Monday, March 5, 2012

Social Media Ethnography

As most people may or may not know MySpace was the first social media that grabbed the attention of both the older and younger public. Since being the first social media, MySpace was groundbreaking because it gave an immense amount of freedom to the general community. In MySpace people were able to communicate with their friends and even make new friends and relationships. Another thing that most young users including myself really liked was the fact that each person was able to customize their own profile as much as they pleased. However, the feature that people from my survey thought was the reason why MySpace became such a phenomenon was the fact that they could communicate with such a large audience. This was extremely important to the younger generation because they were able to communicate without being charged a fee.  Mostly all of these young users had no income so to them a free social media sounded a whole lot better than calling one another; This made most teenagers choose MySpace over a phone. Even though MySpace was the first social media that gave people the ability to communicate in a whole different manner than ever before certain users eventually became bored with it. These few users who got tired of MySpace found Facebook (another social media), so they decided to switch over to Facebook and give it a try. At first it was a gradual transition the public had, but eventually more and more people began to switch over to the new social media until Facebook eventually took the crown of social media supremacy. This to me was astonishing and it made me wonder what were the reasons why the MySpace users left and decided to make Facebook their new social media of choice. So in order to find this answer I decided to conduct a survey with the people from my hometown because they were the group of people who I was associated myself with when this shift happened.

            Since I knew that I was going back home for the weekend I thought that this would be the best time to conduct my survey because I would have the chance to ask all of my friends why they switched. I knew that the best way in which I could conduct my survey was to try and have as many friends as I could to talk to me in person. By doing this I was going to be able to see their body expressions to their answers. For example I would be able to tell that one of my friends felt very strongly about his reason if he was flapping his arms around. While I wasn’t able to get a chance to get a face-to-face discussion with all of my friends, however I thought asking them through a phone call would have to do. All I all I interviewed 30 people in total, 16 of them were guys and the rest were girls. In order to conduct a very accurate ethnography I tried to get an even number of guys and girls, and to ensure accuracy even more I came up with 4 very simple questions that will be the exact same ones asked to each person. The first question I asked was, “What was the reason why you decided to get a MySpace?” The second question was, “What was your favorite feature about MySpace?” The third question was, “What made you want to switch from MySpace to Facebook?” The final question was, “Now that you have had both a MySpace and a Facebook, what do you think is the biggest difference between the two social media websites?” I was pretty confident that if I administer these questions I will be able to discover the main reason why most MySpace users switched over to Facebook.
            When I asked the first question of my survey to my 30 friends I got answers that I was pretty much expecting to hear. For example, 20 of the 30 replied that the reason why they got a MySpace was because their friends also had one and they did not want to be left behind. Then from the 10 remaining 7 said that they got a MySpace because of the fact that they did not have a phone and they thought that their only way of communicating with their friends when they needed something was through MySpace. While the remaining 3 said that they only got one to have it and that they honestly do not even use it, they even said that they could live without it. However in my second question I was expecting my answers to be a bit more diverse than my expectations for the first question. This time 7 of the 30 replied that their favorite feature about MySpace was how they were each able to customize their individual page as much as they wanted without having anyone telling them something. Then from the 23 remaining 8 said that their favorite feature was how they were all able to find old friends and new friends and be able to talk to them. Then 10 from the remaining 15 said that their favorite feature was how they were able to upload their pictures and have people comment on them. Most of the people who said that they liked this were girls because they all admitted that they all like to have guys commenting on their pictures because they feel wanted. While the remaining 5 said that their favorite feature was how they were able to show off their favorite things such as music, books, movies and sports teams. The next question was the most important one, and I was very intrigued to see what the answers are going to be. From the 30 I found out that 17 switched to Facebook because everyone else was doing it as well and they did not be the only one who stays on MySpace. This was pretty much the same reason why I also switched over to Facebook. From the 13 remaining 4 said that they switched over to Facebook because they liked the layout of Facebook a whole lot more than the one MySpace had. The remaining of my friends said that they didn’t really switch over to Facebook but instead they pretty much just got a Facebook while they had a MySpace and was using both of them at the same time. For the final question I was not to sure what the responses were going to be but I wanted to know their answers. From the 30 of friends 3 of them said they did not really know the differences between the two social media websites because as they had already mentioned in question one they did not really use their MySpace accounts that often. However 10 of the remaining people said that some of the biggest differences was that Facebook was so much more formal and more for mature people while MySpace was much more juvenile. Two people said that the biggest difference for them was that Facebook had a LIKE button unlike MySpace where you could only comment. From the remaining 15 people 6 of them said that the biggest difference for them was how Facebook was so much more global than MySpace. As we all know MySpace was global, however, Facebook is far more global. This made sense to because almost all of my family members from Mexico are able to talk me. Four of these people said that their biggest difference was how people can create an event and also make a group for a club, fraternity, sport, etc. While the remaining 5 people that their biggest difference was how much bigger Facebook is than MySpace in both schools and in businesses. This makes sense because now that I think about it CSUN and the businesses that are on campus have a Facebook page, to me this is incredible.

            MySpace was the social media that set off the trend that people could communicate with one another through a free online website. When it first came out it was breathe taking because this had never been done before. MySpace was incredibly huge for a while until the new social media site, Facebook, came around. Once Facebook came around MySpace began to dwindle away because people were leaving. MySpace is still in use at this point in time, however it lost a lot of users when Facebook came into the picture. In the responses I received I was surprised yet I already had an idea that some of the answers were going to be similar to reasons why I decided to either get a MySpace and then get a Facebook. This just makes you think that what’s next for when it comes to social media sites. What is going to be the next big thing that comes around and eventually knocks down Facebook from its high horse? This is bound to happen either way because social media sites are just like in electronics there is always something new coming out. As of right now Facebook is the top social media until another tops it, but when it does I would really be interested to see why people leave Facebook for another site. 

1 comment:

  1. Cisco,

    This is a really great ethnography. You ask great questions and you received answers that trumped your assumptions about Facebook users and why they switched from MySpace. This is exactly why researchers, journalists, scholars, and now students conduct ethnographic studies. You used what is called a primary source as opposed to a secondary source (an article, essay, etc.).

    What I would suggest you do for the portfolio is give us, your audience, a better idea of the demographic you interviewed. Yes, you did tell us their sex, male and female, but what about their age, race, socio-economic status, education? Where do they live? Remember, you are looking at a very specific, and small, part of the population that uses Facebook, so they may or may not represent the vast majority of Facebook users. Whether they do or do not represent the majority isn't really your concern with your ethnography. You want to know what a specific group feels about the transition, so it would be best to know that maybe a majority of 17-19-year-old students from your hometown left MySpace for one reason or another.