Tagged: Emerging Media Studies

The art and science of social media management

June 15th, 2016 in Blog

When I decided I wanted to study digital communication, particularly the mechanizations of social media, I got a whole lot of interesting reactions from my family and friends. Some believed social media to be the hot new topic after the dot com furor. Others’ responses ranged from mild curiosity to blatant skepticism on its potential to help me land a job.

In the first week of my first semester at the department of Emerging Media Studies at Boston University’s College of Communication, it was pretty clear that most of my classmates resonated my sentiments. Some of them, like me, had a certain amount of exposure to working in the field of social media for business purposes while others had a keen social research interest from the academic standpoint. But everyone agreed that it was a subject intriguing enough for us to go all in. So I guess, I wasn’t crazy after all!

At this point of the digital revolution, most people are acquainted to a certain extent with social media, if not entirely been swept off their feet by the phenomenon. We humans are social by nature. And social media is just another way of congregating, albeit in the comfort of our own digital bubbles. It has taken over our lives, defining how we communicate and maintain relationships. We use social media in some or the other form, perhaps more than one platform and most likely on a daily basis. We are tethered to our mobile devices and depend on the strength of the wi-fi for our general happiness. Our days start and end with snoozefeeds. And that, says a lot about how times have changed since we basically communicated with our buddies in the playground with two cans tied with a string.

A social media user’s psyche is geared to garner maximum attention from the audience. This is true irrespective of whether you are an individual whose primary goal is to stay connected with your community or share what’s making your world go round; or, if you are a business entity looking to build your brand, strengthen your follower base or monetize your offerings.

Hand drawing business strategy concepts

While everyone wants to get on board the social media bandwagon, not everyone knows how to make the most of the technology.

Individual users probably don’t need to worry about attracting, increasing or retaining their follower base. However, the same cannot be said for businesses or institutions relying on their digital footprint to propagate their brand. As new technologies emerge, communication patterns evolve and users from all over the world chime in, businesses are clamoring to remain in the forefront of their audience’s minds. Hence the need to study the phenomenon and its varied “promising” avenues from different perspectives.

So the question arises: Is social media really all that it’s cut out to be? Is it even worth one’s time, money and mindshare?

Amy-ShanlerSocial media is easily confused with social networks and internet-aided digital communication. And understandably so, since we use them more and think about them less. With increasing mobile access and mediated, multi-threaded online interactions, the various aspects of value are growing less and less discernible. However, there is more to it than just the medium or surrounding paraphernalia. At the core, is the “social” element – the people themselves, playing multiple active roles as content creators, curators, consumers, and relayers.

“Social media is less of a ‘media’ and more a ‘digitally interconnected universe’,” says Amy Shanler, associate professor and director of PRLab – the student-run public relations agency at BU’s College of Communication. “Considering things are constantly changing on social networks, it can be managed through a cyclic, multi-step, iterative process involving research, strategy and planning along with content creation, collaboration, and analytics.”

“What it means is that the best content isn’t about you. It’s about what your audience is looking for,” clarifies Professor Shanler, who has over 20 years of industry experience managing communications activities a range of organizations and industries, including retail, technology, business, health care, and entertainment. “Audiences today are tech-savvy, actively vocal, and as invested with your content as you are.” She believes companies looking to derive value from their social media pursuits should align their goals to seamlessly connect with those of their target audience.

Managing social networks with a specific goal in mind is both a science, and an art. More importantly, it is about managing ourselves within our social networks and staying on our toes to make the next big leap. Here at BU COM’s Emerging Media Studies program, we get to deep dive into the various facets of user psychology, media use, emerging trends and the dynamics of digital communication. This June, our annual graduate student conference #Screentime will delve into various topics around the affordances and constraints of mediated life. Connect with us to share your thoughts or to find more information around the subject.

Me againSai Indira Priyadarshini | @indmish

Originally from Bangalore, India, I’m an industry-oriented digital communications and social media marketing enthusiast. I’m constantly soaking in new trends while peering at the nuts and bolts of emerging technologies and their impact on people’s everyday lives. Questioning everything and learning from first principles is my mantra and Boston University’s advanced Emerging Media Studies program has been instrumental in propelling my curious mindset. Connect with me on LinkedIn and share your thoughts on my blog.

