A recently published study by UCL looked at “why we post”. There were 15 interesting findings:
- Social media is not making us more individualistic
- For some people social media does not detract from education – it is education.
- There are many different genres of selfie.
- Equality online doesn’t mean equality offline.
- It’s the people who use social media who create it, not the developers of platforms.
- Public social media is conservative.
- We used to just talk now we talk photos.
- Social media is not making the world more homogenous.
- Social media promotes social commerce; not all commerce.
- Social media has created new spaces for groups between the public and private.
- People feel social media is now somewhere they live as well as a means for communication.
- Social media can have a profound impact on gender relations sometimes through using fake accounts.
- Each social media platform only makes sense in relation to alternative platforms and the media.
- Memes have become the moral police of online life.
- We tend to assume social media is a threat to privacy but sometimes is can increase privacy.
From a business point of view, I found finding 9 to be the most important, and allied to 10, and 13 can help to guide the development of business strategy that embraces social media. Too often businesses focus on the commercial aspects of “social reach” long before they consider the social aspects of it. It is easy to sink large sums of money into projects that end up delivering little.
The findings that cover equality, gender relations, social homogeneity, and moral guardianship show that these things are impacted by social media, but not in expected ways. There’s some important learning embedded in those elements.
One thing is clear, it’s evolving continuously and the social ways we interact in the next few years probably won’t resemble the ones we use now.