Digital Sharing

Digital sharing is the major foundation of social media and social networking sites (SNS). Social media and applications like Twitter and Facebook provide us with a platform for sharing the information and images we come across on a day-to-day basis.

Digital sharing has awakened and fed this inner desire we feel to share our everyday experiences online. Applications like FourSquare or the ‘check in’ feature of Facebook are evidence of this, where we feel the need to alert everyone to our movements and activities.

“The Pew Research Center states that Millennial’s (those who came of age in the new millennium — currently age 20-36) are the “always on generation” (McMahon 2014). This stems from our addiction to technology and constant interactions with it. Speaking from a personal experience, I know if I lose or am without my phone for any extended period of time, I feel as though I am missing a limb.

Social media has become an extension of our physical beings, particularly now that so much of the way we present ourselves is a result of our online profile. Even when I am out with friends, I find myself and everyone constantly checking their phones so regularly you’d be forgiven for thinking they were expecting a message from the Queen.

This problem is a common one for the Millennial generation, although it has provided the answer to one of the age-old problems – how to split the bill at dinner. It’s not uncommon to walk in to a restaurant today and see a pile of smart phones face down in a pile on the table, the idea being the first person to pick up and look at their phone has to pay the bill. And yes, it is a lot harder than it sounds.

smart-phones

So significant has our need to record and archive our experiences become, that people are living their lives through a lens and missing out the real experience. Take for example music concerts, the amount of mobile phones you see lighting up the dark as their owners record 30 seconds of Lorde or whoever singing is ridiculous. It takes away from the whole point of going to see an artist live, because you are experiencing the sounds and images through a lens, no different to a TV.

Despite the idea that audiences are missing out on experiences due to their distraction with the screen (and camera lens), it can be argued that by recording these memories -through image, video and sound- the highly sensory and presumably exciting nature of the moment they are experiencing, can be prolonged well into the future. This can be seen as a compromise between the quality and longevity of their experiences; while the quality of the moment is diminished by audiences not being fully immersed in the moment of action, the experiences being recorded can go on to surpass spacial and temporal boundaries otherwise constrained to that moment in time. Watching pre-recorded experiences, such as concerts, can often elicit memories almost as intense and thrilling as they were live. Digital sharing essentially allows for the multiplicity of these memories and experiences, which although compromised in their authenticity, are prolonged and disseminated for many others to also enjoy.

Adding to this, digital sharing allows many to experience these memories of the quality of their time in the present moment.

References:

  • McMahon, K., 2014, ‘Could we Disconnect for Just a Moment’, The Blog, Accessed: 27/10/14, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kyle-mcmahon/could-we-disconnect-for-just-a-moment_b_5709401.html

The Power of the Internet Meme

Memes and Internet fads have become an integral part of our digital society. A recent phenomenon, memes play a vital role that extends far beyond the instant comedic value they hold.

One of the most famous and successful memes of modern times is the success baby meme (pictured below) that you’ve no doubt seen. The image was captured at the beach and uploaded online and the rest is history. The photo soon went viral online and young Sammy became an Internet sensation.

Success Baby Meme

Marketing, advertising and promotions professionals all embrace memes as an inexpensive way of conducting business, not only is because they’re trendy, but also because they spread like wildfire.

Memes have harnessed the limitless potential of the digital age and the Internet, further reinforcing the power of the individual user. To some degree memes reflect the tone of todays social etiquette and norms.

The visual image of the fist pumping baby gives mature attributes to a toddler, which when combined with text creates a humorous entity. The success of the fist-pumping baby has been so significant that Virgin Mobile UK decided to use it in there advertising campaigns and sign the youngster to a lucrative contract.

Similar to the fist success baby meme is the sceptical baby meme, as seen below, which continues the comical nature of baby memes. With these parents also lucky enough to catch their toddler on camera in a priceless pose, the image went viral within weeks.

