Social Media Con-flunce – interview for a master thesis

The other day I was interviewed by Peter Norris from Brunel University. He studies innovation as his Master, and social media is a big part of innovation today.

The name of the project is Social Media Con-flunce (Con as in concert) the audience he has in mind are teenagers and he is asking questions about about the emotional part of being active on social media. Do you believe big part of our emotional language has moved online?

Here is the interview. It was recorded and part of the interview was transcribed.

Peter Norris: What is in your opinion the importance of emotional connections in social media?

Sofie Sandell: We all come to this world as emotional beings, so of course our emotions online matter. As humans we can show empathy, and that is one thing that we can do online. All brands that do marketing we like are connecting with our emotions. Smart brands that want their followers to share their message are making sure their audience is involved emotionally. And that is also what we are doing with our friends online, we show that we care and that we want to stay connected.

Peter Norris: Where do you think teenagers would prefer to share their emotional content? Private vs public social media.

Sofie Sandell: Now everyone is much more aware about social media compared with just a few years ago. And more parents are also more aware about the risks. I’ve interviewed some teenagers and they all preferred their private networks where they could be real, have fun and make jokes that everyone in the group understood. Most of them used text messaging groups such as WhatsApps and iMessage.  Many teens are also connecting with their network by playing social games online.

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Peter Norris: In the era of internet, digital communication, technology and distance connections, how do you perceive the current evolution of social media? Are they in step with the time or are they lacking proper innovation and exploitation of the technologies and opportunities currently available?

Sofie Sandell: We are going towards more mobile solutions, what’s stopping us fully is bad hardware and bad battery time. New Apps will be developed.

We are connected through airports, we have train systems, here in London we love the tube when it’s working. When any of these networks that are connecting us are not working it drives us crazy. It’s the same with social media, a network that work well need to be maintained by it’s owner and it’s users – they must work together. It’s a very natural thing to do for to connect, that’s what has been driving change in the world.

How we love and value our social media networks will depend on the connections you have. Companies online that give their audience a bad experience are loosing out. To navigate and find information you must have a great information architecture that helps your clients. Not stopping them.

Peter Norris: Does the digitalization of emotions and connections represent an opportunity or a threat in your opinion?

Sofie Sandell: I think it’s both good and bad. You can deepen many relationships by using technology. One threat is that your ability to write ‘properly’ might be lost. Depending on who you are communicating with you need to change your language and expressions. Many people also use emojis very well and that helps when you are communicating emotions online.

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Most people have between 5-10 good friends and they will use all possible ways to connect with them, chat, text, Facebook, email, phone and meet up in real life. Then we might have a large group of people around us who are important for us, but we are not seeking contact that often. Participating in social media with them will make it easier to connect next time you meet.

Peter Norris: Social media is a channel for cyber-bullying — what’s your thoughts?

Sofie Sandell: The social media platforms can set up better system to track harassment in their network, it should be easier to report any issue to them and they should do more about it. By being active on only private closed network it helps to prevent horrible comments and content in some sense.

In Sweden there was a TV programme called Troll Hunters and they were tracking down some of the worst cyber bullies and confronted them – so it’s possible to do that. Also we must change the law around the internet, I believe all countries laws are too far behind here. Sometimes it feels like the internet is a country itself, maybe we should have global rules?

Peter Norris: What emerging technologies could represent a key factor in social media innovation?

Sofie Sandell: I think a lot will happen, we are just in the beginning of the social media era. The way we are exchanging information will change a lot in the future. I believe it will be more important to make social media feel easy and accessible, some networks tend to look messier and messier – I think we are trying to get away from that.

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All wearable technology such as Google Glasses will change how we behave online. And more people will probably film and share what they see live with their friends.

Sofie Sandel interview with Peter Norris