Thanks to all of you guys who have followed and seemingly enjoyed #Bones’ journeys for my #photoaday challenge for grad school. He says he’s had enough notoriety for now, though, so it’s back to ‘business.’ Farewell!
I”ve been an Instagram user since 2012. As such, I guess this is not an appropriate medium to use for an assignment that instructed us to use a new tool and one not discussed in class. I’m pretty sure we didn’t take up Instagram officially in class, so maybe it qualifies at least on that front. But how I feel it IS appropriate to select ths platform for this assignment is because I have suddenly gained insight on how to use the application right. So it’s like it’s all new to me.
What caused me to realize some things about my Instragram use was a link shared by Nitzana that offered analytics for Instagram use. It’s called Iconosquare. And it’s very easy to use. But reading those results were not easy. Let me explain.
Because for once in my life I was a fairly early adopter with Instagram (within my circle of friends in Chattanooga, at least), I’ve had an opinion that my IG account was pretty darn active. I like to take photos, and I also like to archive them. IG has been a great outlet and resource on this front, beyond being terribly fun to see the ways all my fellow users employed the app. It has felt like that my IG has been pretty popular–highly frequented even.
For example: My most liked potos have some miserable rankings in the scheme of things.15? Seriously? That’s might highest number of likes? I was convinced I had higher numbers than that.
And what about my frequent buddies showing me IG love? I know that certainly there are a few on my friends list that like EVERYTHING I post. Deluded again. So many posts, and even Renay–my best friend of over 20 years–has only liked me 27 times. Really? This has all made me do something thinking. And it occurred to me. “Maybe it’s because you don’t have enough IG friends.”
Simple enough realization, I guess, but it hadn’t happened because I was too busy focusing on quality and content posted instead of the size of my audience. Well I fixed that. I revamped my friends list to include as many people in my contacts list I could thing to add. I’ve seen an increase on my friends list of over 45 people in the last week.
So yeah. IG is new. For me. I’ve been SHOCKED at how much new activity has been prompted. And i’m excited to see how this platform can help me grow my engagement within the social media realm.
Assignment: In your journal blog, describe what your Facebook strategy and goals might be.
I’ve repeatedly established that I’m a good bit behind the curve when it comes to social media adoption and use. I typically have only co-opted to use social media because everyone else was. That was the case initially, for sure. It was incumbent to create a MySpace and then, even though I had a healthy presence there, I felt pretty much forced to go over to FaceBook because everyone else did.
Naturally, I was slow to be active on FaceBook. At once I learned it was a different animal than MySpace–not nearly as blog friendly and it lacked alot of the visual appeal and personalization aspects I had grown to enjoy on MySpace. But because I had learned the value of using MySpace as a “stage” where I “performed” for my willing fans (through blogging or posting videos of myself performing on stage at that time or through the ease of archiving pictures on that site), I did my best to adapt to FaceBook’s “stage.” This was an altogether different performance, though–much more succinct and far less personal.
Over the years, I’ve learned that being succinct and less personal is a good thing for me though. We know that general privacy rapidly becomes a larger concern, as discussed in this week’s reading. It’s on the note of personal privacy where FaceBook and social media in general are growing concerns for me.
I’ve said it before–my sexuality is not something I typically broadcast when I can’t control the audience. And that’s largely out of respect for the audience. Not everyone I know either wants to or needs to know that I’m same-sex attracted. (Indeed, when I was MySpace active, an anonymous person printed out a photo of myself with my boyfriend at the time from that site, taped it to a post card and mailed the photo to my mother. Luckily she never saw that because my sister-in-law scooped it out of my parents’ mailbox just in time. You can’t make this stuff up.)
And recently and to divulge another sensitive story in my personal life, I was messaged on FaceBook by a friend of my daughter’s family (yes, I said daughter) disparaging me about how I hadn’t been involved in that little girl’s life (long story). I made some major changes to my privacy settings after that incident by limiting my visibility to friends only. And by blocking not a few people. Social media makes the world smaller. And indeed, my social media presence and participation is precarious.
Because of the various and sundry issues, my FaceBook strategy has always been a sort of “what they don’t know won’t hurt ’em” mentality–and further, “be very careful about what you DO let ’em know.” I’ve let my hair down since I moved to Memphis, and because I value the “stage” aspect of social media more than ever before because most of my friends live over six hours away and because they’ve grown accustomed to my “performances.”
But the performance has had to be altered.
I used a FaceBook analytics program called Wolframalpha to actually get a handle on what is really going on with my FaceBook activity so I can be more sensible about how to best use it for my personal brand going forward.
