Instant Global Communication
My first year of college I felt lost and didn’t know what I wanted to study. After reading Bill Gates’ “Business @ The Speed of Thought” I instantly knew I wanted to get involved in technological innovation. Gates predicted many innovative technologies in this early 2000’s novel including ride sharing, experience sharing, and the rise of social media.
It seems like most people in class are interested in social media due to the activity on other posts on this topic, so I’ll elaborate a bit more on one of Gates’ thoughts on the positive and negative aspects of social media. In today’s age of rapid mass-communication, both fans as well as critics can quickly and easily spread their opinions to a potentially unlimited number of people. This is a double-edged sword for brands. The existence of social networks has given rise to limitless marketing opportunities, yet also presents the risk of creating serious crisis situations. Consider the phenomenon of virality, where something spreads quickly and ubiquitously across social networks and the internet. Virality can be either positive or negative, and making companies or campaigns go viral in a positive sense can be groundbreaking for their growth and image. If something goes viral for negative reasons, however, a critical and tricky public relations crisis arises. It can be nearly impossible to stop a negative viral message from spreading across the internet, reaching millions of people, and tarnishing the creators reputation. Because of this, companies need to be cautious about the content they produce and the way they project it to the world.
In today’s context, consider the Pepsi advertisement with Kendall Jenner that ran in 2017. Many people found it to be tasteless and offensive, and this caused a viral outcry across the internet against Pepsi. On the other side of things, positive virality can make creators become a household name. Consider the case of the ALSA (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association) “Ice Bucket Challenge” which Gates participated in himself. If you aren’t familiar with this, do a quick Google search and you will see just how widespread the ice-bucket challenge became. The campaign went completely viral and ended up raising $220 million for ALS organizations worldwide.
Is this instant access to the global populations thoughts and feelings a marvel of modern technology or a wild west network capable of granting power to those with malicious intentions?