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We’re proud of our social media internship at Everywhere. Every semester, two to three interns are chosen to work in our offices and gain experience in our arena. We ask each intern to submit a blog post as part of their training. The following blog post was penned by GSU student, Alair Hallman.

 

Each week Facebook users share more than 3.5 billion pieces of content (Digital Buzz blog). Who could have predicted the relevance of social media in today’s society? Arguably not Zuckerberg, Anderson and Dorsey, all celebrated social media innovators in their own rights. Social media has infiltrated every home and, in a sense, infected every human being. Step into a major board meeting, how many heads are down? Step inside a classroom, how many faces do you see glowing with the dim blue light shine from each student’s device of choice?

From journalism to television shows, social media has transformed how people tune into different fields of media.

Rather than tune into a favorite news radio or television station, consumers get the news instantly on their smart phones or laptops in real time — and can even contribute to the news cycle as citizen journalists.

In an article titled “Starting a Revolution,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone states, “Twitter purposefully allows everyone access, because information — both good and bad — should be allowed to flow freely [….] This idea that the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact is being proven over and over again around the world nearly on a daily basis.” (NPR 2011)

Twitter and other social media has transformed newsgathering and reporting, drastically changing the way in which telecommunication professionals and their audience operate. There are numerous examples of how social media has impacted news reporting. One fairly recent example includes the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. ABC News’ Olivia Katrandjian reports, “As has become the norm of such protests, this movement has been fueled by social media fire, with supporters taking to Twitter under the hashtag #occupywallstreet. The major hacking group Anonymous has also thrown in its support, live streaming the day’s events,” (ABC News).

The tweet that broke Osama bin Laden’s death also serves as an epic example of Twitter transforming breaking news — from Sohaib Athar, a.k.a. @ReallyVirtual  inadvertently live-tweeting the raid in which bin Laden was killed to Keith Urban (@keithurban), chief of staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose tweet arguably broke the news of bin Laden’s death.

Social media has also greatly impacted television content. Programs have drastically changed to engage viewers, from GetGlue check-ins and badges to including tweets, hashtags, Facebook mentions. Just this past year, HBO launched the beginnings of a socially-driven experience to watching their programs, backed by project champion and the director of marketing and social media at HBO, Sabrina Caluori. HBO Connect, appropriately titled, aims for a more integrated connection with viewers through “Pulse, Feeds, Conversations, Visualizes, and Connections,”  (Mashable).

I even caught an episode of the beloved animated series The Simpsons where Marge inspires Bart and Lisa to become foodies and start a food blog. I was tickled by this particular example — a show I grew up watching has become so current on their content, particularly when compared to those episodes debuting in 1989.

Does social media strengthen or strain relationships, particularly with the media? Let’s put this in perspective… What’s the next best thing to seeing Ann Curry’s smiling face NBC’s Today Show? How about getting the behind-the-scenes, inside scoop in her own voice and the ability to interact with her off-camera on Twitter @anncurry?

One study examining relationships between the audience and TV newscasters found that of those surveyed, more than half agreed that the newscasters are almost like friends you see every day (Dominick, Joseph, The Dynamics of Mass Communication, 2011). Not only do you have people who are genuinely interested in the news, but you also have a new audience who follow specifically because of the para-social relationships with news providers. This is true not only with legitimate news outlets, such as CNN, but also with bloggers, celebrities and anyone else providing newsworthy information.

Social media has expanded the way we interact with each other by breaking boundaries to create relationships. According to recent research, roughly two-thirds of social-media users say their major reason for using social media is to stay in touch with current friends and family members, while half say connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use (PEW Research via Digital Buzz Blog). Even if we never come to a solid conclusion on social media’s effect on relationships, one thing still remains — social media is everywhere. More than that, it’s changing every day.

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