Christian Long

Alexis Ohanian: How to Make a Splash in Social Media

In TED Talks on May 24, 2010 at 8:57 am

Extra credit reflection by JENNA K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Alexis Ohanian:  How to Make a Splash in Social Media

“Become a fan if you love [insert latest fad]”

Now, joining a group on Facebook is such a casual act, that it doesn’t really mean anything. You can join a group supporting “going green” for instance, and not really support the movement. Being able to just click the “like” button allows you to be connected while not actually being active. Alexis Ohanian talks about how naming a hunchbacked whale, “Mister Splashy Pants” helped bring awareness to a cause, but did it really? It seems likely to me that all those votes were done without thinking twice, and nobody thought about saving whales, only about a whale named Mister Splashy Pants.

So people may be making a splash in social media, but is social media actually making a splash in real life?

4,624 people like going green on Facebook. How many of those people do you think actually take steps toward making a more eco-friendly world? I’m thinking, not many. I don’t even remember the last group I joined on Facebook, but I’m sure whoever started it thinks I care. Groups like these seem to be creating a false sense of connection among the thousands of people involved in social media. Ohanian may think its easy to make a splash but I think its a lot harder to make a difference.

281, 648 people like Sonic Drive-Ins. Thats 60 times more fans than there are for going green. So does this mean more people care about delicious burgers and limeades than they do about saving our planet? I don’t think so. I think all these numbers reflect is the creative group name, or the cool profile picture right next to the name. More people are more likely to join a group with a funny, unique name than they are to join a group they honestly are interested in.

I am currently a fan of 202 different pages on Facebook and I can honestly say I don’t know why I joined them and I haven’t gone and looked at any of those pages since I joined them. Why did I join them then?

I joined them because I thought they were funny, or for a split second I thought too myself, “no way theres other people who think that too?!” and in that second I had become a fan and seen another group that I wanted to join. So, while Ohanian may think that social media may be having a huge impact on popular decisions, and world wide connections, I’m going to have to disagree and say that it only seems that way.

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  1. Ah, I think you mean humpback whale. As for social media, the effect the splashy pants campaign had is evidenced by the fact that the Japanese govt ended their whaling campaign for that year. This was not the first time Greenpeace tried to end the whaling, but by their own admission, was a success bc of all the attention their silly name got. I never posited that “social media may be having a huge impact on popular decisions” – in fact, I don’t even understand what that means 🙂

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