Social Media in Politics Review

Social media impact on our future

Social Media Impact on the Workplace

social media at work

As social media usage becomes second nature to us, we may not recognize the impact it has on our everyday lives, from when we awake in the morning until we go to bed at night. It’s an undisputed fact that a majority of Millennials check their social media accounts upon waking in the morning, and right before they go to bed at night. An institution that has become that important will undoubtedly have noticeable influence throughout the entirety of the waking day, particularly in the workplace.

At work, social media usage is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Managers know social media activities (among other Internet related activities) consume a sizeable portion of the work day, affecting productivity to an unknown degree. Workers, on the other hand, know that their managers know that they are using social media during work hours, but that widespread acceptance of social media as an integral part of one’s day makes preventative actions hard to implement for a manager or a company through company policies. Tech This, a Lubbock IT solutions company, is often approached by corporate IT managers who want a way to halt or at least monitor social media usage through the company’s Internet connection. Because social media is moving closer to the individual via cell phone, trying to curb social media usage during the workday is largely out of the hands of the IT department. Short of asking employees to hand over their personal cell phone when they arrive at work, not much can be done.

Because social media is by default largely public, activities announced through social media like Facebook, Twitter and other outlets tend to be unfiltered, unverified, unchecked, and unrestrained. The results can be catastrophic. Company secrets get revealed, future plans leaked, intra-company gossip aired – all open for anyone to see. So besides the obvious hit to productivity, social media opens a company to corporate espionage like never before. Despite social media companies touting the marketing benefits for businesses who embrace social media, there is clearly an unbridled dark side to consider.

Because social media usage is so prevalent and so personal to the individual, there isn’t an effective means of preventing it from being used, even during the workday, so for now, the most effective means of protecting a company’s future from nefarious social media usage is most likely through continuous training. Corporate trainers must incorporate into their policies and training curriculum acceptable uses of social media, and it must be reinforced over and over again. It may be that a company must openly embrace social media as a marketing platform, but to emphasize the incorrect and unethical uses of social media to its employees. For now, it may be impossible to ask the 800 pound gorilla to leave, but if he’s going to stay, we may as well ask if he would like a doughnut with his morning coffee.


Twitter Is 10 Years Old!

Twitter's 10th Birthday

Let the social media world rejoice! Twitter has passed the decade mark. What began as one of those ‘why would anyone want that’ ideas has become a social media powerhouse that has changed communications over and over again. Even if the founder Jack Dorsey couldn’t clearly see the big picture of what Twitter would eventually be, he at least knew it had great potential. In its beginning Twitter, or twttr as it was called then, was kind of a one-way Facebook with no pictures, no user profiles to speak of, and posts that were limited to 140 characters. It was initially designed as a way for companies to do day-long brainstorming. If you had an idea, you would tweet it to the other members of your team, who could digest it and tweet related comments out to the same group.

The Hashtag

One of the most important creations that has propelled Twitter was the development of the hashtag. Hashtags are so prevalent in today’s society that the word has been incorporated into the Oxford English Dictionary. The hashtag idea created a bridge for Twitter to wrangle some of the Internet’s most utilized function – searching. A user could use Twitter to search by hashtags, and tweet authors could embed hashtags in order to drive more search traffic to their tweet and hopefully increase followers. In 2010, Twitter created an explosion of traffic and boosted time-on-site by hyperlinking hashtags. Twitter hashtags have since been integrated into Facebook, Google Real Time Search, Gawker, Youtube, and millions of other sites through the Twitter API functions.

What’s Trending?

As the concept of tweeting became more mainstream, some unintended uses manifested themselves. Among the most important and relevant is the idea of trending topics. By monitoring which hashtags are being tweeted more often and at a faster pace, Twitter was able to identify ideas, personalities and organizations were becoming more important in a social sense around the world – or ‘trending’. For extremely high tweet bursts, Twitter can identify breaking news and can be used as an emergency broadcast channel of sorts.

Public Figures

Celebrities, companies and movements use twitter to reach their audience. The personal characteristic of a tweet allows a celebrity to tweet to his/her millions of followers, giving the followers glimpses into the celebrity’s life. Although a ‘follow’ is one way, followers get a sense that they are ‘friends’ in a Facebook sense. A company can also greatly benefit from their hashtagged name, or a campaign. Information on Nike, for example, can be found at @Nike or through one of the most successful Twitter campaigns ever, #JustDoIt. Even a social movement can effectively use Twitter to get its message out. A great example is the #occupywallstreet movement.

