A Look Back

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Coming in to the semester, I thought I had social media figured out. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

To me, it was all play. Now, I realize its worth as a tool. There is an app for almost everything nowadays. Businesses can use social media as free advertising and marketing. People use it to connect with others and get their content out there. It’s more than just play–social media is an important part of our world and our future.

As I’m growing up, I realize that soon, I’m going to have to get a real job and be a functioning adult. There isn’t a company out there who won’t try to check out my social media to see what I’m all about before hiring me. This class gave me that perspective and now I am positive that being too stubborn to clean up my social media accounts can be a hazard to my future. This, however, was my only negative realization about social media. My class at Creighton taught me so much that I can take into my future with me to be successful.

I’m hoping to be a person who uses the Web and media to my advantage, and, if everything works out, maybe make a career out of making it work for other people. This class has given me the tools to do that. Phrases like Search Engine Optimization, Return on Investment, and content marketing used to mean nothing to me, but they are now key components to making sure I have a successful online presence. 

Yes, social media can be used for play (I still do that), but everyone should learn to use it professionally, as well. It can open so many new doors and windows to opportunities that wouldn’t have presented themselves otherwise. So have fun with it, but study up! Social media is always changing to fit the needs of its users. 

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Netflix has Taken Over my Life

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Okay, I know this isn’t exactly social media related, but hear me out.

Netflix has taken over my life.

If you’re not aware of the phenomenon that is Netflix, it’s a website that you subscribe to and pay around $8 a month and can stream any media that they provide, any time you want. Full details here

It all started when my brother texted me one day last school year asking me to split a subscription with him. I, being a responsible college student, said, “No, I have better things to spend my money on and do while I’m in college. Find someone else.” But, summer rolled around and, when I wasn’t working 40 hour work weeks, I was bored. I somehow convinced him to give me his Netflix password for free, and my life has drastically changed.

I see tweets all the time about shows people are watching on Netflix, how addicted people are, and suggestions of what to binge-watch next. If I didn’t see a Netflix tweet at least once a day, maybe I would have figured out something more productive to do with my remaining 128 hours in the week that summer that I was bored enough to watch the entire series of Gossip Girl. But, I hopped on the bandwagon and now all my free time is devoted to Grey’s Anatomy. If I’ve had a long day, I lay in my bed and watch a few episodes to unwind. If I need a study break, Netflix. There have been a couple of Friday nights that I have convinced myself to stay in and catch up on homework, but end up watching 10 episodes instead, because it’s Friday and I have all weekend to catch up on homework. 

People say that phones, the internet, and social media are hindering us from actually living. Those people must not have Netflix accounts, because Netflix trumps all of the other things. I find myself setting my phone down and not picking it up for hours because I’m in an intense part of a show and can’t peel my eyes away. Me, of all people! Netflix is a life-sucker. One minute you’re innocently opening a new tab on your laptop, and suddenly it’s hours later and you’re hooked on a new show. 

I’m in deep, but I have full confidence that I’m just using Netflix as a coping mechanism. This semester has flown by, and finals are right around the corner. It’s depressing, and I use Netflix to forget. It’s not the smartest idea, but I’m hoping that once I finish the semester and have less responsibilities this summer, I won’t need Netflix for the wrong reasons. 

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Everything I Need to Know, I Can Learn From the Internet

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I’m starting to think that television news is becoming less and less relevant.

Don’t get me wrong–I know that a credible news broadcast is probably the most reliable and accurate source of information, besides a newspaper article. During a huge news story, I might be inclined to tune in, but chances are, I wouldn’t have even known about the story if it weren’t for social media.

Once I see a tweet or an article shared on Facebook, I could turn the TV on and look for a news station covering that story. Or, since I’m already on the Internet, I could Google it to look for more details. This brings up the issue of “you can’t always believe everything you read on the Internet” so users must be wary of only reading articles from credible sources. Usually, blurbs sent out from social media will have a link to a credible article to click on for more details. 

