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!

 

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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.

To Creep, or not to Creep?

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That is the question.

As a college student who has grown up in the technological age, I consider myself to be pretty social media savvy. Most of my free time is devoted to catching up on the day’s events via Facebook and Twitter. I have all the necessary applications on my iPhone, and I stay connected practically every waking moment of my day.

Going through those day-to-day motions seems pretty normal for people my age, but after typing out that last paragraph, it seems pretty absurd. Why do I need to always be online and checking up with my peers and the people I follow? The answer: I am “creepy.”

Anyone reading this is probably pretty creepy, too. As social media sites have developed and more people are on them, the definition of a creep has changed. The top definition for “creeping” listed on http://www.dictionary.com is as follows:

creep·ing

[kree-ping]  Show IPA

noun

1.

Slang. the act or practice of following someone persistently or stealthily, especially online: Twitter andLinkedIn creeping is a normal part of my day.
Is creeping bad? Some say it is. But I’m going to go ahead and be the first one to admit that I love creeping on people. Ever since high school, I have been proficient in the art of problem solving and detective work using social media to find out what I want to know about my peers. Things like who tagged them in pictures, where they are, and who they are with are very effective ways to learn about people on Facebook. On Twitter, looking at who a person follows/who follows that person along with who they tweet at is helpful information.
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I like to think of all of this as being connected, but when it comes down to the wire, we are all just curious, nosey, creepy individuals who want to know about other people’s lives. And I love it.