It is my final year of graduate school! A mere nine months from now I will walk away from Milwaukee, WI with a M.A. in Communication. I honestly feel like I just got started with this whole masters idea, but here I am, a seasoned pro on the homestretch. 6 months from now, I’ll probably look back at this and say “girl, you were not on the homestretch…you were lots and lots and lots of work away from the homestretch”, but I’m going to ignore the logical part of my brain and say I am most certainly on the homestretch. Maybe this will help me avoid the senior slide that seems inevitable when it’s your third time being a “senior”.
Part of the final year of graduate school here at Marquette is a final assessment of sort. We have options. We can complete additional coursework and comprehensive exams, we can complete a professional project, or we can complete a thesis. I choose thesis, so here goes nothin! And even though it sounds intimidating, I’m kind of excited about it. In a nerdy kind of way. And I’d like to share with you the sweet thesis I’m working on this year.
As you can tell, I have a particular interest in social media. In fact, many communication scholars have a particular interest in social media. It really changes the game of communication. Beyond that, it is the most drastic change to communication since communication studies became an academic discipline right around the 1960s. So, it’s time to take a look at the theories that communication studies have come up with and see how they can help us understand the social media a little better. Which is what I intend to do with my thesis.
Social media has become a big part of organizational life within organizations. It’s used to communicate with one another within an organization, it’s used to build relationships with vendors and other related parties, and it’s used to communicate and interact with external audiences. This gives companies tools for public relations, branding, recruiting, marketing, customer service, etc. In other words, it can completely change what’s an organization is doing. As of yet, however, there has been very little research about social media from an organizational communication perspective. So that’s what I intend to do.
I’ll start by reviewing what research has been done in this area from a variety of approaches. From there, I’ll look at organizational communication theories that help us gain insight into the use of social media within an organization. And, finally, I’ll work toward expanding what’s out there to create an organizational communication model of social media use within an organization. It’s that simple. In theory (ba dum dum).
Ok, maybe it’s not simple. It’s a thesis, afterall. But I do think it’s interesting! The reality is, organizations are freaking out about social media. They are unsure how to approach it and what it does to their business, but they are also scared of not having a presence on social media. Who knows what kinds of conversations are happening about your product on social media if you’re not there? It’s clear that organizations must be there, but that doesn’t calm the trembling knees.
What does sooth organizational members is when they realize that social media is new, it’s interesting, it’s dynamic, but it’s still just a platform for communication. It’s not a new type of communication. It’s not radical. It’s just a new, dynamic, and powerful communication platform where the old rules still apply. Communication studies knows a lot about communication, but it’s time we draw the tie between what we know and social media for the sake of our terrified organizational friends.
Let me know if you have any questions about what I’m doing! I’m going to be spending a lot of time on this project because I think it’s interesting and worth it, so I’d love to talk to you more about it!