Making sense of social media through diversity

Market roadmaps describe key market component of specific innovation trends combining posts and tweets shared on WAI social networks.

From readers to information providers, social media is interlinking global opinions and specific facts into a complex conversation questioning users’ ability to make sense of increasing amounts of data both as citizens and customers. The uniformity of ideas shared among closed communities require to add further diversity in our thinking frameworks, with the potential benefit of creating human links between communities jointly driving change. This diversity of thoughts should be combined to human values as opposed to business and commercial objectives to build knowledge communities able to influence entire ecosystems. As a result of this relentless search for sense, the digital disruption has direct effects on the information value chain and related business models, further emphasizing the need for a responsible and intelligent approach to social media.

Diversity of thoughts to build common sense


Following the recent publication of several academic and scientific studies on the influence of social media on democracy and society, experts and analysts have expressed their view of root causes generating discrepancies between virtually shared information and their consequences in the real world. As questions are generally directed towards algorithms and brands behind them, experts remind the reader’s analytic and critic mind importance to offset any uniformity effect implied by newsfeed users are exposed to. 

“The authors conclude that the primary driver of the digital echo chamber is the actions of users—who we connect with online and which stories we click on— rather than the choices the newsfeed algorithm makes on our behalf.”

Read more:Blame the Echo Chamber on Facebook. But Blame Yourself, Too.”, Kartik Hosanagar, WIRED

To develop a sharper analytic and critic reasoning, users should be able to access diversified information and sources. From a strategic view point, experts estimate such diversification is an essential step for algorithms. They also imply such diversity should act as an external influence, hence linking back to previous experts’ points: diversity as a reading practice to increase the meaningfulness of information on social networks.

“It would be easy to impose such a diversification principle to social media algorithm. It may even be essential. Indeed, in any dynamic system, transition states can become permanent under external forces pressure. In the same way, citizens can take demagogic solutions for granted which, instead for gradually appearing them for what they are, are made credible by a constant and non critic recurrence on social networks.”

Lire plus: “Des algorithmes dangereux pour le débat démocratique“, Guillaume Chevillon, Libération

One of the benefits of making sense of online information sharing lays in the opportunity to support actions towards commonly desired goals. By embracing a wider diversity of ideas, communities are able to build more intelligent plans which take into account individually expressed needs and priorities. This trend supports the rise of crowd driven initiatives, as innovation experts highlight.

“This tapping in and building on the diversity of thinking gives huge potential to solving so many different issues and challenges, for those willing to put in the organising commitment and who want to seek out the hidden value that lies within the crowd, in break-through ways.”

Read more: “Moving the crowd in a new direction“, Paul Hobcraft, Innovation Excellence

Entrepreneurs have identified the potential market opportunities of partnering with the crowd. From discovery to human connections, they focus developments around human values and needs that support a platform. Knowledge and creativity find a central place in new platform definitions, triggering additional growth levers that adapt to user needs. 

” More options are being developed by the business owner, as for example, the possibility of downloading tracks previously recorded on other platforms than Melloplot. The objective remains the same: “motivating subscribers to create a trusted area which will help them overcome their musical shyness when they meet for the first time.” 

Lire plus: “A 25 ans, elle crée le Tinder de la musique pour connecter les musiciens entre eux“, Laura Charmeil, We Demain

From a high level perspective, the social findings and business advances brought by social media do question the robustness and sense of common values. The risks implied by uniformity of thoughts and reduced ability to make sense of information may be balanced by the creativity and business potential the use of such platforms generate. Nevertheless, social media as a technology seems to require a deeper analysis of the systemic impact it creates.

“A better way to think about these developments is that businesses—led by the Googles and Facebooks of the world—are still trying to figure this space out. The opportunities and barriers—whether technological, regulatory, or behavioral—will become clearer over time.”

Read more: “Banks may soon our Facebook Friends to assess our creditworthiness. Should we worry?“, Brian Uzzi, Kellogg Insight

Define your own value in a complex and globalized innovation system thanks to our management report on diversity.

Can we crowdsource the truth?


Another identified impact of social media on society shows in the reduced ability of the crowd to incubate information deviated from a growing volume of data. The marketing side of stories tends to limit readers’ ability to reason outside commercial and business thinking frameworks. Experts therefore wonder if business values have replaced logical values. As a result, trends such as “scienceploitation” and lack of civility invade information sharing, contributing to misinformed and polarized debates.

“The Stanford researchers found that high-quality design, links to traditional news organizations, and well-written “About” pages were able to convince many of the students that a site was credible, regardless of what the actual news content was that appeared on the site.”

Read more:Stanford Study: Most students can’t tell the difference between fake and real news“, Matthew Ingram, Venture Beat

“Beyond misinformation, hype, and other forms of scienceploitation on social media, there is at least one other serious threat to the effective communication of science online: the lack of civility in online and social media forums.”

