The Effectiveness of Social Media

This week’s discussion focused on the ways that social media markets companies to their consumers. I was searching on Ted.com for lectures that discussed how effective social media sites are for business, and to my surprise, I found many negatively based lectures. The lectures I found on Ted.com did not discuss the effectiveness of social media, but the negative side effects to it. I realized that there are not many lectures on why social media is good, because everybody knows its positive effects. Instead, i want to focus how social media is powerful as well as dangerous. 

With everything we do, there is always a consequence. The same goes for social media. James Surowiecki’s lecture, “The power and the danger of online crowds”, goes into detail about how easy social media has made it for journalists, companies, and politics to come onto an easy-read platform that anybody can access. Surowiecki uses the example of the Sri Lanka tsunami in 2004: much of the footage that news networked used on international networks were simple videos used with a cell phone. In the midst of all the chaos and destruction, journalists were not the ones able to get the latest news, but simple local journalists aka bloggers. Bloggers have made it easier for news to be put out there for others to read, and also grasping the attention of major news networks. The downside to this easy accessibility is the lack of credibility that general people have compared to these journalists. The other downside is the bias. One major issue Surowiecki addresses is how memes can be made that target certain companies, events, and other situations. Because memes are easy reads and made to be comical, the harsh words get thrown around and can make companies or situations worse than they actually are. 

Companies may use social media as a way for consumers to stay updated with products and ongoings, but this also gives consumers access to openly ridicule their products openly on social media sites. Tags that are affiliated with a certain brand, but the positive and negative content on those tags are not filtered. This can leave either a good message of quality consumer goods or bad service. The risk is either way. 

James Surowiecki: The power and the danger of online crowds

Filmed: Feb 2005

Accessed: 27 April 2014

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