For instance, today, I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and saw a strange article that someone had shared. I didn’t even have to read past the title (“Leonardo DiCaprio to play MLK in new movie”) to know that it was a parody article, but some people just don’t have enough internet education to know that the article wasn’t credible. 

But, if CNN tweeted something like, “Missing aircraft found after over a month, click on the following link for details,” I would be able to trust that information without turning the TV on to confirm. Everything that news anchors could be saying on a broadcast is probably on a web story anyways. Often, news anchors will even tell their viewers to look at their website for more details on the story since a news broadcast is under a time restriction. 

My point is that I wouldn’t have been watching the TV to be told to go to the website, in the first place. The only way I would know if a missing aircraft was found is if anyone I followed tweeted or retweeted about it, or if a Facebook friend posted or shared. Then, since it would spark my interest, I would work on finding a credible Internet source to learn more specific details. 

Signs an Internet source may be credible:

  • It is an online version of a newspaper article or broadcasted news story
  • It is a news website that isn’t affiliated with gossip or theories
  • It is has a .com or .org suffix

If you are still unsure if what you are reading is tabloid trash or real news, read this article put out by George Mason University to try to clear things up (the .edu suffix means it is an educational website).

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Learn2Listen

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Although I don’t make it quite as known on this blog, I am an active member of the Delta Zeta sorority on Creighton’s campus. This week is Delta Zeta’s National Learn2Listen week, a week during which Delta Zeta chapters make their involvement and dedication to our national philanthropies a focus. A little background on our national philanthropies:

  • Gallaudet University is located in Washington, D.C. and is the only four-year university in the nation dedicated strictly to the speech and hearing impaired, and all money that Delta Zeta raises goes towards funding for technologies and materials used to meet the needs of the individuals that attend the university.
  • Starkey Hearing Foundation is a large, nonprofit corporation dedicated making and providing hearing aids for those who can’t afford them internationally. Headquarters are in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The Painted Turtle Camp is located in California and is an all-accessible camp for chronically ill children. With an on-site hospital, children who aren’t able to attend summer camp because of their diseases can have a week as a normal child, free of charge.

Since we, as Delta Zeta members, raise a lot of money for hearing impaired, Learn2Listen week is a way for us to try to get our cause more well known to the general public. This year, the Theta Eta chapter at Creighton is trying to use the media to achieve this. We made a video of different DZ sisters doing sign language to the song “Hey Brother” by Avicii and posting it to YouTube so we can share it with friends, family, and members of the Creighton community. Check it out here!!

These national philanthropies are near and dear to the hearts of Delta Zeta, and our chapter has raised over $18,000 for them this year alone. We are so excited to share our passion with the rest of the world via Learn2Listen week!

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College Field Trips are the Best

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I am currently enrolled in a Social Media class at school, and the day my professor announced that we would be meeting at the Nebraska Humane Society thrilled me for reasons I couldn’t explain beyond the fact that I love animals. When I actually attended the field trip, however, I learned more than I thought possible from Elizabeth Hilpipre, a Creighton alum who runs the social media aspect of this private, nonprofit corporation. 

Elizabeth talked primarily about her Facebook and Twitter usage to get animals adopted. I had no idea that social media had so much of an impact on these animals. Of course, I knew someone had to be posting on the Twitter and Facebook pages to try to get the organization more publicity, but many of these animals were finding homes because of the posts! I was overwhelmed.

Elizabeth used a dog named Boomer as an example. Boomer had been in the shelter for a few months and hadn’t been adopted, so she posted his picture with a sign around his neck asking to share this picture and please find him a home. She posted the picture on Facebook at a strategic part of the day (around the time of people’s lunch break when they would most likely be online), and the picture went viral with over 80,000 shares. Boomer was adopted 2 days later. This is a prime example of how learning the ways of the social media world could be used for a fantastic benefit.

