What happens after everyone’s on Facebook?
Will this ever happen?
The simple answer: it’s definitely possible. Though the world’s population just passed the 7 billion mark and is on pace to reach 10 billion by 2050, the use of social networking sites is also on the rise. But, wait, online social networking sites, like Facebook, are relatively young, compared to natural social networking like Humanity, which has been exponentially growing since the Industrial Revolution. The growth of online social networking sites would have to add everyone currently alive before eventually keeping pace with population growth. Considering that Facebook continues to grow at about 10 percent per year, this pace may be possible. Of course, the big limiting factor here is the fact that not everyone has access to the Internet. In fact, only 2.24 billion people are online, according to the latest figures from the International Telecommunications Union.
However, let’s pretend we live in a universally-connected world (which is very possible in the near future with continued development). Everyone has access to the Internet. Would everyone then make a Facebook account? The latest statistics from the Pew Research Internet Project tell us “yes.” Seventy-three percent of adults use social networking sites. With 71 percent of those online users having a profile, Facebook is far and away the most popular social networking site.
Great! Now, we’re all connected on Facebook. Now what happens? This is the playground of futurists and science fiction writers. As a fan of science fiction, I’ve read a few novels that include universal social networking-like themes. Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars opens with the protagonist and his friends playing in a fully submersible virtual world. (I know some people who sometimes feel like Candy Crush and Mafia Wars are real life.) Of course, there are also lots of science fiction books and movies that depict futures in which people live there lives out in computer-generated realities (e.g. The Matrix). I don’t think this is our future, but I can’t More often than not, science fiction is only fiction for a short time before it becomes fact. What reality will we choose to live in?
As a kid, I remember shoveling into my mouth the last spoonfuls of my Honey Nut Cheerios, hurriedly draining my cereal bowl of sweet, sweet milk, and sliding the bowl and spoon into the sink. I would fly from the bar stool to the breakfast nook and speed down the hall to the computer room, where I would have 10 or 15 minutes to play Honey Nut Cheerios: Honey Defender before I leaving for school. I’d help Buzz the bee defend his honey against thieves so that the next box of Honey Nut Cheerios would be as delicious as the last. Little did I know General Mills, the maker of Honey Nut Cheerios, was using the game to get me to buy more cereal.
It’s all a part of a new marketing frontier called “Content Marketing.” Some businesses, like John Deere, have been marketing products through magazines since the end of the nineteenth century. Other companies, especially recent start-ups, are coming into the game during a boom fueled by the ubiquity of social media. Zapier--a company that connects different apps together–would not have existed a decade ago; however, today the company uses content marketing in a business-to-business model. Danny Schreiber, a Creighton alumnus and new content marketer at Zapier, visited my Social Media class to talk about Zapier’s content marketing.
According to Schreiber, content marketing requires extensive measurements of social media engagement, exhaustive promotion of the product, and meticulous SEOing of material. When he began his job at Zapier last fall, Schreiber outlined seven steps to successful content marketing for Zapier.
- Choosing a topic. The topic Zapier focuses on is productivity. Their weekly blog posts focus on increasing productivity in businesses.
- Effectively use six different content types.
- Finding ways to weave promotion into content. An example would be to include Zapier in a listicle of apps that improve productivity.
- Setting up an editorial schedule. Schreiber tries to post to the Zapier blog every Tuesday.
- Measuring. Schreiber determines whether views of blog posts convert to sales of the product.
- Promoting. Schreiber will often link to other products and blogs.
- Guest posting. He hopes linking to other blogs will encourage those organizations to share his blog post.
Content marketing is a budding frontier, with some measurable success. Well, it definitely worked on me. I still eat Honey Nut Cheerios to this day.
The Nebraska Human Society is all about providing sanctuary, protection and adoption of animals. Walking into the main building on their campus off of Fort Street, one’s awed by all the things that are happening under one roof: animal education, training, healthcare and adoption. It’s very much a cat and dog (and apparently, rat) world. After you tour the kennels in the back of the building, you almost can’t leave without at least considering taking some critter home. But as much as it is about animals at the NHS office, its all about the bipedal animal–man–on the society’s social media pages.
When I looked at the NHS Facebook page last Wednesday, the organization had almost 45,000 followers. Elizabeth Hilpipre, the society’s social media guru, explained how the organization uses a combination of metrics, engagement and cute animals to promote the mission of the society. Society’s powerful presence online has grown over the course of four years because of Elizabeth’s tireless work. Elizabeth understands Facebook’s algorithm and how to promote her content through sharing and posting at specific times. She responds to questions, though the task is tiring. She knows what people want, and she delivers, using it to her advantage.
For example, Elizabeth knows people universally love puppies, so she posted a picture of puppies. The post was shared and liked a multitude of people. Then, taking advantage of the popularity of the society’s page, she posted a picture of a pitbull named “Boomer,” who was have trouble finding a home. The popularity of the puppies’ picture made the society’s posts more relevant and put the posts higher on followers’ newsfeeds. Within a day of posting about the homeless pitbull, Boomer had found a home.
The power of social media is awe-inspiring, and if one can harness its power, one can raise a lot of money and attention for good causes. In her time at NHS, Elizabeth has raised nearly $200,000 for the non-profit organization, which depends on donations. But, perhaps what’s most rewarding is that because of Elizabeth’s efforts, many animals have found a home.