Skeptical Baby Meme

The images of these kids reflect feelings or emotions that are further accentuated in the text. This combination of humour and incomplete language has become a reoccurring theme among memes, and ultimately form new socially typifying languages that we as social media users have come to appreciate.

The viral power of the meme is only matched by the difficulty of knowing when you’ve found a winner. Marketers use famous memes in their advertising and subsequently pay a hefty sum to license the image. It would seem supremely easier and cheaper to simply just create a new meme and allow it to go viral, but therein lays the problem.

Memes are highly unpredictable and essentially untraceable: there is no recipe or hard science on which picture, video, or joke will go viral next. It can often take years for a meme to be discovered before it goes viral and there have been countless examples of this.

Remember Rebecca Black’s song “Friday”? Firstly my deepest condolences if you do. Secondly though, it is a great example of an Internet trend lying dormant before gaining unprecedented coverage years later. Black uploaded the video to YouTube way back in 2011, although it wasn’t until years later that it went viral after a Tweet caught the attention of thousands.

The scale of the song was unheard of, with over 167 million views and 3.1 millions dislikes (87% of the total ratings) it proved that terrible content can go viral just as much its popular or funny counterpart.

Much like the celebrated baby memes though, the financial fallout from the video was massive, where through two million ITunes downloads it earned Black $1.4 million in just a few days.

The power of memes is clear to marketers and advertisers, the real issues lies in replicating the science that makes them so popular. Much like the Internet itself, memes are dynamic and unpredictable in a way that coincides with topical issues currently prevalent within society.

Twitter and Journalism

The digital age has revolutionised the media industry for journalists and readers alike. Not only has it reinvented the way we access and read our news, but also the ways in which journalists source and write their articles. The major factor for the shifting landscape of the journalism industry is Twitter. Without a doubt the most influential application to be released over the past decade, Twitter gives us access to an unlimited amount of news material and it’s all at the touch of a button.

There are a number of positive and negative bi-products of Twitter that need to be considered when assessing its impact on journalism.

The two traditional phases of the news cycle are now void. In the past, journalists would act as gatekeepers, where a story would be written and published before the public then had chance to read it and reply via an opinion or comment piece. As a result of Twitter, users have to ability to comment on articles immediately and actually communicate with the author.

It is this immediate nature of Twitter that has essentially ended the concept of ‘the scoop’ as we knew it. In the past, if a journalist broke a new headline than it would typically remain as a breaking story for at least 24 hours. Now however, when somebody breaks a news story it’s lucky to last two minutes before people are Tweeting similar headlines and writing their own account of events.

twitter-journalism2

This has the potential to be very dangerous, where “51% of PR professionals agreed that the reliability of news has decreased due to social media and [a] lack of fact-checking” (Kemsley, 2014). A recent example of exactly this came after the death of South Africa model Reeva Steenkamp. Just hours after the story broke on Twitter, there were a number of wild theories and facts being thrown around which were later proved to be completely false.

Perhaps the silver lining on this cloud is that journalists on Twitter have the power to rectify their errors and update their article as the facts become clearer.

Twitter has a huge appeal for journalists because it gives them access to the opinions and comments of people around world. By identifying what is ‘trending’, journalists can essentially give the people what they want by writing articles about hot topics.

Similar to this, the ‘Retweet’ and ‘Share’ functions are crucial for online journalists. The more people that Share of Retweet their article, the greater their audience size, background and reach.

