Social Media: Commentary, Extrapolation and Development of a Mediated Communication Analysis Model

By Laing, Kathryn Rebecca; Khattab, Umi | E - Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business, July 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Social Media: Commentary, Extrapolation and Development of a Mediated Communication Analysis Model


Laing, Kathryn Rebecca, Khattab, Umi, E - Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business


Introduction

Over the last two decades, new and emerging forms of media technology have rapidly altered the face of communication with a growing reliance on electronic interaction, particularly the use of social media. In this age of globalisation and transnationalism, driven by Internet and mobile technology, we are witnessing significant changes in relationships, transactions and identities of individuals and public entities, in ways that may have been envisioned or imagined but were not possible till now. Communication has always been at the centre of the public sphere, or the public sphere itself, but today, the forms of interaction, whether business or personal, have been transformed with the speed of technological revolution. As such, there is rising recognition of the role of emerging (social) media on politics, business and everyday life.

As face-to-face communication and technology merge, the influence of these interactive forms of communication is forever changing how we describe and evaluate what is real or believable, in effect, how to ascertain 'real life'. For example, responding to good news with a 'like' or announcing a relationship by declaring it official on Facebook. This demonstrates how the language of digital interaction (social media) is being applied to what would otherwise have been a face-to-face encounter (Edwards, Edwards, Wahl & Myers, 2013). Even in this area, social media is rapidly evolving, with no defined future direction (Kohli, Suri & Kapoor, 2015). Definitions of social media can result in identifying a list of social tools such as Facebook and Twitter and how they are digital technologies with user-generated content and interaction (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Howard and Park (2012: 362) define social media as:

(a) The information infrastructure and tools used to produce and distribute content; (b) the content that takes the digital form of personal messages, news, ideas, and cultural products; and

(b) the people, organisations, and industries that produce and consume digital content.

An alternative definition of social media that encompasses a broader perspective yet offers a simple overview is provided by Kent (2010: 645):

"...any interactive communication channel that allows for two-way interaction and feedback [with]... the potential for real-time interaction, reduced anonymity, a sense of propinquity, short response times, and the ability to 'time shift,' or to engage in the social network whenever suits each particular member".

The use and indeed the impact that social media can have is evident in the way in which it was used by two United States Presidential candidates. Barack Obama is credited with having used Facebook to his advantage in order to gain support and vital votes that saw him win the Presidential election (Mangold & Faulds, 2009). In a similar way Donald Trump used social media to reach out to voters in his campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Social media may have contributed in no small way to his winning of what many saw as an unwinnable campaign (Oates & Moe, 2016). The importance of communication cannot be emphasised more and the following sections provide a brief history of the development of communication and its significant role in society.

Apart from describing a mere conversation between people in non-mediated form, communication, especially mediated communication, has a long and somewhat dark history. The concept of communication has been a key concern in the fields of marketing, communication studies, journalism and public relations, and the use and abuse of mediated forms of communication in politics and business has often raised concerns about its manipulative and propagandistic power.

Over the past twenty years the use of social media has been widely researched as the rise of sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, transformed the face of social interactions and impacted the communication practices of business and politics. …

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