Read more: “How social media can distort and misinform when communicating science“, Jakob Groshek and Serena Bronda, The Conversation

Experts agree on the negative effects social media drive on global information and therefore intelligence. On the other hand, entrepreneurs and influencers are able to connect to a vast variety of new customers, generating new business models and gaining access to personalized needs and interactions. In return, social media are able to attract more users and subscribers by sharing individual stories which entire communities can engage with.

““Twitter has helped a bunch,” Serrano told me, “because it allows for me to be a presence in a space without having to hit people up directly.” In essence, as social media shrinks the world and streamlines mass communication, it’s easier than ever for an individual to develop a substantial readership.”

Read more:Thanks to Twitter, Writers Are More Influential than Publishers“, Craig Davis, Contently

“On social media, attention is the currency and in 2017 everyone has the opportunity to become an influencer. Savvy brands are starting to realise that they can generate an impressive return on investment working in partnership with people with around 1,000 followers, not just people with celebrity status.”

Read more:Social media in 2017: What do the experts predict?“, Nikki Gilliland, E-consultancy

Combined with the exponential rise of systemic risks linked to those platforms, the mass communication driven by social media necessitates to re-assess individual needs behind information sharing. On top of developing diversity among sources and platforms, experts encourage responsible approaches to social communications by smartly questioning the shared and individual values they imply and the systemic impact they may create. 

“It really comes down to this: are you building your career or just following the crowd? Are you striving to be the best at an in-demand expertise or just slugging it out with millions of others doing the same thing? Are you gaining the experience and exposure you need to grow? These are questions you should be asking yourself.”

Read more: “This is why social media analytics are essentially worthless“, Steve Tobak, Entrepreneur

Learn how digital strategies shaped for systemic innovation can help businesses adapt to the level of information and connectivity implied by the digital economy. 

Disrupting the information value chain


Social media influenced recent political events and moves, leading analysts to question their role and place in public debate. Now identified as credibility providers, such platforms enable entire communities to generate awareness around pressing issues. Such online trends, with direct impact on thinking frameworks and shared values, reshape the notion of democracy, and questions the efficiency of virtual aspirations for real change.

“Following the Jasmine Revolution which was widely spread through Facebook and Twitter social networks, following Podemos or Les indignés, it is now Nuit Debout’s turn to agitate democracy through Periscope platform. Is it a trend or a persistent phenomena? “

Voir plus:ContreChamps: Quel impact les réseaux sociaux peuvent-ils avoir sur la démocratie?“, Anaïs Richardin, Maddyness

Information as an industry is also profoundly challenged by the emergence of new actors. Deploying new formats to adapt to new channels and multiply access to customers has become a business as usual activity for brands. They even lead to developing new dedicated formats for specific platforms, disrupting the information value chain. 

“Discover: News and entertainment companies present their stories on Snapchat Discover. Some brands, such as “Saturday Night Live” and the cable network E!, have created Discover-only content, making the Snapchat app feel like a media company in and of itself. People watch and read Discover for an editorial perspective on life.”

Read more: “How Snapchat is shaping social media“, Katie Benner, The New York Times

“About publication types, one can notice how video has crossed a chasm since it represents more than half of posts (54,9%). So when you issues one video a day, you need the necessary team able to offer enough content for followers.” 

Lire plus: “Comment les 30 plus grandes marques utilisent Facebook en 2016“, Valentin Blanchot, Siècle Digital

Cultural and generational barriers may restrain the impact of social media, as well as generating further complexity in users ability to fully reflect the diversity of opinions that exist on specific topics. In addition, the development of social media has a direct impact on how journalists themselves are able to analyze facts. Because they could be used to build knowledge sharing areas with global impact, experts highlight the need to develop  intelligent content and tools, concentrating on diversity and sense to enrich information shared with data savvy audiences.

“As with any new technology, many people are still intimidated by social media in this context. Training can obviously help with this. Perhaps one of the chief things you will need to do is to convince people of the value social media can bring to their work in innovation. In other words, you have to be able to answer the perennial “What’s in it for me?” question that people always raise when faced with having to adapt to something new.”

Read more:A roadmap for Social Media and Innovation Efforts“, Stefan Lindegaard, LinkedIn

“If respondents in their majority acknowledge a high impact of social media on the rythme of work as journalists, 89% complain about the shift from concentrating on quality to concentrating on speed. “

Lire Plus:Quels sont les comportements des journalistes vis-à-vis des réseaux sociaux?“, Arnaud Verchère, Siècle Digital

The Information Era is a trend captured among community based definition of innovation for 2015. Learn how it influences our global innovation story writes the innovation story that thousands of innovation experts around the world constantly develop and share on WAI social networks. Browse our knowledge library and read our management reports to learn more.

Photograph: Nirina Photography

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