Knowing that having more ‘followers’ is the key to reaching a greater audience, the online identity and reputation of journalists has become more important than ever. Presenting a positive and successful image is an inherent human desire, and this is no different online.

realtwitterjournalism

Presenting a desirable identity of one’s self has become a lot easier to manipulate and design, given the emergence of social networking sites. This is crucial for journalists, who traditionally need to have a positive reputation in order to secure major news stories and interviews with key witnesses. With so many different news sites online, it becomes all the more important for journalists to project a strong, trustworthy and professional image. Intrinsically connected to this, journalists need to be able to produce a well-researched, in depth article, one that users can justify paying a digital subscription for. In an age where citizen journalists have become more and more prominent, the battle to be considered a legitimate and major news site is a tough one.

social-media-reputation-trust-profile-identity

Likewise for citizen journalists, gaining the trust of the public can often be an issue in itself, particularly when you’re just starting out. Unsurprisingly, most experts agree that to be considered a legitimate news site the author is best served to follow the MEAA Code of Ethics. By promoting the values of honesty, independence, fairness and respect, will subsequently allow you to produce fair and professional news article.

Twitter has changed the media industry indefinitely and as a result journalism and its key structures have evolved. The media industry is a dynamic environment that is constantly adapting and changing to keep up with the new technologies it has become so reliant on.

References

Finding Credibility

Credibility is one of the most vital aspects of journalism, a trait that ultimately allows the media to fulfil its role as the fourth estate. With the rise of digital journalism and countless technological innovations, credibility, reliability and ethical considerations have become all the more important. In particular, the ability to recognise a credible site and/or news article is a vital skill, especially given the massive amounts of news material available online.

For better or worse though, the appearance of a news site will play a massive role in judging the credibility of its content, and that’s before an article on the site has been read.

For the most part, people judge credibility in one of four ways – even if they aren’t aware of it. These fours aspects make up ‘Fogg’s model of perceived credibility’, as seen below.

Foggs Model

Surface credibility relates to the appearance of a website and plays a clinical role in how the user perceives and judges the site.

I’m sure everyone has experienced online shopping at one point or another, and much like digital journalism, our first impressions are formed on the aesthetics of the site itself.

Take for example this website screen shot below. Immediately even by looking at the title ‘Welcome winner’ it screams dodgy. Further exploration of the site reveals it does not have Paypal or any other secure banking methods. These are just a few examples of the subconscious checklist we have developed to help decipher what we do and do not trust.

Dodgy Site

Credibility in journalism is no different to online shopping, where we are more inclined to put our trust in the big companies and disregard the less well-known sources.

The significance of surface credibility was reinforced in a recent study conducted at the University of California. The study collected data from 574 participants who were asked to assess the perception of message, site, and sponsor credibility, across four different genre websites (Flanigan, Metzger, 2007)

The results were striking; whereby credibility assessments appear to be primarily associated with design features, content depth and site complexity, rather than a familiarity with the websites sponsors (Flanigan, Metzger, 2007)

Given the overwhelming response by participants, it becomes clear just how important it is for bloggers to design and maintain their site in a way that looks trustworthy and professional. Particularly when bloggers can often have significantly more credibility and honour in what they are trying to achieve, as opposed to media organisations which can often be influenced by commercial gains.

On the flip side of the coin though, many media practitioners place more emphasis on social validation as opposed to traditional expert sources in recognising credibility (Hargittai, et al., 2010). Again, this further reinforces the benefits interacting and commenting on other blogs that you find interesting. Blogging is a two part activity, it is about writing your own articles, and then similarly critically reading and reviewing other blogs!

One interesting tactic I found for improving the credibility of your blog is by ‘guest posting’. Guest posting is when another user gives you the opportunity to write an entry on their blog, this adds diversity and a foreign opinion. If you do get the opportunity to guest blog, then you can also display their logo on your site and vice versa – this is usually done on the sidebar or near the main navigation bar. No matter what the location though, this well an truly raises the credibility of your blog (Jan, 2014)

With all of this in mind, it looks like I may need to brush up on my tech skills and give this WordPress a little bit more credibility!

