanders, illustrated a different story of pepper balls and wooden pellets that caused a bloody scene. One local educator at the scene posted a picture unto her Twitter account and “…wrote on Twitter that she was “devastated” by the use of “tanks, tear gas, rubber bullets, hand launchers, and sheer intimidation of county police.” (http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/12/us/missouri-teen-shooting-social-media/index.html)

The benefits of social media as a medium to translate real-time events like this incident, is that it holds a candle to truth, a transparency that can initiate an effort to right the wrongs of society and hold those responsible for wrong doing, accountable for their actions. It also helps to bring to question the integrity of traditional media outlets like broadcast news that often takes the low road and presents the accounts of an incident with half-truths or downgrade its severity and gravity. News outlets for instance, posted pictures of Brown holding a sign where some audience members thought of it as a peace sign, while others felt it looked more like a gang sign. This distortion of meaning by traditional media outlets only confuses those viewing and in some cases paints in the minds of viewers a narrative that black people in America are gang affiliated.

“In a recent Guardian column Newsnight economic editor Paul Mason argued that: “With Facebook, Twitter and Yfrog truth travels faster than lies, [sic] and propaganda is inflammable.” (http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=722)

“Gordon Brown seized upon the communicative potential of the Internet as something that would rehabilitate the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, telling the Guardian in 2009: “You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken”.” (http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=722)

So, social media sites like Twitter for example, allows organizers and activists to combat these social issues. They also facilitate a means for activists and supporters to communicate the events of a protest and belay any potential issues that would allow them to reassess or reorganize efforts. Social media sites also provide a means to strengthen relationships among activists and supporters of the cause, reinforcing the need for the struggle and standing by it. It inspires and rejuvenates a centralization and solidarity; a push factor for continual mobilization.

Links:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323611604578398862292997352

http://www.v3im.com/2012/05/how-fortune-500-companies-use-social-media/#ixzz3GF19JHFc

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/12/17/how-social-media-can-spur-organizational-transformation/

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/directory/social-media

http://hitconsultant.net/2014/02/17/5-reasons-mayo-clinic-dominates-social-media-in-healthcare/

http://www.cancer.net/blog/2014-01/cancer-age-social-media

http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=722

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/12/us/missouri-teen-shooting-social-media/index.html

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Social Media Relationships and Interactions and Their Downsides

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Is social media “dumbing down” society? Think about it.

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The only thing I see in their relationship to each other, is that they share a common interest in their cell phones and their disregard for each other. Isolated and self-involved, wouldn’t they just be better off being alone with themselves? So much art around them, you think it may have inspired some thread of discussion. They might be sitting near each other in proximity but there is no obvious human contact.

 

Social media, no doubt, has helped to exacerbate the existing status quo that is associated with the modernity of Western Civilization family dynamics. What was once a commonality, a binding thread of the proverbial “sit down dinner”, with the gathering of a family unit and the sharing of their daily events; it now seems something of the past. Within the framework of “quality time”, the values of familial solidarity and the reinforcement of kinship from dinner gathering, has lost its social value in this present age. Although a generalization to some extent, everything now is about being on the go, on the run, about the self. Technologies with social media on the helm have only reinforced and aided this truth, while undermining the benefits of traditional socialization.

As part of my endeavor to better understand the influence of social media on interactions, relationships, and family dynamics, I sought the opinions of fellow co-workers (Cater Waiters at The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx) who represent a wide range of ethnic, religious, and sexual orientations and are of various age groups, in order to get a more global/ holistic perspective. With that said, I have chosen to give them pseudonyms in order to preserve a state of anonymity when quoting them in this blog.

Moving on, there is a significant loss of meaning within Western culture that has been promulgated by the advances of social media platforms into our daily activities. I remember a time for example, not long ago, when eating dinner as a family unit or going camping, was a ritual practice that promoted the idea of unity and the value that we placed on the importance of human interaction. This in turn, would require a reciprocal exchange of a shared experience; an openness to allow another in and give of one’s time in return. Unfortunately, with the emergence and integration of social media there has been a real rift and pulling away from these “notions of the past”. It seems social media has redefined the laws of interaction in our modern Western culture; as the edicts of socialization are now predicated on whether or not you are linked or connected to a global network. Since the advent of social media, there has been an infringement on the traditional ways of relational human interaction; and under the pressure of this new competing ideology of e-relational human interaction, the modernity of Western culture is now undergoing a rapid transformation. I could speak at length of all the things knowable that suggest and verify the benefits of social media, such as real time Skype human interaction with relatives that are on another continent or the rekindling of lost loved ones by way of Facebook, or even the gains made by an expanded social graph that pay great dividends to career placement and advancements by virtue of networking, or at most basic; the gathering and distribution of information. But what I like to turn my focus to, are the more negative implications of social media and its impact on family dynamics and socialization through e-relations.

