My first experience with social media was a dating site for singles in 2009. I had seen commercials about the sites on TV and I wanted to try one since my divorce had just become official. Not long after, a lady I met online, set up a Facebook page for me. At the time I was absolutely clueless about completing such a task. Facebook was very different back then. There were still a limited amount of users on the site and people were more willing to accept friend requests from strangers. In fact, I was able to connect with some really amazing people including entertainers and other public figures. I even webcammed with some and got to know them pretty well. These opportunities would have been unthinkable before the advent of social media.
On the other hand, I’ve also encountered the dark side of Facebook which includes my very own psychotic stalker. This is an old “friend” from high school that is more concerned with what I have and what I am doing than in accomplishing something positive with his own life. His antics have included everything from making fake profiles with my pictures to trying to destroy my personal and professional relationships. Yes, it really has been that bad and no, I won’t be upset if and when he dies. This has been going on for 20 years and social media has made it more diabolical than ever before. I recently began to pray that God will remove this man from my life forever. He is cancer.
As many of you know, much has changed in the way of social platforms since 2009. Most public figures are completely inaccessible except for on fan pages or Twitter and a great deal of the excitement of using the sites has worn off. Nowadays, I only add people I know unless I can verify who they are through a mutual acquaintance. I must say though, I have made some really good friends on Facebook and even had a few from Australia visit my home here in South Carolina.
While some of the fun of using social media sites or SMS is gone, the utility of the sites remain. As Lipshultz aptly states the “proliferation of smartphones has driven interests in mobile devices and media” and I am no different. I still use social media to stay connected with friends and family but now I use it primarily to get news and entertainment. I really enjoy the articles from Men’s Health, and Inc. and will often take the time to read a few throughout the day. I also obtain my national and international news from reasonably credible sources on my newsfeed such as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
My SMS usage consists mostly of Facebook. I actually spend too much time on it quite honestly. To make matters worse, I now have Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat accounts. I also use YouTube to listen to music or for educational purposes. For example, I recently referred to YouTube videos to help me learn the data analysis software called SPSS for a statistics class I just completed. I am reluctant to admit that I also created a personal YouTube channel where I posted a couple of extremely amateur sports podcasts. They’re awful, don’t bother listening.
In 2014, I began blogging for a small sports news and commentary site called The Couch Rider Report and began strategically placing links to the articles on Facebook and Twitter. Later, I moved on to bigger sites affiliated with FanSided where I covered the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens. The idea was to build a small writing portfolio while gaining exposure through the electronic “word of mouth” or EWOM. Sometimes I would get as many as 25,000 clicks! The sites don’t pay, so I am no longer as interested in blogging for others as I had been. I do, however, have my football and racing articles posted on my SMS accounts in hopes of getting a paid writing position. I have learned a great deal about utilizing social media through my Master’s program at Purdue University and have a newfound respect for promoting my own “brand” on these platforms.
When it comes to branding on SMS, I recommend that communications practitioners employ marketing strategies that rely heavily on data mining or “big data collection” as it is referred to by Lipschultz. The best place for organizations to collect intel on me is Facebook because that is where I am most willing to open articles and patiently view ads. It came as no surprise to me that “The news saw the most social traction” in the Lehr study with 28,000 shares per month with entertainment being “the second highest performing vertical” with 17,000 shares. These are the categories that the majority of people are looking for in all forms of media for gratification.
As far as marketing on SMS is concerned, everyone hates the dreaded popup ad. I think the best advertisements include clever comedy skits in short videos because they are effective with a wide audience. Who doesn’t like to laugh? Currently, the most impressive branded content on social media is being delivered through storytelling. I am actually really looking forward to the new SMS platforms that will offer a virtual reality experience. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what I think because Millennials are the new baby boomer generation and they rule the digital world of social media.
Lehr, A. (2015). New data: What types of content perform best on social media? Hubspot Blogs.