References

  • Flanagin, A., Metzger, M., 2007, ‘The role of site features,user attributes, and information verification behaviors on the perceived credibility of web-based information’, New Media and Society, volume 9, no.2, pp.319.
  • Hargittai, E., Fullerton, L., Menchen–Trevino, E.,Thomas, L,. 2010. ‘Trust online: Young adults’ evaluation of Web content,’ International Journal of Communication, volume 4, pp. 468.
  • Jan, M., 2014, ‘5 Ways to Add Credibility to your Website & Attract a Bigger Audience’, writing happiness.com, Accessed: 4/9/2014, http://writinghappiness.com/add-credibility-blogging/

The Internet & News Media

The Internet has brought with it a new era for news media, redefining the ways in which we access and interact with the news we consume on a daily basis. It’s hard to imagine life without the Internet – did people really use to go to the library when they wanted to research an essay?

Similarly the paperback newspaper, whilst still relevant today, has become much less common following the development of new technologies like the smart phone and tablet. These technologies, which harness the unlimited potential of the Internet, provide a huge number of options for any individual seeking to access the news. In fact according to the most recent statistics, 33% of people read their news media on more than one device, as illustrated below. 

Media Consumption

This led me to ask the question – Does the platform we use to read the news change the way we consume it?

Online v Paperback

Reading a few journal articles online the results were a little bit unnerving. In fact a lot of studies had been done in the area, but the one that received the most media coverage was titled ‘Is Google making us stupid’. The study put forward the notion that ‘people who read text studded with links, comprehend less than those who read words printed on pages’ (Carr, 2010).

In an increasingly digitally oriented world, this presents a serious issue for our ability to critically interact with the content we are reading. This ability is becoming all the more valuable, particularly when online newspapers produce significantly more junk journalism than their paperback counterparts, who have a greater focus on quality and investigative journalism.

Internet Monkey

The counter argument to this is exactly the opposite and represents a view held by a number of leading experts. In the wake of the Google study, the Pew Research Center decided to conduct a survey, focusing on 895 technology experts who were asked questions about their expectations relating to social, economic and political change by the year 2020.

Referring directly to Nicholas Carr’s book ‘Google Will Make Us Stupid’, 76% of respondents dismissed the claim, arguing that ‘by 2020, people’s use of the Internet will have enhanced human intelligence’ (Anderson, Rainie, 2010).

While the argument that the Internet is making us stupid is still up for debate, there is little to no doubt that the quality of journalism has dropped in transitioning to the web. With so much competition online, readers have developed this tendency to skim over news until something captures their attention.

Despite some newspapers offering a finite number of ‘free’ articles to read online, most of the major newspapers are beginning to introduce subscription fees. Whilst this is a positive thing, as it promotes quality journalism, it will also drive a number of people the plethora of free alternatives.

Passive readers who seek free alternatives only serve to enhance the large amounts of junk journalism online. Without quality journalism, the media in its role as the fourth estate begins to lose its traction within society – that’s if you still believe the fourth estate exists of course.

Google

Never before have we had access to so much information at the touch of a button, although the main argument that Carr was attempting to make was in relation to our cognitive abilities or rather there lack of. Carr also calls in to question the effect that the Internet has on our memories, because why would you bother writing something down when you can simply type it into Google later?

 The fast paced, dynamic nature of the Internet has our attention constantly switching between different things and Carr argues that this will affect our ability to properly digest what we are reading. Perhaps the issue is made more significant when we think of the roles that sites like Wikipedia play in our everyday lives.

Wikipedia is often used as the first-stop shop for developing a very general understanding on a topic, which is reinforced as it often appears as the top hit on Google Search. Again the issue comes back to the fact that anybody can edit Wikipedia, leaving many to doubt the accuracy of the information being posted. It is becoming increasingly important for individuals to know quality journalism when they see it and to engage with the material being written.

Digital media is here to stay and without a doubt the future of journalism. How we interact and access our news becomes therefore all the more important. Perhaps the Roman Philosopher Seneca summed it up perfectly 2,000 years ago when he said, “to be everywhere is to be nowhere” (Tosta, 2013). Never before has this statement had so much relevance in this digital age.