The results were, to be conversational about it, very cool.
For example, it’s good to know my friends are largely female. They’re usually more comfortable with gay guys. And the ladies on my friends list have evidenced they’re by far bigger fans of #Bones. This knowledge will help me in going forward to know that I’m working with an audience that is almost 2/3 female.
I learned about my typical FaceBook activity from this metric analysis. We read more frequently all the time about what time of day is best to post on social media.
I clearly have trends in my personal use. And I believe my habits largely reflect what sources like The Huffington Post indicate are best practices according to time of day to post. This graphic also demonstrates that I largely use my iPhone to post–good information to know regarding purchasing/upgrading mobile phone service.
In considering how I will employ what I’m learning about social media best practices where FaceBook is concerned, I believe it’s also significant for me to consider the content that I post. I’ve seen recently that by linking to my blog on FaceBook creates exponential spikes on my blog activity. Clearly, I can utilize this technique to drive more traffic to my blog,
considering that I have 768 sets of eyes potentially looking at my FaceBook activity. This makes it all the more important to think more seriously about the wording and writing that I use on FaceBook. My “audience” knows me as a writer. Many of my friends are FaceBook immigrants from back in the day when I blogged heavily on MySpace. They pay attention to my words. And after looking at this word cloud from the analytics, I should pay more attention, too. Evidently I spend alot of time talking about “time” on FaceBook (not altogether in a positive sense most of the time now that I think about it). “Memphis” and” Chattanooga” are prominent words, as well as “new.” It’s easy to discern from just a glance at this that my FaceBook musings have been largely focused on my recent move to Memphis for grad school. This is a compelling glance at word usage/content.
Further and regarding content, it’s clear I need to focus more on posting photos. Studies continue to show that posting pictures is a very effective way to prompt engagement–especially the type of photos that are compelling enough not to warrant captions. As a sometime professional photographer, I understand this and I believe myself capable in creating content of this nature that can be compelling. These results prompt
me to be more enthusiastic about posting more photos in the future. Because curation is an important new trend (and because, considering the graphic to the right I hardly every do it), linking to my creative writing blog and other sites of interest is a needful area in my FaceBook usage. It’s a tendencyI’ve largely avoided in the past, but it is inevitable that I must improve in that arena so I can increase engagement with my FaceBook activity.
It’s amazing how infographics and data analytics can create an entirely different perception of one’s activity online. As with many other instances I’m encountering in this course and in graduate school at large, I’m new to alot of this. It actually kinda strikes fear inside me when every week rolls around and some other new social media concept has been mine to tackle. I feel like I’ve been largely successful and functionality in the online realm has increased significantly for my personal brand, for my online recreation and for promotion of my blog.
But when it comes to FaceBook, I’ve been very comfortable in that realm for a long time and have considered myself fairly savvy. But maybe not so much. With increased privacy concerns and with a glance at the figures I’ve included herein, I see several easy activities I can increase on my FaceBook wall that will further my engagement with others. And armed with these new illustrations of that Facebook reality, I can do so with less concern and more wisdom about how to compose content that won’t create further drama where my personal life is concerned.
The goal is increased engagement–especially when I can feel lonely in a new city and when I want to drive people to my blog. But the wisdom is not in simply more content, but the right kind of content–so that increased engagement is achieved but in the most positive way for everyone involved.
Assignment: Find an additional academic journal article on social media (you can choose a particular network or site) uses and gratifications to briefly summarize in your journal blog.
This weeks’ reading highlighted age, social class, gender-related and cultural implications of uses and gratifications pertaining to social media. I found an academic article that added another fold to the layers–professional athletes’ use of Twitter.
Not surprisingly, I’m not much of a sports fan. But finding myself suddenly intrigued to such an extent by uses and gratifications pertaining to social media, this 2010 article by Hambrick, Simmons, Greenhalgh and Greenwell showcasing a content analysis of Twitter use by professional athletes was compelling reading.
The authors conducted a study to see how sports communication in general and particularly that of athletes themselves might be evolving via Twitter, when professional athletics has traditionally been a hearty user of media to communicate with its publics. Essentially, the authors found that Twitter use has veritably changed the nature of this communication and demonstrates itself in six specific topic areas:
The Tweets for the content analysis were drawn from sportsin140.com, a website devoted to identifying verified athlete Twitter accounts. The authors wrote, “rather than sanitized, impersonal communications about the latest game filtered through a team’s public relations department, professional athletes tweets tend to be more direct and address topics beyond sport.” This humanizes the athletes and, to some extent, allows fans to enjoy a more accessible and interpersonal relationship with them. Much like what others have discussed about Twitter use in the black community, the authors found that professional athletes likewise largely use Twitter to communicate directly, whether it was from athlete-to-athlete or from athlete-to-fan in an unfiltered and personalized manner rather than in the more publicly communicative sense typically associated with general Twitter use.