How often do you hang around people with different views from your own? Be honest–not very often. Why is that? We’re always told to go out and talk to people with different opinions, different beliefs, different views. We call it “getting some perspective” or “hearing the other side.” But once we’ve found that perspective and come near to the end of our wits listening to that other side, we don’t continue the conversation. In fact, we drop the conversation entirely and move onto more agreeable topics. Only later do we pick up the conversation again with like-minded people to consider what we have learned from the other side.
As our lives have increasingly transitioned into the online world, these interactions have moved online too. The Pew Research Internet Project has mapped our conversations on Twitter (scary!) and found that the Polarized Crowd network structure, as described above, is only one of several types of crowds and conversations that take place on Twitter. Before the institute’s analysis sounds intrusive like the highly-criticized NSA surveillance program, consider their findings: “There are at least six distinctive structures of social media crowds which form depending on the subject being discussed, the information sources being cited, the social networks of the people talking about the subject, and the leaders of the conversation.”
The four conversational archetypes on Twitter that appear most in my Twitter feed are Tight Crowd, Community Clusters, Broadcast Network and Support Network. My Editing professor, Sara Ziegler, is attending the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference. As part of her tweets during the conference, she included #ACES2014, so her tweets are grouped with other tweets from the conference, which is a tight crowd of assuredly grammatical sticklers. The tweets of the whole ACES conference are swallowed by the number of tweets related to March Madness. As a follower of CBS and ESPN, I’ve noticed that the two sports news sources are using slightly different hashtags to group conversations about games. These different groupings are a prime example of community clusters. When I am too maddened by the madness (or the state of my bracket), I turn my attention back to real news, like the situation in Crimea. There again I find clusters of conversation surrounding different news sources from CNN to NPR. Though the news of the Russian annexation of Crimea is all the same, twitter users are grouped into different broadcast networks depending upon their source for news. Now, before you think I only use Twitter, I want to say that I do see Twitter as a social networking site. Amongst the tweets about Crimea and Creighton Basketball, I found a tweet from a friend complaining (and rightfully so) about Delta Airlines’ service. I was a little surprised but heartened that Delta responded to her complaint. This be an example of the support network Delta has built around its business.
The torch has been extinguished. The athletes have all gone home, some with metals that testify to their athletic ability and others with newfound canine friends. As the world shifts its attention, Sochi has become a ghost town overnight, with its infamous stray dogs returning to reclaim the streets. There’s no more buzz on social media, no more triumphant tweets. All I find at primetime on NBC are primetime television sitcoms.
The Winter Olympics, which have captivated the world for the past 16 days, are over. And if you’re like me, I’m already asking myself how long until I get to see the beauty of ice dancing, the high flying tricks of freestyle skiing or the precision and skill that is curling again.
Somebody must be wondering the same thing and has posted a countdown to both future Summer and Winter Olympics.
In the meantime, I’m diagnosing myself with the Winter Olympic Blues. And I am prescribing my own medicine: a rundown of my five favorite things from these Games in particular order.
The Stubborn Snowflake
Maybe it speaks to a nation still on the mend from a rocky past. Maybe it sums up the whole record breaking $51 billion Games. Or maybe it is was just a minor glitch in what was otherwise a terrific opening ceremony. Whatever it was, one of the five mammoth snowflakes did not morph into the interlocking Olympic rings. The best is that the Russians made fun of it during the closing ceremony.
When the Internet attacked NBC reporter Christin Cooper for cuasing Miller to cry during a post-race interview, he came to her defense. Cooper asked Miller about his emotions following his Super-G run, which made Miller tear up thinking of his deceased brother, Chelone.
That’s what the Games are all about. When Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth saw Russian Anton Gafarov trying to finish the men’s cross-country skiing sprint with a broken ski, he ran out and replaced the ski with a new one. I wish this kind of cooperation extended beyond the Olympic course.
The costumes. The routines. The duo. The light, quick and lovely American duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White dazzled all with their breathtaking gold medal performance. For me, this event was second only to freestyle skiing.
Before the opening ceremony, the Olympics were all over Twitter. But it wasn’t the coverage event organizers imagined. Journalists were tweeting about unfinished or underprepared hotel rooms in and around the Olympic Games.
As usual, late Sunday night finds me in front of my T.V. absorbed in the newest episode of AMC’s original series “The Walking Dead.” And I’m not alone. The mid-season premiere last Sunday drew a total audience of 15.8 million viewers, more than the Winter Olympics. The zombie apocalypse drama is pretty contagious (pun intended!), to say the least.
The popularity of the show has spread from the living room to the Twitterverse, where hashtags like #TheWalkingDead overrun my newsfeed for hours before and after the show Sunday nights. It’s a part of this trend in social media called “second-screen,” where people tweet or post on Facebook while watching a sports event, political event or T.V. show. Last night, tweets about “The Walking Dead” swamped my Twitter newsfeed, hiding any tweets about the Doug McDermott’s win over Villanova and Bode Miller’s emotional response to winning bronze in the Men’s Super-G. People were tweeting quotes from the episode and pcitures of their viewing parties. Someone even tweeted a picture of his cat scratching at the T.V. during the episode. (That was a winning combination; the Internet loves cats and “The Walking Dead.”) I was easily distracted from my studying and couldn’t wait to get home to watch it.
At the same time, I was a little annoyed that people were spoiling the episode, especially for those who live on the West Coast. One may think that one accepts the risk of spoilers when following twitter accounts of characters from the show, but I follow them more for the entertainment of their in-character jokes and asides. Next Sunday, I’ll think twice about checking my Twitter feed when the episode airs on the East Coast.