Twitter and Organizational Communication

~ A Guest Blog by Stephanie Lutz
College of Communication student and member of Lambda Pi Eta ~

Social Media has become a way of life for most of mainstream society which were once limited to “extreme” users are now a daily activity for many individuals. The explosion of something on the Internet is rapid and hectic, spreading like a disease, or “virally”. The process of social media is awe inspiring and the future of this tool and way of life is just beginning. Five years ago, social media was not what it is today; imagine what it will look like in another five years.

One of the current most talked about social media technologies is Twitter. Twitter is a simple concept, quick short bursts of a thought only 140 characters long (including spaces). Though Twitter may have begun as a simple way for users to “tweet” their thoughts, it has changed into a mechanim for new uses including cause platforms, business ventures, promotion, news, and other personal gains for the user. Celebrities use twitter constantly to promote themselves and gain new fans. Companies and corporations use Twitter for news and enticements about their company, and for creating brand imagery with tweets.

Major corporations use Twitter as their branding puppet. The newest trend in Twitter evolution is the sponsored or promoted “tweets”. This is when a user is looking for tweets about a topic they have a few at the top that are paid advertisements. In Social Networks that matter, it is said that people of academic, business and political backgrounds all use social networking as opportunities. They make the propagation of ideas. The links between the users are not necessarily proving that they interact, and the hidden social network is where the viral spread of ideas or trends starts (Huberman et al.). Companies are creating Twitter accounts to generate buzz about their products or services. Travel companies, such as airlines and hotels use Twitter to promote and maintain their brand and image. The hotels in Las Vegas use tweets to promote their upcoming events and guest stars. Car companies start conversations on Twitter, about their cars to enthusiasts. Marvel, the comic company, talks directly to fans about news of their favorite characters. Other big business corporations, like the airline JetBlue and media provider Comcast, deal with issues customers are having around the country (Van Grove). This process is better than advertising, companies are talking directly to the customers they are trying to reach. Users follow only the brands and companies that they use, like, or are interested in, therefore when businesses tweet they are listening (or reading) with eager attention. It is to be imagined that this form of promotion and advertising is going to go much further in the future.

The simple idea of posting a tweet, a nonsensical thought or idea in 140 characters or less, has evolved and changed so many ways. Companies and corporations are using Twitter to talk directly to their target consumer. It is a new way of advertising that is highly effective in theory. Other brands are using Twitter to garner brand image, buzz, and even help customers with problems. I feel that the changes in the idea of social networking and microblogging, such as Twitter, are only in the infancy stages. The future is going to be more connected, smarter and the Internet is hopefully going to further streamline the mass clutter it has garnered.

Works referenced:

Huberman, B., Romero, D., Wu, F. (2008). “Social Networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope” Cornell University. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0812/0812.1045v1.pdf

Poulter, S. (2010). “Twitter finally allows ads-in the form of ‘promoted tweets’ at the top of search lists.” MailOnline Science & Tech Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1265609/Twitter-launches-paid-advert-tweets-promotes-search-lists.html

Van Grove, J. (2009). “40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them.” Mashable/Business. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/01/21/best-twitter-brands/

Welcome to Fall 2010!

Dear students, faculty, staff, and alumni,

Welcome to the new semester! We are quite excited to have our full complement of college members back on campus and looking forward to the new semester. We will do our best to keep in touch this year, so that we can celebrate our successes together. In addition to this blog, look for college colloquia to be held several times per semester, and a college newsletter that will come out in fall and spring. In addition, you can also join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Glassboro-NJ/College-of-Communication-Rowan-University/136400764960 and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RowanCoC.
Finally, the College of Communication annual report for 2009-2010 is now online at http://www.rowan.edu/colleges/communication/documents/CommunicationAnnualReport2009-10.pdf . Check it out and see what your peers, colleagues, and friends have accomplished in the last year!

LBA

News in the Age of the Internet

The cause/effect relationship between media presentations of news and public perceptions of what is or is not important has long been debated and researched in communication studies.  Various theorists and scholars, as well as media agencies, have proposed a variety of relationships between news media and public sentiment.  Media agents and organizations most commonly claim that they provide viewers with what they want.  They use ratings numbers and viewership statistics to prove that we “like” entertainment news, reality programming, seeing the failures in the lives of others, etc.  Some theorists, such as Stuart Hall, argue that the media are a powerful force that supports and sustains an ideology held by those in power.  Thus, the media give us messages that support the needs and desires of some segments of the culture, while silencing other voices.  Some scholars, like Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, indicate that the media may not tell us what to think, but they certainly tell us what to think about (so, when the breakup of Jon and Kate is one of the top stories on CNN for several weeks running, it seems important to us and thus we spend our mental and communicative energy on it).

Whatever the case, it seems clear that there is some connection between our understandings of the world and what is represented in media messages, particularly with regard to “things” with which we have no direct experience.  Given the upheaval of the media landscape in recent years, we now have to reconsider the connections between the wants/needs/beliefs of viewers and the dominant media messages.

In a spring section of an upper level communication course, I asked students how many of them had read a print newspaper in the preceding week.  One or two hands were raised.  I asked how many had looked at CNN or another corporate news site online in that same period and over half of the class raised their hands.  As we then began to discuss participant “news” sites (blogs, twitter, etc.), it was clear that most of the students in the class had visited more than one participant “news” venue – not simply in the preceding week, but in the day prior to our discussion.  This is an intriguing, and potentially powerful, change to the way news is accomplished.

Even in more traditional media formats, like television or newspapers, the media landscape seems to be changing to a more participatory model.  Online version of print papers contain options for submission of news stories, debates about issues of public concern, and comments on paper content.  CurrentTV, a television “news” network, offers viewers the opportunity to create news “pods,” responses, reviews, and ads – thus bringing more interactivity into broadcast television than has ever been seen before.

So, what does all of this mean for us as media consumers and participants and as cultural and world citizens?  That remains to be seen.  If our interactive media forms are simply another venue to discuss the same issues (last weekend, in Philadelphia, the story of the Eagles signing Michael Vick was top news in traditional formats, and was also one of the most common subjects in Twitter’s news feed), maybe the changes won’t be particularly startling.  But, if these interactive media forms create an avenue for us to bring issues to the forefront that might not otherwise gain public attention, or if they provide us with insight into experiences we cannot access directly or through traditional media, the whole future of how we learn and what we “know” may undergo a seismic change.

In any case, it’s all very exciting for a communication scholar, student, or fan.  So, get “out there” and check it out.  Read some blogs, tune in to CurrentTV, check out the Twitter feed… see what people are saying and make some comparisons between that and what you see in your mainstream media outlets.  What do you think the future of “news media” holds for us?

LBA