At this present moment I sit here at a café in The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, typing away on this blog, only to be distracted by a middle aged father, a grandmother, and a young boy (who I assume is no more than seven years old), sit together in silence as they feast on their lunch. The grandmother with an air of humility and quiet resolution eats her salad, but nonetheless is an attentive mother to her son when on rare occasion he engages in “speak”. But this real presence and reality of shared experience in my eyes, is really juxtaposed by the overt display of the son’s engagement and interaction between him and his android. Fixed on his cartoon there is a real sense of displaced emotions and a “hollowness” that permeates the family dynamics in this scenario. I see the “hollowness” mostly emanating from the grandmother, who seems fixed or obligated to accommodate the needs of her grandchild and her son. “Plugged in” and “connected”, the grandchild is adrift into that wonderland of the SELF, which is something of a norm now in our culture today, but when it is mirrored by the meaning of something more substantial like a grandmother who brings the whole of herself into the picture; with life experiences that can be shared and passed unto her grandchild, one cannot help but to feel the gravity of the loss of meaning and the demise of the grandmother’s status within her own family, who by virtue of time and technology has become her undoing. Cater HK stated, that whenever she has her grandchildren come over for a visit, and she goes to answer the door, they march right pass her with their eyes fixated on their gadgets or phones without really taking her in and saying “hello”. She has dealt with feelings of inadequacy, and a sense of lost. Whenever she tries to engage in the lives of her grandchildren they are more apt to disengage and quickly turn to their relations formed with those on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. She also stated she’s felt undignified and disrespected by the lack of reciprocal exchange associated with the etiquettes and courtesies of traditional human relationships, that she feels is devoid in her grandchildren. As a direct result of this, she is now faced with a sense of hopelessness and lack of purpose. Traditional human relational interactions once dictated that our elders held a level of respectability and authority (a reverence of sorts) for their ability to impart wisdom on others, but now that status has diminished in scope. “Anyone who wants to communicate in person is fast becoming a minority. More people love their machines than they do other people. These devices are a convenient moat separating people from human contact. Machines help them escape into a world where they feel safe and where other humans increasingly play a secondary role. Human contact in today’s world is fast becoming a memory.” (http://newsjunkiepost.com/2012/07/22/real-social-interaction-is-on-its-deathbed-part-i/)

Social media in many ways has been pivotal in enhancing the ego of the user at hand; it inflates a sense of worth and it enables the user to forge an identity or reinvent one in lieu of being themselves, and caught up in that world where they are accepted by the many likes they receive on Facebook or the friending of another, they become easily attached to social media in general. Their reality and their sense of identity is shaped by the platforms of social media and not molded by the traditional human interactions that would have been afforded them if they were not wholly engaged in social media for approval, guidance, or the bonding of commonalities through a social network. Cater BB stated, “It’s an easy way out from the expectations we are born into.” Perhaps this is a truly insightful statement to consider. Are many of us resorting to social media as a means to defy the expectations of what our parents or society deems as appropriate behavior or social etiquettes? Is social media a way to really paint a world more closely related to our desires which can in turn as some horror stories have shown, deviate from the social norms into areas of taboo that satisfy our need for complete abandonment without any repercussions? There was a case in which a couple of victims befell a great tragedy at a hands of a predator who according to prosecutors, “…Melchert-Dinkel met two alleged victims in online chat rooms where he posed as a concerned female nurse, using such pseudonyms as “Li Dao” or “Cami.” Melchert-Dinkel allegedly struck suicide pacts with his correspondents, who then followed through.” (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/minnesota-man-assisted-internet-suicide/story?id=10855796)

