Social Media Studies

Star-Wars-Story-620x348When we think of social media, most of us probably think of the simple act of liking and commenting on each others’ memes, pictures of kittens, Instant Pot recipes, and gym selfies.

But what if we thought of our social media feeds as stories we were telling about ourselves, in real time?

The storytelling and narrative potential of social media platforms isn’t lost on the world; a basic Google search will show you how many businesses are actively thinking about how best to use social media to reach potential customers. They recognize that social media impacts us in emotional ways, just like a good story, and they want to capitalize on that.

We’re going to take a similar approach (though we won’t only be thinking about storytelling for marketing purposes) for our first assignment in this class. Our first unit will focus on the social aspects of writing in the digital realm, and as part of that, we’ll be working in groups to study the narrative potential of one social media platform.

Today, I’ll put you into groups based on your own level of interest in one of four main social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Your group’s task will be to learn all you can about that platform, report back to the class, and show us what you’ve learned through the construction of a mini location-based narrative used that social media. Specifically, you will:

  • Study the kind of content that seems most suited to your platform, based on how people most use it;
  • Give us a run-down of the demographics of the platform: who is the typical user and what are they doing there;
  • Tell us what you see as the narrative potential of the platform; what kinds of stories is it best suited to tell;
  • Show us a brief narrative your group wrote and posted via this media, making use of the platform’s location-tagging features to situate your story in a specific digital community / environment;
  • Provide any tips & tricks & best practices for people who might be interested in storytelling on this platform.

Each group should prepare a 10-12 minute presentation that covers this information. Of course, your presentation should have a multimedia component; be prepared to show us some stuff on the computer in the classroom, and have some document / handout / slide that you can share with the class after the presentation that summarizes your findings.

The location-based narrative your group writes should be at least 4-5 “posts” long, whatever that looks like in your assigned social media. The posts should be cohesive or connected in some way, and should work together to tell a specific story rooted in a specific location. The story you tell and the location are up to you. The purpose of this component is to show us what a story looks like when told in your social media, so make sure you’re applying the knowledge you’ve gained about your platform when composing and constructing your story.

Feel free to delegate responsibilities and assign different people to study different aspects of the platform, but everyone should participate in the presentation to some extent. Your presentation should include a brief introduction of everyone in your group, and you should make sure to allow time for questions at the end (and ask for them!).

These presentations will take place in class on Thursday, Jan. 24th in random order. You’ll have time in class on 1/15 to work on the location-based narrative, on 1/17 to work on the presentation and multimedia component, and time in class today to delegate the work and research necessary to prepare.

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