It’s 2014 and, as I’m sure you’re noticed, social media is everywhere. Last night’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII, aka #SuperBowlXLVIII, garnered 24.9 million Tweets, according to mediabistro. This event and so many others (i.e. last weekend’s Grammy Awards), have demonstrated social media’s inherent power to bring people together online and get them talking.
According to ME Marketing Services founder, Mandy Edwards, learning how to effectively use and manage social media accounts is necessary to promote one’s social media presence online. In today’s arguably over-saturated social media sphere, it is clearly important to determine whom your online audience is and what they want to read about in your social media posts to build a diverse network of followers and thus increase your online persona. While watching the Super Bowl last night, I found myself much more interested in the online conversations (shocker, I know) being prompted by the game, the halftime show and the commercials. My interest of course, was furthered by the types of Tweets and Facebook posts I was reading—those published by people in my network who have similar interests (the commercials, not the game) and opinions (which ads were the best, and why) to me. In Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman’s book, Networked: The New Social Operating System, the authors present the idea of networked individualism and consider how social media and networking are both socially liberating and socially taxing. As I read through Rainie and Wellman’s evidence to support the Internet’s benefits, I reflected on my own media habits the night before. When I first turned on the Super Bowl, I had two choices—to either watch on my own, form my own opinions of the game, etc. and take a socially liberal approach to viewing the big game, or I could log onto my Facebook and Twitter accounts and read the thoughts and opinions of the millions of others around the country who were also watching. Naturally, my choice was to stay connected throughout the game to others via social media. While my socially taxing approach to watching resulted in my mind filling with new information every minute, I also realized I was totally glued to my cell phone, and no longer interacting with the people whom I was actually watching the game with. But, according to Rainie and Wellman, my actions were O.K., because while social media has provided some stressors, it’s most importantly provided countless opportunities for people to connect, share thoughts and ideas and reach far beyond the people they’re sitting with. The Internet (namely, social media) succeeds in extending my personal reach while also allowing people to reach me, which significantly improves my social media presence, online persona and network. So thanks to Networked’s clear explanation of the benefits of networking online, I will continue to be happily glued to my cell phone during big, televised events (next up is the Oscars, March 2nd!) to interact with others via social media. And for the record: RadioShack’s 80’s themed commercial was far more entertaining than #SuperBowXLVIII.