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Networks and Networking – In Study and In Practice

June 2nd, 2016 in Blog

By Samantha Middleton

The term “network” and has become an essential concept not only in how our society relates to technology and to each other, but also an even more important term to us in Emerging Media Studies. While we continue to plan #Screentime and work on client-facing projects for our classes, we simultaneously are investigating the history of networks, and learning about “networking” both in study and practice.

I feel like I can’t escape the term. Our research here at BU is constantly shaped by social networking and how those networks have impacted the way we communicate and work with one another. And as we have an entire class on the history of technological networks, and also have to start building our professional networks as we near graduation, suddenly networks are integral to our success as students, professionals, and for #Screentime.

Boston University Public Relations professor and social media guru Amy Shanler met with our program recently to discuss how using our own networks and building new ones will lead to a more successful academic conference. She shaped the discussion by asking us how we will bridge the delta between a target audience and an engaged audience.

In terms of social content and networking, this means that significant research has and will continue to be conducted to ensure that we are reaching out to the right audience for #Screentime, including professionals, graduate researchers, industry experts and educators. In order to make promotional content effective in a social network, the network with which we are sharing that content is the first aspect that must be established.

When planning an event like #Screentime, setting goals and objectives is an essential part of the process. We also know that setting those objectives means that not all of them have or will be met. While initially disheartening, we know to see this as an indication we need to re-evaluate our strategy and use analysis to find new insights and opportunities.

I couldn’t help but think of Professor Shanler’s advice for network strategy as essential to our conference planning but even more significant to the looming job hunt and entrance into the competitive digital. The networks we build, both social and professional, on or offline, should be carefully crafted, maintained, and managed. “Expanded reach” is not just a term for social media strategy, it is a goal and sign of effective networking.

Amy Shanler

The networks we build can offer opportunity and success in unforeseen and surprising ways. A cup of coffee with an old professor or someone in a different profession can lead to a research path or job opportunity not previously considered. And while being “social” and “networking” may seem like a natural part of how we communicate and relate to one another, in order for these strategies to be effective in and outside of the classroom, our networks need to be maintained, managed, and created with genuine care.


About Samantha


I’m a Chicago native and a Boston transplant who came to the east coast to get my Bachelor’s in Communication from Boston College. My background is in journalism and my concentration here at EMS has been examining new forms of conversation emerging from technologies and platforms like Twitter and Snapchat (and how I don’t think it means we are losing our ability to talk to people!) This year, I have really enjoyed learning from Dr. Cummings in his New Communication Technologies class, where I also was able to present a project on something very near to my heart: the lack of access to mental health care on college campuses, and how we can use emerging technology to fix that.

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Virtual reality: a new way of storytelling

April 25th, 2016 in Blog

by Serena Bronda

In the Emerging Media Studies Program we tackle pretty much everything.

Most of our discussions involve theory that apply to modern technology. Therefore, we are constantly updated on latest technologies, curious about studying the effects that those technologies have on users’ behavior and attitudes.

Virtual reality (VR) is definitely a topic we have dived deep into.

VR is a kind of “hot topic” today. It has been long in development, but it is now emerging as a business. Companies from a variety of industries are starting to use virtual reality: tech companies and media titans such as Walt Disney are developing content for headsets, short films and video games. We have seen how VR has been applied for gaming and entertainment: video game producers have come up with fantastic solutions for interactive gaming, thanks to equipment such as Oculus Rift or other VR glasses which provide 3D graphics. It seems to be only the beginning: VR headset revenues are expected to reach $895 million by the end of the year according to market researcher Strategy Analytics.

But VR in no longer reserved only for gaming and entertainment: it has made its way into journalism.

2016-02-02 16.03.41

A new report released by Knight Foundation and USA Today Network predicts that 2016 will be the most significant year so far for the development of virtual reality in journalism.

In November 2015 The New York Times took a step into virtual reality: the publishing giant released NYT VR, the mobile app, which used along with headphones and CardBoard viewer, stimulates immersive scenes of 360° videos.

Chris Milk, founder of Vrse who partnered with The New York Times for the production of documentary “Walking New York”, in an interview with Vanity Fair said: “In virtual reality, were placing the viewer inside a moment or a story made possible by sound and visual technology thats actually tricking the brain into believing its somewhere else.” He believes that such experiences are more than documentaries, but rather opportunities to walk a mile in someone elses shoes.”

VR implications for viewers are countless. What are the effects on users’ attention? What about emotional and behavioral effects? Do positive outcomes outweigh the negative?

