In my next three blogs, I’ll focus on the current and future state of social media, especially its connection to marketing, public relations, and society. I hope to shed some wisdom on the subject from my perspective as a professional in the media and non-profit industries, while referencing our class readings.
In the wake of the recent Parkland school shooting, social media has been used as a critical tool by all sides to politicize and capitalize on the event. However, it is the youth who have been outmaneuvering and outdoing their adult counterparts on social media during this movement.
For example, when Donald Trump, Jr. “liked” two news article that pushed the notion that a few vocal Parkland students were hired actors, one of the students reached out to Melania Trump – who has a White House initiative to stop cyber-bullying – to ask:
A “like” on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. can have a enormous effect because he has over 2 million followers, who will inevitably perpetuate the false news. The result of the youth strategically, and naturally, pushing back through social media has resulted in Melania Trump supporting the youth and a recent meeting with one of the Parkland survivors.
This is a good example of the effectiveness of social media as a public relations and social engagement tool. But on the other side of the coin is the equally adept, but terrifying, use of social media to motivate and activate the Parkland school shooter, as well as others who have come before him. (I’m intentionally omitting the Parkland shooter’s name as to not bring him more attention, which was part of his motivation.) The Parkland school shooter and others have used social media to promote their twisted agenda, to learn how to kill effectively and efficiently, and to gain support for their actions.
So is social media bullshit?
I feel that B. J. Mendelson’s book “Social Media is Bullshit” is a misleading title. It’s not that social media is bullshit, it’s that certain individuals are bullshit and they use tools to further their horrible agendas. The book’s author, B. J. Mendelson, asserts, “All marketers, professional or amateur, are full of crap.” This statement and too many others in his book are expressed absolutes and hyperbolical.
I’ve been working in the media industry for the past 20 years and the non-profit industry for nearly the past 10 years. Since my background and experiences are more rooted in traditional media (Film, TV, radio, print, etc.), I can see the evolution from previous forms of media to today’s, with the evolution of technology.
Similar to the past, it’s not that media, or even social media, is “bullshit”. Media is simply a tool. As with all tools, it can be used for good and it can also be used for bad. Take a hammer for instance. A hammer is a useful tool when building something. However, in the wrong hands, it could also be used as a weapon to kill someone. Again, the same instrument is merely a tool.