Extensions of Their Users
The purpose of this book is to understand the nature of social media and the impact they are having on almost all aspects of modern-day existence from family life and social interactions to education and commerce. Just as fish are unaware of the water they swim in and we humans are unaware of the air that we breathe so it is that the users of social media are unaware of the effects of these media and take their existence as a natural part of their environment. The authors make use of Marshall McLuhan’s media ecology approach to understanding media in order to reveal the effects of social media on their users, how they are changing the nature of our social interactions and how we through our interaction with social media have become actual extensions of our social media, the reverse of McLuhan’s notion that media are extensions of mankind.
The authors analyze the major social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tinder, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and blogs as well as examining the Splinternet and the social media scene in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and the Islamic world. Understanding Social Media studies the impacts of social media monopolies, the nature of advertising and branding in social media apps and the social media front in cyberwarfare and concludes with an analysis of the social media counter revolution waged by players who actually helped to create social media.
Chapter Nineteen: Social Media, Branding and Advertising
In this chapter, we identify the emerging trends in social media branding and consider the following questions:
• Why is the brand experience relevant to social media?
• How do brands connect to users through social media?
• How do businesses develop an omnichannel presence by creating social media accounts for their brands and by retaining social media influencers?
• Is our data private or public? What is it being used for? How does user data play a part in targeted advertising?
The users of social media are primarily individuals with personal accounts but a significant other set of social media users are brands, whose use of social media we will explore. To promote their brands, companies have created a multichannel or omnichannel presence on several social media platforms to connect with audiences ←155 | 156→wherever they may be. The presence of brands takes three forms: i. straight advertising; ii. a social media account on behalf of the brand on a particular social media app; iii. the recruitment of social media influencers that endorse the product on their social media sites and hence promote the brand.
We may therefore think of brands as users, just like us individuals. One difference, however, is that companies create business transaction accounts and customer acquisition features that link to external websites (i.e. digital realms outside of the social media platforms themselves) where products or services can be purchased. The major players in social media advertising are...
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