What’s next for communications?

This week was our second to last Intro to Digital Communication class – I can hardly believe is already almost over! Over the last 10 weeks, we discussed digital convergence, public relations, advertising in the digital age, and much more. All of us talked about what we thought was the most interesting thing we learned in this class, and I must say we have a smart group!

I originally said in the class that digital convergence was the most interesting to me – mainly because we don’t really think about how technology has changed how we communicate, we just take it as it comes. However, one thing that interested me the most was the topic of “Big Data.” I talked about Big Data in a previous post, but I really think it is so captivating how it continues to advance.

It’s a little mind-blowing to think about how much digital communication has evolved over time, and how much of our personal life is out in the digital space. Our interests, thoughts, inquiries, etc. are all out there for the Internet to analyze and break down to assist organizations in targeting their consumers; thus, leading to more customization when we search the web. We continue to see advertisements for things we are interested in show up on our Facebook page or Pandora playlist, but where will they go next? We see how they play out in the current digital space, but with continuing changes, it makes you wonder what other types of data they can collect from us and how it’ll be used.

All of the changes over the years really makes you wonder – what else will be different in the future? We’ve seen many technologies played out in movies come to life, such as robots or self-driving cars, but what’s next? I’d love to hear what you think!

I’m sad to see this class is almost over, but very thankful for all I’ve learned. It has reminded me that I have taken on the right field for work!

 

 

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Advertising in a Digital World

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class we discussed how digital growth has most dramatically changed in the advertising industry. Advertisements have become more diverse as we continue to see changes in technology. Below are a couple examples of what we talked about in class.

  • Ads in Facebook videos. Facebook showing advertisements in their videos is now similar to how we see many videos on YouTube. Since Facebook always looks to be the most dominant social network out there, they continue to add features and limits to specific parts of the site – in this case, video. Facebook won’t allow you to share a YouTube video on their page and have it auto-play, mainly due to the fact that they want you to upload your video to their site (it shows up as a thumbnail when shared from YouTube. This also allows them to places ads in the video and make money that way. Users typically have to watch some or most of an ad before watching a video – a new, kind of forced, way of advertising. Facebook is also encouraging video advertisements for your business – read more here.
  • Snapchat geofilters. Snapchat geofilters (see samples below) are one of the more diverse out of the most recent digital advertisements created. Snapping a video or photo and then swiping left allows you to choose filters based on your location or a campaign that is going on. For example, as you can see below, most cities now have filters for you to use when you send your snaps to others – which, in turn, promotes the city. Many companies use this technique to spread awareness of their brand, campaign, or event. One example that comes to mind is the show Scream Queens. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV, but when the pilot show was about to come out, a Snapchat filter was created to promote the show. The geofilters usually are unique and entertaining, which leads to “snapchatters” to use the filter – without always realizing they’re helping promote a brand, campaign, or event.

snapchat geofilyersPhoto source: snapchat.com/geofilters

Other advertisements we see today include podcast ads, social influencers, personalized ads tailored to our Internet activity, and much more. All of these have impacted the advertising industry greatly – making it harder to keep up with all the different platforms to use, but also making it easier to reach the target audience. It’s funny to think about how radio, print, and TV were the most popular way to advertise – now there are almost too many!

Can Big Data Prevent Fake News?

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communication class, we discussed “Big Data” and how it influences what we do in our daily lives. According to SAS Institute Inc., “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

The bold part of the definition is important to consumers because it changes our buying experience. For example (a favorite example mentioned in class), if I am booking a flight on Expedia and it says “20 people are looking at this flight right now” or “2 spots left on this flight” – typically I would purchase the flight quickly so I don’t lose my spot. But, this is just marketing. Big Data is helping Expedia and other companies create tactics like the ones stated above to make consumers spend money.

Big Data changes how we shop, travel, eat and even how we interpret news stories. While their are tools to fight against fake news, sometimes it relies on the user to determine the validity of a story.

“The problem is that users are generally disinclined to take the extra effort to check. Even going to a website, tool, or app to verify a story before sharing it is more effort than most people will take,” Bernard Marr said in his Fake News: How Big Data And AI Can Help article. “Until big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled tools become more sophisticated and reliable, we need to focus on educating people (starting as early as primary school) to be critical thinkers and not take every story at face value.”

While the above article mentions the tools that are helping fix this void of sharing or reporting fake news, I agree that the problem does rely on the user. We talked a couple weeks ago in our class about how the Internet has changed how we read, write, speak and listen – all of which definitely apply to social media. Our attention span is short; we want to read something short and know the point behind it immediately.

Many people don’t open an article before reading it – they just assume it is true. I believe this is how fake news is spread. Users see a headline of an article that sparks their interest, they share it, it keeps circulating, and before we know it – it’s everywhere (and it is fake). Most articles like this would be reported as “fake” if the users simply read it before sharing. I see this happen a lot on my personal feed.

Unless we educate users from the very beginning to be critical thinkers, will fake news ever stop being shared? Will users read more than just the headline? To that end, can Big Data really prevent fake news? I’m interested in your thoughts – leave your comments below!

P.S. Here is some other news about Big Data:

How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!