Social Media: Impact and Usage (Book Review)

                As internet technology has grown from slow and cumbersome personal desktops to hand-held hi-speed mobile devices, so has the ability that people have to communicate with one another.  There have been many books that break-down “how to” market to consumers using social media outlets, however there are few books that dissect what social media really is and how the medium has affected the lives, politics, and ethics. The following paper is a review of a compilation of articles that tackles these topics in the book by Hanna S. Noor Al-Deen and James Allen Hendricks titled Social Media: Usage and Impact.  This paper will review the five main sections of the book: social media and networking, social media and education, social media and strategic communication, social media and politics, and social media and ethical issues as it pertains to the prevailing theme presented by the authors as how it affects those in post-secondary education.

            The book opens the first section “Social media and networking” with an article titled Facebook: and how college students work it. The reason that the authors open with this article is show how Facebook went from an exclusive college student used site to the largest social media site on the planet with over 500 million users.  The authors wanted to set a tone and place this editorial first by letting the reader know that social media sites are not exclusive and that each segment or demographical user has different uses and needs for a social media outlets, as well as letting the reader know that many users try to find a sense of acceptance and what a better place than in college. The article was written by Lynn M. Webb et. al. and the authors of the article spend most of the paper using statistical data to tie in to social media theories of usage and impact.   

             Facebook is put into five categories; which could be used to break down most internet social media sites: gender and sex, relation goals, anonymity, connectedness, and engagement. The purpose was to define how each topic relates to why a user does what a user does. This article was a fascinating start as it left the reader wanting to investigate further about how professionals perceive each user and how the reader is categorized by these professionals. Once the authors pass through several other articles that help solidify how internet based social media has affected human networking they logically travel to the next topic of “Social media and education”.

            In section II” Social media and education” and section 3  “Social media and strategic communication”  the authors follow a logical progression by using articles that discuss how social media technologies affect the classroom and how marketers can use information to reach out to college students.  Noor Al-Deen and Hendricks provide the reader with seven articles that debate the use of social media mediums and how they can be positive as well as a negative impact in college. As educators attempt to use these new tools, students are finding interesting ways to communicate while in the classroom, while marketers can reach these college students in the classroom and beyond.

With the use of Twitter, Facebook, texting, and other social media outlets that can be used with laptops and/or handhelds the traditional classroom has taken on a new organic form. Not only can educators’ positively reach out to students in more ways by using social media, the students can now reach one another just as readily causing a learning distraction or negative impact through chatting or supplying others with test answers. Bottom-line; the premise of section II is that educators have new tools at their disposal to increase the educational experience, yet so do the students. Finding a policy that maintains the integrity of the classroom while leveraging social media in the teaching space is a delicate balance that each institution needs explore and implement.

In section III the authors published three articles in their book that pertain to college students and how they cannot escape the reach of marketers. Of the three articles, the one that should appeal to most of the readers was an article that wrote about the top 100 global brands and what these brands are doing to ensure that college students know who these brands are and how to target market the students. The article provides a wealth of data that leaves the reader wondering how free are we really, and do I make any of my own choices? This article is a perfect Segway to section IV “Social media and politics” as the reader is coming to grips with the aforementioned questions and then realizes how social media impacts our judgments as it pertains to politics.

Section IV “Social media and politics” dissects the use of social media and its effects on the Millennial Generation, youth activism, and the black youths during the 2008 presidential election.   The main theme follows how college students and the youth of tomorrow are impacted by professional political marketers and the influence they have on the selection of political candidates. The most interesting article of this section was the article about black youths during the 2008 presidential election. This was an eye opening article that discussed the web-based participation gap that black youths had as opposed to white youths. The article was insightful and concerned with how this gap would be lessened with time and how it came to be. As more black youths enter post-secondary education the gap will continue to lessen, however we still live in a society with many socioeconomic holes that can be traced back to ethnicity. The authors did a fine job increasing the scope of their book’s compilation and once again tackled a topic that was more concerned with the impact of technology rather than the “how to” for marketers.  This article completed section IV and provided the introduction to section V as the reader is led to the ethical challenges of social media.

Section V ties the entire book into one section as the reader has been led from section to section delving into the usages and impacts of social media in today’s world. Each topic touches on but does not fully discuss the ethical implications of social media. The last article of Social media: Impact and usage enters a more in-depth conversation titled Tweets, blogs, facebook, and the ethics of the 21st-century.  As we all have seen no one can escape the implications of improper use of social media and the implications it can have on someone’s career or social standing in society. This article really hits home and ties a person’s belief system with that of the general public and how we can be viewed with one poor judgment or comment.

The authors Noor Al-Deen and Hendricks did an outstanding job bringing together a collection of articles that by themselves would only offer one portion of a greater discussion. The book Social media: Impact and usage is wonderfully written. It covers the ever growing social media industry with well thought out and statistically based articles that bring together the impact on today’s youth and how these mediums will be used in the future. The book is a valuable read for a student in post-secondary education. The self-introspection and wealth of information provided by authors’ selection of articles will provide an insightful look of how people are viewed and demographically segmented for the marketers that monitor social media outlets.   

Reference

Noor Al-Deen, S.A. & Hendricks, J.A. (2012). Social media: Usage and impact. (Ed.)Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books.

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