In the last decade we have watched the birth of social media, and are continuing to watch it grow and mature. In times like these, where Trump and Clinton are in a tight race for the U.S. Presidency, The UK has just voted to leave the European Union after 23 years together, and we are facing something reminiscent of the civil rights movement with #BlackLivesMatter…there’s a lot to talk about. Opinions and commentary fly free on the internet and political opinions in particular are abundant. Networks like Twitter are so full of posts, following issues in real time, that it’s not uncommon to see something on Twitter before an official article is written about it. A lot of people find it annoying to open up their Facebook pages to find the opinions of their old high school acquaintance’s neighbour’s sister on their Newsfeed. Others love engaging in a good old fashioned political debate within the comments section of a post. Trump and Hillary themselves are tweeting their way to the White House, using it to stay relevant and connect with their audience. There’s no denying, our social media world is becoming more and more political whether we like it or not.
But is social media really the place for this? For in depth political arguments, hard-to-watch videos and retweeted articles? Is it not designed to be a means of communication with friends and family? A place where we can share selfies and photos of our pets to accumulate the most likes? There was, perhaps, a time when that was its only function, yes; but we have seen social media grow into something so much bigger than it was. It is now involved in almost every aspect of our daily lives, and this includes the news.
The future of news in social media is not to convert everyone into an aspiring politician or topical expert, nor is it to brainwash the masses into reading the same articles being shared again and again over each network. The future is choice. Maybe you’re not so interested in the Brexit vote but you want to know more about the war in the Middle East. Even if you follow the CBC on Twitter, you’ll still have to scroll through a lot of Brexit posts before finding what you’re really looking for.
Lessons for Others
Apple has just released a free app with the iOS 9 update for iPhone entitled News. Upon opening the app, users are given the option to scan through an extensive list of key words, topics, and news sources that peak their interests, to ensure that all the news coming through the app is relevant and of interest to each individual user. It’s described as “beautiful content from the world’s greatest sources, personalized for you” according to the VP of Product Marketing at Apple, Susan Prescott. 1
While not quite a social network yet, there is a lot of potential for News lovers to create their own social network through a medium like this, where debating is welcomed with open arms and discussions can be had among like minded thinkers (or unlike, if that’s what you’re into).
For media outlets this can be great, so they can see the opinions of their readers and track how many readers are interested in which specific topics. From a business perspective this could really help an online news source flourish, or get a small-time reporter off the ground. It’s important to keep the creative mind working and open to new applications of social media at all times, as new ideas are being developed every day. Social media has endless possibilities for the future, but will no doubt continue to shape not only how we do business, but also who we are as individuals, and as a society.
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.