The Digital Buzz posted an infographic in January about what certain trending topics say about the things that we find important. For example, if we based importance off of how many times an event is tweeted, Beyonce’s pregnancy is more important to society than Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.
Maybe I’m just an idealist, but for some reason I just refuse to believe that the topics we tweet are the ones we find important. Yes, I understand and agree with the logic that we talk about the things that are important to us, but sometimes I feel like people look at social media as a guilty pleasure as opposed to a method of communication. It’s no coincidence that we joke about Facebook and Twitter being addicting… just like that ridiculous song by Justin Beiber.
My latest posts on Facebook include college football, a Hoodie Allen concert, and how much fun I had on Friday night. Does that mean I care more about football than politics? Hoodie Allen than the Curiosity rover? No. Definitely not.
One of the examples in this infographic was that the Charlie Sheen drama recieved more Facebook “likes” than the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. It pointed out that #tigersblood was one of the top Twitter hashtags of the year. I have a few theories about why this may be…
When in doubt, blame agenda setting. I haven’t learned a ton about agenda setting in my classes but the basic idea is that people pay attention to the stories that the media tells them about. Wouldn’t knowing that your peers have common knowledge about a topic have the same effect? What if it has something to do with acceptance? I know that many of my peers watch Teen Mom therefore I may be more likely to refer to it in a tweet.
Take politics, although there are plenty of political posts on social media, there’s also a ton of people negatively receiving these posts. Personally, I don’t feel like posting something that controversial on my wall. I don’t want people to get annoyed with me because I support so-and-so, and posting something neutrally factual will always be perceived as biased as well. Even non-election events, such as the Chicago teachers strike is a result of differing opinions. If Facebook is my guilty pleasure escape than I don’t want to be entertaining conflicts while online.
Finally, I think people have a tendency to want to entertain on social media sites. When it comes to Charlie Sheen, everything is a joke. I’ve even used #winning in a tweet or two. Beyonce being pregnant can even be a joke. But Senator Giffords being shot is terrifying and saddening. Tweeting your condolences is one thing, but it won’t end up entertaining and it will probably be the only thing I would post on the matter.
I’m not saying that tracking social media isn’t a useful tool in determining the effectiveness of your communication, just that we need to remember the situational etiquette required for the medium. Knowing your audience gets more complicated when your audience has an audience…