We do research all the time, even if we don’t realise it. Research simply and literally means “to search for, to find” (Berger, 2014). We undertake research everyday, in order to help us make decisions and choices. It may be intuitive, common sense, causal or selective (McCutcheon, 2015), but in many instances, research is done unconsciously and automatically. Not all research that we undertake is deliberate or scholarly (but scholarly research is important and I will come back to that later).
With technology and social media so available, information is readily accessible and absorbable. The opinions of others that are shared through our social media sites influence our choices and help to inform us when making decisions. For example, how many of your are reading my blog post for the pure and simple reason of trying to find inspiration and information for your own blog post… because you have left it to the last minute and are freaking out? I know that is what I did. Or, how often is the UOW Buy and Sell page consulted for, not only buying and selling, but for information? I have seen everything from people seeking employment opportunities to individuals wanting to find out the best place on campus for Gluten-Free food.
Berger (2014) makes a relevant point in that when we want to purchase something (especially something that will use up the funds), many people will go online and look at product descriptions, reviews, price comparisons etc. etc. I did this just the other day before buying my iPad keyboard case (hit up the JB Hi-Fi website). But I also do this with little things, like Youtube-ing what makeup products I should invest in or scrolling through Pinterest to find a new Brownie recipe.
The omnipresence of social media has such a significant impact on the contemporary Western world, that we use it in almost all aspects of our lives.
This leads me to what I want to focus on, or “research”; the place social media has in our lives. I want to know of social media’s use as a research tool; its utilization as a communication tool; its evolution from traditional media… or to find out if Youtube and Pinterest are only useful for recipes and reviews.
Ok, I know what you’re all thinking…
But hear me out… With the rapid evolution and growth of social media, it should be taken as seriously as conventional or traditional media. As of February 2015:
- Facebook had 13.8 million steady users
- WordPress.com had 6.1 million
- Instagram had 4 million monthly active Australian users
- Twitter had 2.8 million users
- Pinterest had 350,000
- Snapchat had 1.07 million active Australian users
- …And Tinder had approximately 1.5 million Australian users (Cowling, 2015).
The research I conducted to find this information could be classified as scholarly research (I told you I would mention it later). Scholarly research is generally more systematic, objective, careful and deliberate than everyday research, and is concerned with correctness and truthfulness than everyday research (Berger, 2014). I do intend for there to be more scholarly research, and generally more directness to my posts in the upcoming weeks… So we have that to look forward to.
Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32.
Cowling, D 2015, Social Media Statistics Australia – February 2015, Social Media News, viewed 16.3.15, <http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-february-2015/>.
McCutcheon, M 2015, ‘What is Media Research?’, powerpoint slides, BCM210, UOW, viewed 11.3.15.