 

References

 

 

 

Social Networking Sites: Marketings New Weapon

During our Week 2 lecture we looked at the rise of Web 2.0, and in particular the increasing popularity of Social Networking Sites (SNS). The reading, ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’, by Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison presented a snapshot of the history of SNS and how they’ve changed over time.

The first social media sites began to emerge way back in 1997 with a site called ‘Six Degrees’, which used a layout that has been fairly consistent for all right SNS for the past nearly two decades. “While SNS have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their back-bone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends” (Boyd, D, Ellison, N, 2008)

One thing that has changed over time though, is the ways in which we use social media. Perhaps the most famous SNS in the short history of the Internet is Facebook, which was created by Mark Zuckerberg.

Originally called ‘Facemash’, the site was restricted to Harvard University students who used it to rate their fellow classmates. Despite landing him in hot water with the University hierarchy, the site was incredibly popular. It was this popularity that inspired Zuckerberg to write the code for what we now know as Facebook.

facebook-1st-website-from-dhaka-city-guide

This is all well and good, but like I said the sticking point for me is the changing nature in which we use social media. In the digital age that is, social media and SNS have become a key component in how we operate not only socially, but also professionally.

SNS that offer free user registrations traditionally make a profit by selling advertising space, in tandem with the information provided by its users. Advertising on Facebook operates slightly different to AdWords (Google’s paid advertising product) in that “Facebook ads are targeted to the users’ demographic and interests, not what they’re searching for” (North, E, 2014)

While buying advertising space on Facebook is proven to increase publicity, there are just as many if not more strategies for promoting your brand on SNS without spending a dime. The amount of books, articles and courses you can take to improve your online marketing skills for Facebook are evidence enough of this.

MDIA5002 Blog Post Image 1

The development of SNS that solely target business alone have become increasingly popular over recent years, with LinkedIn being at the forefront of these platforms. Created to help business’ nurture and grow their connections, it also gives job seekers a place to search for openings in the industry and promote themselves professionally.

I recently read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) by Elsita Meyer-Brandt, who conducted a study about the use of social media in increasing sales. Working in the events industry, Elsita analysed the transactions across the business for a period of time, this then allowed her to identify which transactions were linked with their social media campaign.

The results that came from the study were interesting to say the least; particularly given that this was study was conducted within the Australian marketplace. The results showed that:

  • “One message on social media delivers $4.80 in additional revenue”
  • “A single share resulted in nine additional visits on average”
  • “Twitter lead this trend with one share generating on average 38 additional visits” to the website”
  • “Twitter is Australia’s most effective social channel” (Meyer-Brandt, E, 2014)

Of all the SNS that were used, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were proven to be the most effective for advertising online. For the most part this is not surprising; to begin with, Facebook’s sheer user numbers and popularity make it a powerful marketing tool for anyone. LinkedIn was setup to cater to businesses and job seekers, its niche market makes it the perfect platform for advertising. Twitter is supremely popular amongst the older generation and its 140 character limit often leaves its reader thirsty for more information, an intriguing or eye catching Tweet is therefor crucial when Twitter is used as a marketing tool.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve gained a first hand insight in to the ways different demographics use social media and the common trends amongst them.

Working in the marketing sector for a Players Association (the Rugby Union Players Association, or RUPA), we produce media that targets the players. Like most professional codes, the age for a professional Rugby player in Australia generally spreads from 18 up to about 34, although some players may play for longer.

With our two main platforms being Instagram and Twitter, it didn’t take me long to realize the split in its users. All of the younger players, 18 to say 23/24 used Instagram. While some of these players also used Twitter, the vast majority of Twitter users were the older blokes, 25 and over. This was extremely useful in that we could tailor the way we used our social media to reach our intended audience, much the same as any business would.

References

  • Boyd, D, & Ellison, N, 2008, ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, pp210-217