In their article Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media, Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein mention five different categories of social media classification:
- collaborative projects,
- content communities,
- social networking sites, and
- virtual game worlds and virtual social worlds.
I have had experiences both first and second-hand and positive and negative with these social media classifications and am going to quickly reflect upon these experiences and how I believe their usage will affect the accounting industry.
With online friends, I have worked on collaborative projects to collect information about specific book series, such as characters descriptions, locations, plot lines, sub-plot, and similarities to other media to form the basis of fan shrine sites, for character music mixes, or just to share with the rest of our community (newbs and the old school crew alike). While these projects did not enable us to present ourselves and our personality to our fellow collaborators, it set the framework for us to take that information and craft it into a product that did allow us to self-present and receive feedback from our projects. I see a use for these types of projects in the accounting industry, specifically with the new potential designation unification process. Currently all three designations’ national bodies are trying to get together to figure out a framework for how all accountants will become designated. They have to set up a system and requirements so that all accounting students are on the same pace, but while still ensuring the designations’ integrity.
Blogging is something that I have done in my younger days. I was a daily blogger, posting about my day, experiences, and thoughts on the likes of LiveJournal, OpenDiary (which the authors’ article implies was founded in 1959, 20 years before the launch of UseNet), and my own (now defunct) self-hosted blog. I enjoyed blogging as it was a nice and essentially anonymous way to get my teenage angst out into the world and no longer bottled up inside of me, but as I have become older I have been more reserved in my need for expressing what I did today, or how annoyed I have become at such and such organization for not operating at their full potential. I have found that there are better alternatives for expressing such feelings, as a good majority of people who would have the same feelings as me are likely not online looking for that conversation; they are my peers chatting with me around the water cooler, or in the Starbucks line. Firms like PwC and MNP are having some of their designated accountants and staff accountants author public blogs, to show potential employees the firm’s culture, what to expect on the job, and how employees attempt to support the work-life balance.
Most of my experience with content communities has been on YouTube and Flickr, where I post and share my photos, view others’ videos and photos, and sometimes will use those photos as add-ins for my web design projects (with the owner’s permission or if the owner has auto granted license to do so). Content communities are great resources for visitors to come into and have access to content and use it as needed, whether for artistic endeavours, or for personal interest. In terms of feedback, I would say that YouTube is better setup to facilitate this than Flickr; the ability for users to like or dislike videos and comments, and add videos to your Favourites list is an option on YouTube. Whereas on Flickr, you can either like a photo or not like it; Flickr only allows for the positive appreciation of the content, and doesn’t allow any easy way to say that something is not liked.
Social Networking Sites
Social Networking sites are something that I use regularly, and focus most of my free time on. I manage both personal and business Twitter and Facebook accounts, and have seen the benefits of using these platforms; they are low-cost and allow for me and my company to interact with our followers and maintain great relationships with them. As a future accountant, I see many opportunities for those in my industry to utilize this platform. I have been very pleased to see all the Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, KPMG, E&Y, and PwC) as well as many mid-sized firms have Twitter and Facebook accounts and encourage their followers to converse with them. Organizations like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta (ICAA) didn’t even use their accounts until the beginning of September aka recruitment season. They sadly lost out on reaching accounting students all summer by waiting until September to start getting information out.
Virtual Game Worlds and Virtual Social Worlds
Virtual game worlds and virtual social worlds are the two categories that I do not have any first-hand experience, but have had enough second-hand experience to have formed an opinion on these areas. I have seen no reason to interact in such a format, because I am not a game-person, and I prefer to socialize with others online via email, IM, or Skype than assuming an avatar to represent my online persona. I have lost boyfriends and friends to World of Warcraft, Everquest, and the Sims, so I obviously have a negative opinion on these two types of social media. From my readings so far in Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, I can understand the need for games and game aspects to be included in our daily lives, but I feel that by trying to socialize and essentially live through these worlds is not beneficial to a person’s socialization skills. There are users of these worlds that are addicted to a point where they cannot get out, and will throw money in without any tangible returns. Unlike using a platform such as Twitter or Facebook which are free to use, World of Warcraft and Second Life requires a monthly, yearly or play-as-you-go subscription, or in order for businesses to utilize their potential they must make financial investments. Through my research in the past, I learned that NAIT’s last president and CEO, Dr. Sam Shaw invested much into building the Second Life virtual NAIT campus, but clearly did not see the returns on this platform considering that the virtual campus is no longer in existence (Bégin-Croft, 2007) (see the note at the bottom of the page).
Kaplan and Haenlein have given us this differentiation of social media platforms and their potential uses for business, and for the most part I agree that all platforms can be utilized, but as they suggest a business must select the correct medium for their message (Kaplan, 2010, p.65). In my future industry, I see some of these being used such as social networking, collaborative projects, and blogs, but of the others I cannot see any viable usage for these to improve the productivity of the accounting industry.
Bégin-Croft, D. (2007). There’s no life like it. Techlife, 1(1), pp. 20-23. Retrieved from http://www.techlifemag.ca/secondlife.htm
Kaplan, A. M., Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), pp.59-68.
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: How games make us better and how they can change the world. New York, USA. Penguin Group Inc.