Our Professor of Psychology of Emerging Media Mina Tsay-Vogel argues that incorporating immersive technologies in the context of news would deeply heighten ones sense of presence or state of being thereas users engage with a particular story or event. Such experiences allow users to not only feel more transported into a story, but also experience the emotions that accompany such events, potentially increasing ones empathy toward those who are involved”.

2016-02-02 16.09.54 HDR

James Cummings, our Professor of New Communication Technologies highlights empathy as one of the major advantages of VR on the part of users. “Standing face to face with a young child in a refugee camp or alongside first responders to a natural disaster on the other side of the world may help humanize the individuals involved in these stories, by allowing users to virtually inhabit, even if only temporarily, their lived experiences”, he said. However, he underlines that VR may similarly prove quite dangerous for journalism: users might forget that VR messages may involve great levels of production and editing and came to the point of asking themselves: “Whose perspective am I experiencing?”.

Is this the real future of journalism? No doubt VR is a very powerful storytelling technique that has grabbed the attention of big media companies that are currently investing lots of money in it.

Will VR stick around or will it fade out of popularity? Let’s stay tuned and see what 2016 has reserved to us in the world of emerging media technologies.

If you want to know more about what we study at the Emerging Media Studies Program, check our blog for future posts and our website for further updates!

headshotSerenaAbout Serena

Originally from Italy, my background is in journalism and I earned a M.A. in International Journalism at City London University in 2014. I am currently pursuing my M.A. in Emerging Media Studies at BUs College of Communication. Before BU, I have worked for various media companies in UK and New Zealand. My favorite class at EMS is Trending Insights with Professor Guo. I’m very interested in social media analysis specifically related to health communication and how healthcare can use social media effectively and compliantly. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn .

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Wait, what’s #Screentime?

April 15th, 2016 in Blog

By Alexander Landa

This is a question we’ve gotten a few times. We get the question “What is Emerging Media Studies?” a lot more, though.

Luckily, we can (mostly) answer these questions now.

#Screentime is a student-run conference, organized by the Emerging Media Studies program at Boston University, part of the College of Communication. In short, we want to hold an event that represents our major as a whole, showcasing components that define emerging media, such as virtual reality, social media, new modes of communication, and so on. We want to see how other scholars, researchers, and industry professionals are using these new trends in technology in their lives, such as the news organization creating VR news reports, and those who use social media for health communication.

Last semester we explored the topic of emerging media from a much more theoretical approach, learning what methods researchers use to understand the field, and the supporting background that explains why we perform such intense research. This semester, we’re tackling these concepts head-on in almost every class, holding focus groups, conducting surveys, and lots and lots of content analysis.


All of this leads to our final project – #Screentime. As part of a year-long collaboratory class with different projects throughout, everything leads up to this event. We have to use various research approaches to determine what people want to see from a conference, we implement our professional and applied skills to create promotional material like flyers and videos, and we use our understanding of the field and theories to define the content we want to see and showcase once June 23rd hits.

For future students looking at the EMS program, be ready for a lot of work – but all fulfilling, practical work where we implement both the academic side of the degree, and the professional, applied track. EMS isn’t strictly academic, nor is it a completely professional MA program, rather it’s a unique combination of both. A big part of why we hold this conference – and now why we’re documenting so much of it – is to be transparent with a program that sounds confusing to many people.


#Screentime 2015


#Screentime 2015

For those looking at submitting abstracts, we’re still accepting submissions and we’d love to see your work! We want this conference to tackle different approaches towards emerging media, so if your institution or work uses these new trends, then let’s see what you’re up to!

Lastly, for those just wishing to follow the EMS brand and to check out the conference, be on the lookout for videos, event coverage, and tons of ‘day-in-the-life’ content that highlights our new brand and major within the BU College of Communication.

Be sure to follow our program and #Screentime on social media to stay up-to-date with speakers, schedules, location, and so on. We’ll be posting lots of fun stuff over the next few months, and we’re so excited to see this thing through!

alex About Alex

@AlexanderMLanda | Alexander Landa

Growing up with parents who were always getting the latest gadgets, gizmos, and games, I’ve always been so aware of all new technology coming out – and I love all of it. Originally from upstate New York, I graduated from Marist College in 2013 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a Psychology minor Before coming to BU, I’ve worked in various industries, mainly gamification and copyediting, though I look forward to working with a non-profit upon graduation. The EMS program is a great outlet for me to combine all of my passions, but I mainly love this program since it gives me an excuse to play more video games, since now I can say it’s for research.



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