Here is a sad case, where relations formed on social media can be life threatening and how people manipulate their identity to live out sick fantasies. Cyber bullying is another example of social media as implement of transference of hate and harm. How much of social media content is being regulated? When cases like these exist, how can we not concede to a system of monitoring activities on social media platforms? People put great emotional stock into the relationships formed online and in a way like animism, the projecting of a soul unto inanimate objects and material; social media platforms and technologies have reached a high level of religiosity among their users who can spend hours upon hours on their sites in a single day and who judge their presence (validity of existence) in the world by their ability to be constantly “linked”, “in the loop”, or “connected” (the irony of this is lol) to the world, and not “missing out” by their constant interaction with those platforms. Cater XX stated, “My boyfriend, gets upset when he loses a follower.” His boyfriend who has over two thousand followers is intrinsically attached to his Facebook, religiously, and it holds value to him, that his self-worth should be measured by it. To me, it seems that social media has become exploited and integrated into the family social dynamics to such a degree that it has stymied the flow of communication and bonding that is relevant for forming substantial relationships based on the principle that the presence of life and living beings in conjunction with interaction is highly important and valuable. It disrupts that flow and makes one to internalize their feelings rather than to be in the present moment.

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According to Cater XX: When he was hospitalized and undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, he got a Facebook message sent to him, by those he loved, instead of a visit or a phone call. He said, what he needed most was for them to show up in person and comfort him. “With social media it has become so easy to keep your distance and act like you’re in touch, when you are not-it’s impersonal.”(Cater XX) Have we lost meaning with one another?

Cater YY: A mother of three, with Christian values, and a sense of tradition, explained to me that one of her young boys over dinner, said “lol mom”, in response to something he thought funny. When she asked him, what he meant by lol, he said, “laugh out loud, duh”. She in turn, dismayed by his lack of expression, retorted by saying to him, “When you think something is funny, you laugh, you don’t say lol.” Does she have point? Have we substituted are ability to share in the human expressions of laughter, which according to Cater YY, is the best source of medicine, for hollow responses? Are we allowing ourselves to shorten our ability to exchange deep and meaningful interactions by developing acronyms in order to drive the point across? Are we not essentially curtailing the other from full engagement and self-expression in the physical patterns that is explicit say in the “belly laughter”, because we have opted to express laughter as lol. In my opinion Lol is (loss of laughter). Actual laughter when shared draws people together, it gives it a meaningful shared experience. “…there are people of Y-generation who have spoken less but typed more, who have express less but used emoticons more to replace there [sic] emotions. Technology has surpassed our human interactions.” (http://viditbhardwaj7.blogspot.com/2013/06/impact-of-networking-on-human-relations.html)

What is alarming is that statistics and research suggest that children are being deferred to by parents on what technologies to purchase. They drive the market. They are raising themselves. And do kids know what is good for them? Are they not misguided by media sources? “This is a world in which kids are very much in control of consumption,” said Stacey Matthias, founder of New York-based research firm Insight Strategy Group, speaking at the Launch Kids conference at Digital Book World 2014 in New York.

Parents are deferring to children more often when it comes to media purchase decisions, according to Matthias. Four years after the introduction of the iPad, children now have access to multiple devices in the home and they are more connected with each other through social media than any time in history. Through that access and connectivity, they share a tremendous amount of information on what they want to do what they’re always doing, according to Matthias, “Kids are always doing the work of growing up.”(http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/shifting-family-dynamics-give-kids-influence-on-more-media-purchase-decisions/) Are we not essentially allowing our children to re-educate our minds, and alter our culture when we bestow the reigns for them to do so. Have we lost responsibility on this matter; on our kids? Kids now wield greater power than they ever did before because of their early initiation and integration with modern technology and the information highway that comes with it. Of course we cannot hide things from our children but shouldn’t parents and elders be better informed about the benefits and “not so” benefits of the influence of technologies and social media before their children are indoctrinated into that world? There needs to be constant research, monitoring, detection, and awareness of advancements and trends, before parents lose all power and control to children that can lose their way. If we aren’t too late already.

Links:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/shifting-family-dynamics-give-kids-influence-on-more-media-purchase-decisions/

http://newsjunkiepost.com/2012/07/22/real-social-interaction-is-on-its-deathbed-part-i/

http://viditbhardwaj7.blogspot.com/2013/06/impact-of-networking-on-human-relations.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/minnesota-man-assisted-internet-suicide/story?id=10855796