DigComm - Jan 2016

Week 11: Course Wrap-Up and Case Study

 

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So I know I wrote last week’s blog post with a depressing air of finality, but I Just couldn’t let you guys not see the fruits of my labor.

For the past six weeks, each of us taking Intro to Dig Comm has been working on a case study. We got to pick our own topics, so every presentation that was given last night (during our last class – sob!) was insanely interesting. When people research a topic they’re passionate about, the interest shows, and this project gave us a lot of freedom to look into some really cool things.

Basically, what we had to do was pick a company or brand who used digital media in an interesting way, and explain how and why the campaign worked. Some of my favorite presentations were about Disney, Marvel, and Coca-Cola – name brands we interact with every day, who are leading in innovation and changing the digital media game as we know it.

But my project was a little different. Rather than analyze an entire company who upped their social media presence over the course of a few campaigns, I decided to try something else. For my case study, I looked at the 2016 film Deadpool, which, as you might have heard, raked in over $600 million dollars so far despite having a budget of just $58 million – a budget that Ryan Reynolds himself, the star, quipped was usually just the ‘cocaine budget’ for other Superhero films.

Deadpool smashed records nationwide, even breaking 50 Shades of Grey’s box office opening weekend record. For 20th Century Fox and Marvel, it was a winner from the moment it premiered, and they didn’t even have to spend millions of dollars on flashy trailers and expensive TV commercial spots to make it happen.

So how did they make it happen? Innovative social media marketing and viral content creation.

In my paper, I analyze the campaign used to sell Deadpool to consumers in a way that’s meant to be neutral but probably comes off as more praising – I really, really, really loved the film, okay?

Here’s a link to my paper. If you haven’t seen the film, GO SEE IT NOW. Hopefully my case study will still interest you if you haven’t, but I promise you won’t regret it.

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As for the semester’s end, I don’t think there’s anything more I can say that I didn’t squeeze into my blog last week or tweet about, but, just because I don’t think it can be said enough: I had a great time in class this semester. To date, Intro to Dig Comm has been one of the best classes I’ve taken (undergrad included, since it’s my first grad school class!).

This course has been such a great start to my graduate school experience. I can’t wait to finally meet everyone at the Immersion on Friday (and I’m sorry for rushing through my presentation. I was really excited).

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DigComm - Jan 2016

Week 3 Reflection: Social Media & Web 2.0, Explored

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I love to start blog posts with a quirky cartoon, but given that the topic this week was social media, I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t overwhelmingly negative. We already know how I feel about the internet, technology, and those against it, so I won’t get into it now, but I do think it’s a little silly that so much of the ‘mature’ opinion seems to reflect the idea that social media is dumbing us all down.

I see social media mostly as a generational fad, like bell bottoms or disco or other fads that generations before me were obsessed with — like ruining the economy. Older members of Gen X want to use any excuse to shame ‘millennials’ for updating their social media accounts, but I am a firm believer that everyone should embrace social media, as it has proven to be a huge force behind shaping the current landscape of digital communication.

Whether we like it or not, social media is integrated in virtually every aspect of our lives. Even the simple aspect of dining out at a restaurant has become a social event with sites like Yelp or FourSquare. Social media is the new e-mail, in the sense that it has become so widespread that we look at people who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook the same way we might look at someone who doesn’t have an email address — as though they are completely insane.

Social media and Web 2.0 are such unique concepts because they focus primarily on user-generated content. While this is an undoubtedly ‘cool’ concept, it also creates a level of accountability among users that not everyone handles correctly. During class, we briefly touched upon how once a series of words reach the internet, they never really leave. Everyone has heard at least one story of someone who said something on social media they probably shouldn’t have and faced consequences at work, or school, or in their ‘real life’ because of it.

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At the same time, this focus on user-generated content is mostly responsible for the multifunctional purpose social media now serves within our lives. Look at, for example, Amazon Reviews. Product reviews on Amazon are not technically a ‘social network,’ but, rather, they are user-generated responses that in turn generate surrounding attention. They serve a dual purpose: first, serious Amazon reviews are enjoyed by other Amazon users who value the opinions of their peers and take them into account when purchasing a new product, and second, the practice of writing joke Amazon product reviews has now become a widely popularized internet forum for humor, almost on the same level as Reddit.

This idea of how one platform can have all of these nuances was what I found most intriguing about this week’s presentations. Learning about platforms I’d never heard of before was interesting because when you study a new platform, you don’t only learn about how one user can interact with the platform. You also learn the way every user interacts with one another — the social part of social networking. In some instances, I find the community aspect each social networking platform holds to be the most interesting part about the whole platform. Take, for example, the Couchsurfing platform presented. Users receive no incentive for participating, yet they couch-surf and build their profiles and interact with one another and the platform continues to thrive despite the existence of safer competitive sites.

If nothing else, it’s always good to learn the ins and outs of a new social media platform. Whether we like it or not, social media is everywhere now, and it’s not going away. So I found the material from this week incredibly useful and engaging, and believe that what we discussed in class will have legitimate real-world application moving forward. As the semester progresses, I would love to take a more in-depth look at social networking sites and the many sub-communities that exist online. This week’s snapshots barely scratched the surface of the many, many groups that reside within the vast corners of the internet.

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