What does it mean to be local? My first step in writing this blog post is to define what local means, to guide my writing. Webster’s dictionary defines local in two different ways that I see applicable to social media. The first says that local is “characterized by or relating to position in space: having a definite spatial form or location”, while the second says “of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular place : not general or widespread.” Off of these definitions, I have come up with my own concept of local, sharing a similar geographical position or/and holding mutual ideas, values and culture unique to the geographical area.
After defining what I felt local means, the next step is to explore what the question or topic is asking of me. In writing this blog, I am exploring the statement that social media is incredibly local, and my goal is to dig deeper, to figure out what that actually means. My initial impression is that social media seems like this fast, endless industry that is overwhelming beyond measures. However, most posts on social media, are made to a friend, or organization that is specific to an area. I personally rarely tweet and interact on Facebook or LinkedIn with people who are not my friends, or close to me in some way. So I have come to the conclusion that social media is somewhat contradicting. We see it as this opportunity to connect with the world, but few actually utilize that aspect of it, and chose to only interact locally.
This morning, TMJ4 ran a news story about a local high school who reached out to their students through YouTube. Two teachers created a music video to get students ready to come back to school and to increase school spirit as the school year began (full link to the story: http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/Local-teachers-create-YouTube-sensation-222322531.html .)Social media was used in this case to spread a very specific message to a very specific group of people, and where the message is irrelevant to those who aren’t local to the school/ area.
Another way social media is incredibly local, is through small businesses. This past July when a rumor was going around about the Sobelman’s at Marquette, the company chose to handle the rumors on twitter first. Although there was a lot of backlash on twitter from followers, people who believed the rumors, and people who thought Sobelman’s was being unprofessional, the company still stuck to social media to confront the issue. They even at one point addressed the issue of how to confront the problem of being a local business with a rumor on twitter, by tweeting “(@ a Marquette student’s handle) What is your advice for a local brand facing serious unfounded accusations/ rumors?” Many other tweets on this topic were publicized, and can be fund at https://twitter.com/SobesMU . The Sobelman’s Marquette location was very aware during this time that the problems they were facing only effected a small group of people, mostly Marquette students here for the summer. The social media team at Sobelman’s then used twitter as a platform to deal with the problem because that way they would reach the local market, and the customers who they needed to reach.
Although social media is seen as a global resource, and it is, it is not majorly used that way. Businesses, schools, friends etc. use social media to reach and engage the community around themselves through relevant posts and conversations.