The reading material compiled for this week’s topic of Social Media Uses and Gratifications was by far the most compelling and interesting reading to me for the semester. Perhaps I might’ve considered a career in media psychology, because attempting to understand how and why people use their preferred types of media is quite intriguing to me. Add to this innate curiosity the reality that I have lived through the decades where contemporary forms of media did not exist and have had to evolve through my own sensibilities about my personal media uses and gratifications in both a pre-Internet and post-Internet reality. I’ve been a college student on both sides of that Internet fence as well. It all adds up to compelling ways of thinking.
Where new media forms are concerned, I’m truly enjoying being somewhat observant to the proverbial ground floor of uses and gratifications study. Indeed, reading through some of the selections (especially the Hargittai and Hsieh study), it’s likely the same experience as other students had when television first surfaced as a medium and academic study attempted to define its realities and how it would be used and/or its effect on society. This is historical research happening before our eyes, as it were. And if I live long enough, I’m confident I’ll look back on ideas and terminology like “dabblers” and “omnivores” and remember when they were first applied to social media–and that I was there when it all emerged.
Beyond the engaging aspect of the research and observation, though, what do scholars and industry professionals say about how social media is being used and for what purposes?
Repeatedly in this week’s selections and in other academic uses and grats studies, we consider the behavior of young people. Typically falling into the category of ‘early adopters‘ per Rogers’ diffusion of innovation theory, young person behavior with social media provides abundant insight–especially considering, as Boyd pointed out in her paper, some sites like MySpace and FaceBook were directly targeted to high school and college-aged users. As Boyd suggested, the Myspace/Facebook dynamic highlighted more than increased use by young people, but a larger demonstration that online activity reflects cultural tendencies even in social class-oriented-behavior. Appropriately pointing out that sometimes the media itself can set a tone for certain media by the way it characterizes them, Boyd’s contentions are that social media use is borne out of the social and cultural capital, attitudes, social network, geography, race and religion aspects in everyday life that identify us with our own social classes. Because of factors even as simple as visual appeal (where one site’s “blingy” appeal for some classes comes off as “gaudy” to others), she concludes that “in a society where we can’t talk about class, we can see [class struggle] play out online.”
This phenomenon is reified by Manjoo’s observation of ethnic use of Twitter. This piece was just a specific example of cultural/class-oriented social media use, but it’s compelling for me to read about this because it demonstrates a far different reality than my own use of Twitter and that of any of the dozens I have interacted with–as a white, gay man. Ethnic use of Twitter in the “oral-dissing” tradition of the black community and in the “call-and-response” tradition using what Manjoo dubbed “blacktags” is something I have only randomly witnessed among classmates and some coworkers but have never really acknowledged as such. Yet this is a perfect example of cultural social media proclivity, just as when Boyd suggests that latinos might have been more predominant on MySpace because of the vivid visual (aka “blingy”) nature of its online presentation. The use of Twitter in the black community as a means to talk to each other directly rather than broadcasting messages is a tendency that I also found interesting and that I can remember seeing before I understood it as a trend. This whole observation makes me curious if there can be enough discernible Twitter evidence to study trends of usage within the gay community. That seems like a great idea for a study. 😉
Considering, then, that certain groups of the population or maybe even underrepresented segments of the population have identifiable uses for certain types of social media, a piece by Brown aptly suggests the “civic value” for journalists to pay attention to this habits and behaviors. Essentially, targeting these previously or typically underrepresented groups in the new media realms where they interact most and knowing those ways of interaction can help bring about a sooner demolition that state of being underrepresented–in both coverage and reach.
Finally, as Hargittai and Hsieh pointed out, understanding not only the frequency and nature of social media use but also the diversity of it is imperative. As previously stated, I really appreciated this article because of its innovation and insight. While basic, it provides new semantics for uses and gratifications theory where social media are concerned. Whether on the “dabbler” end of the spectrum of use, where mainly one social networking site (SNS) is used and only randomly, or on the “omnivore” end where at many SNS’s are used and at least one to an extensive level, this article adds depth to prior considerations of age, race and cultural considerations that have been pushed to the forefront once again in the context of social media use. This depth reflects that sex even sex (with women being more intense users of social media than men) and even technical skill can play a role.
Indeed, this was a fascinating week to read for J7330. 😉