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Using analytics to measure how people are reacting to your content is an important way to stay relevant. Elizabeth checks the statistics of the sites often in order to know when to post, what posts people like/dislike, and who her prime audience is. Finding patterns in these statistics seems to be the key to successful social media. As a result, the Facebook page has over 50,000 likes and the Twitter page has over 7,000 followers. Of course, in this day and age, social media is a never ending concept and everyone could strive to have more success, but the Nebraska Humane Society has figured out how to get there. This is something we could all learn from them!

 

A Breakdown of Twitter Conversations

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Last month, Pew Research came out with an article that presented the findings of a study done to map different types of Twitter networks. Smith, Rainie, Shneiderman, and Himelboim characterized different Twitter interactions into six different archetypes:

  • Polarized Crowds
  • Tight Crowds
  • Brand Clusters
  • Community Clusters
  • Broadcast Networks
  • Support Networks

After reading this article, I realized that, although I had never thought of these things before, a lot of these archetypes could be found in my daily Twitter usage. Twitter is a public forum, and although it is considered “micro-blogging” because of character limits, tweets and how they are received and responded to can be a big deal. Out of the people I follow, I have noticed some trends:

Most celebrities I would categorize under the “Brand Cluster” area. A lot of their Twitter activity is one-sided, unless they are having a public conversation with another celebrity. Many famous people get tweeted at almost constantly, but would never take the time out of their day to read or respond to every fan (or hater, because those exist too).

Creighton University, to me, is categorized as a community cluster. The only reason I am receiving so much traffic about it, is because I choose to follow fellow Creighton students as well as Creighton accounts. Let’s be honest, on game days, tweets about the men’s basketball organization make up around 75% of my timeline. But my best friends from home aren’t part of the Creighton community and only see my tweets and retweets about them because they choose to follow me. This community cluster can talk about multiple topics, including Doug McDermott, upcoming Creighton events and news, or our collective hatred for the Wichita State Shockers. The opinions of these subgroups spark conversation, but if someone isn’t in the community and the tweets don’t get a lot of outside traffic, they might not go far outside of the cluster.

These subgroups could be categorized into tight crowds, because not a lot of Creighton people disagree with each other regarding these topics centering around the Creighton community. We are a mainly united front, and since we are a smaller school, we are a pretty tight-knit group.

When these smaller tight crowds, however, disagree with another group, say, Wichita State, a polarized crowd takes place. Creighton students are not tweeting directly at Wichita State students, but we tweet our opinions about them freely, and I’m sure they do the same for us. When the Shockers got knocked out of the tournament just hours before the Jays did, we were all ecstatic because of the rivalry. I wouldn’t expect anything else of the Shockers to feel the same way about us when we lost, but I also didn’t see any online arguing between the two schools. We both have a mutual disrespect and rivalry for each other, but we keep it to ourselves because what’s the point of arguing? No one’s going to change their minds.

Productive Procrastination

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In Alexis Grant’s blog post, she argues that “wasting time” online is actually not wasting time at all.

As someone who is nearly always online doing something, I would have to agree with her.

Like all good things, moderation is key. Sometimes, I get lost in the internet for hours and feel guilty that I didn’t do anything productive. I’m the type of person, though, that procrastinates to no end because I need to feel pressure to complete a task. This “crunch time” is when I am the most productive and focused, because I have to be.

So, before I get to the point where I absolutely have to buckle down and work, I surf the web. I’m always learning something, whether it be what kind of events went on over the weekend, the happenings of my peers, or just happening to stumble across something interesting.

Usually, I’m on the internet for a longer time than I care to admit. But the thing about our world today is that it is constantly updating and changing, and smartphones and computers make keeping up with it so much easier.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my social media of everything I missed when I was sleeping. I also continue to stay connected throughout the day. Is this a waste of time? Arguably. But, when I use it as a tool for procrastination, it can be viewed as a different type of being productive.

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