Trouble In Paradise

It isn’t always peaches and cream in the Twitter worlds. Whenever a new concept is brought to market, there are always those who abuse it or use it to facilitate illegal activities. In the early days of the Twitter boom, there were adopters who went all-out Twitter wild, tweeting even the most inconsequential events. ISIS, an international group notorious for using the Internet and social media sites has credited Twitter with helping to grow its member base. Twitter has also been accused of censoring accounts or tweets that don’t align with the political/social views of the Twitter executives. For example, recently a pro-Bernie Sanders account was banned just as Twitter executives were paying to attend a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. Another interesting fact is that Twitter has yet to turn a profit.

Anyway, happy 10th birthday, Twitter. We are anxious to see what you’ll accomplish in the next ten years – if you can hang on for that long!

Social Media Psychology

darkroom computer user

Social media is almost an oxymoron. What is described as social is actually causing less and less face to face social interaction, which should be the foundation of social society. Before the advent of internet social media, the term ‘social’ would conjure up images of an active party or the fellow at work who gets along with everyone and always seems to be leading a group conversation. Our concept of social has radically changed now that being ‘social’ can now be accomplished while you are alone in your bedroom.

Social media has brought to light two distinct character sets that have latched onto it – the narcissist and the hermit. While both think that they are using social media for the purpose of being social, they are in fact deluding themselves, and use it to mask their character flaws.

The Narcissist

Most people have met or known someone that could be classified as a narcissist. This person is one who constantly seeks to aggrandize himself/herself. In any situation, they are on the lookout for a way to make it about them. They admire themselves in the mirror, they talk loudly and blustery, in order to make what they say seem more important – simply because they are the ones saying it. This character type is immediately drawn to the concept of social media, Facebook in particular. On their profile, you will find selfies after selfies after selfies. They may have thousands of friends which they’ve acquired simply for the fact that it gives them a greater audience to show off to (not that everyone with thousands of friends is a narcissist). They are more interested in how many Likes they get from a post they’ve made than the actual comments given by their so-called friends. Social media gives the narcissist a false sense that he/she is exceedingly important, as judged by the number of likes and friends.

The Hermit

The hermit is also an avid user of social media. He posts daily, often many times per day. Even though he is alone, he feels a sense of community simply by virtue of the fact that he is ‘speaking’ (posting) and others are ‘listening’ (the post shows up in their feed). This phony social aspect of social media is actually very prevalent, to varying degrees. A typical teenager today believes that he is far more social than were his parents at his age, but in reality, there’s less actual interaction between friends now than ever, especially given that much of the time spent together with friends is spent looking at a screen rather than each other. This aspect of social media is turning society into isolated hermits at an alarming rate.

Social media is changing society; there’s no denying that. We must remain vigilant to actual social activity in order to maintain one of the traits that make us human – the need for human companionship and human touch.


Social Media’s Influence in Politics

Social media is an ever growing segment of Internet usage, but that’s not surprising. Humans, as social beings, will take whatever media is available and utilize it as a social platform. Politicians throughout the centuries have endeavored to maximize the need for social interaction in order to get elected and then maintain their elected position. So politicians and ideologues alike are using the Internet to unprecedented levels to gain followers and spread their message.

Decades ago, politicians were notorious for “kissing babies”. It’s seen as a joke now, but in the days before social media, this was a common tactic for politicians who were running for election. It was one way to connect with the common man, to show interest in the common man’s interests – his family. Politicians would go door to door, shaking hands, talking with families or small groups on neighborhood corners. Of course, a newspaper photographer would always be on hand to take a a pic for the next morning’s newspaper (their version of social media).

Today, the same politician can reach thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions through social media campaigns. The social concept has evolved from face-to-face and physical contact to a digital presence and 24-7 access. Politicians can have a fan base of followers of millions in a relatively short time with a well thought-out strategy. A politician can reach all of his/her followers at once with a Tweet, or a Facebook post, and the followers can get access to their favorite politician any time they want simply by clicking onto their profile. Every tweet and post is presented in chronological order, so followers can stay connected to their preferred politician any time, day or night.

The concept of a politician having a Twitter account, Facebook account or Snapchat account also brings them down to our level, by association. I have an account, they have an account, hence they are just like me. Furthermore, I’m their ‘friend’ on Facebook. So in a sense, social media has truly brought the politician closer to the voter than ever, on a much grander scale and without all the baby spit-up to clean.