Digital Revolution

New technology and social media

The social media revolution

The Internet has been public for almost 20 years now and it has drastically transformed the media landscape. A few years ago, Clay Shirky who studies the effect of the Internet on society gave a conference about how social media could make history.

According to him, four technological innovations have led to change media in a revolutionary way in the last 500 years. Starting in mid-1400s, the first one was the printing press with movable types, oil-based inks and a combination of innovations that made printing possible in Europe. A couple of hundred years ago came two-way communication and conversational media through slow, text-based conservations with the telegraph then real-time voice conversations with the telephone. About 150 years ago, a revolution happened in recorded media with photos, recorded sound, movies, all encoded onto physical objects. Finally, about 100 years ago, came radio and television thanks to electromagnetic spectrum.

All these breakthrough contributed to make the media landscape in the 20th century. The thing is, these media created asymmetry. Printed press or television address to groups by delivering the same message to everybody in the group, they cannot create conversations whereas telephone can create conversations but only between two people and not between groups.

This asymmetry has been resolved since the Internet was opened to the public. The Internet is the first medium that supports groups (people, consumers, companies, organizations) and conversations at the same time. This is one of the features of the digital revolution : the Internet gives us the many-to-many pattern whereas the phone follows the one-to-one pattern, radio and books follow the one-to-many pattern.

The second feature is that the Internet now supports all other media : all media gets digitized and migrate to the Internet. Media is now more than just a source of information, it is a place of coordination : groups such as political parties, record company, social network users can now interact and discuss on diverse digital platforms.

The last big feature is that every single consumer on the Internet is also a producer. The reason for this is that the equipment allowing people to access media content, also allow them to produce content. When you comment a YouTube video or an article, you create content and you take part in the conversation. Users are increasingly taking ownership of medias through the Internet.

Shirky illustrates this phenomena with the example of China which is one of the most successful Internet censor in the world thanks to the «Great Firewall of China». This firewall works on a combination of assumptions that media is produced by professionals, is scarce, slow and comes from abroad. But now, amateur media are taking such huge proportions that Chinese government is no longer able to filter it. Web content is now produced by local amateurs in a fast and abundant way. This is why they decided to shut down Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to the Internet, media is now global, social, ubiquitous and cheap. When an organization wanted to send a message to a specific audience, their audience can respond them. These targeted individuals are also connected so they can discuss with each other. Because the audience is actively taking part in medias, media is not anymore about sending messages for groups to consume but more about creating a platform to support groups and discussions among them.

Sport and social media

These observation are based on an article written by Mya Pronschinske, Mark Groza and Matthew Walker (Attracting Facebook “fans”: The Importance of Authenticity and Engagement as a Social Networking Strategy for Professional Sport Teams – 2012). It explores the relationship between the users a Facebook and sport team’s Facebook pages.

Facebook growth was exponential during the 00’s and it still is nowadays. Sports teams saw here an opportunity to extend and repositioning their marketing efforts. They identified here a new and potential effective way to create new and expand existing relational bonds.

Indeed through the social network sites (SNS) user can go further: interact directly with the teams by friending, liking, commenting, etc. All that for a low cost, with an easy targeting work, and an easy distribution of the information. To build this SNS strategy teams need to choose a way and how they will do that.

We can identify five factors:

  • Authenticity
  • Disclosure
  • Engagement
  • Dissemination
  • Controls

A study made research about the influence of the four first factors. The hypotheses were that all this factors will positively influence the number of fans on a Facebook page. For this studies different methods were used: sample, data collection, variable coding, use of econometric model.

The first observation was that people are more likely to follow successful organizations. Then considering the four factors the results were that Engagement and authenticity have a significant influence on the number of Facebook fans, whereas disclosure and information have not a relevant impact.

However, this study must be taken carefully considering the fact that it was only based on one SNS, Facebook, and that this website was evolving during the study and the change were not taken in consideration.

This artcile was pointing out a really important thing that I think most people are not aware to: a Facebook page is not easy to manage. A lot of companies, including sports organization, think that they just have to create a page and it will go well by itself just by posting some things on it. As it is say in this article to have an effective page you have to take care and create a real social media plan. And that there are a lot a factors that you have to take in considerations.

New technology allow all organizations, including sports ones, to communicate easier because people tend to think that with these technologies the communication is going on by itself. The sports fields is one of the many examples where there are lot more factors to consider.

I would like to develop an another idea about new technology in "extreme sports". In fact these sports like : FMX (fresstyle Motocross) Freestyle skiing and snowboarding, or even wingsuit become more and more famous thanks to new technology and social media. We can take two famous brand who put the lights on these sports : Redbull and Gopro. Actually these two brands developp actively extreme sport in two points which strongly works together :

  • Social media (Redbull)
  • New technology (Gopro)

Since the firts gopro camera product we can see on facebook a lots of people showing their "exploits" and push the sport increasingly far like previous week where we saw the first Triple Backflip with a motocross. Everyone wants to imitate their idols by buying the same product, try the same tricks ... These exemple to show that new technology in our society have a strong impact on sports nowdays and participate in the progression of the sport and also participate in the discovery of new talents.