SF State's downtown campus hosts Social Media Week events

This week is a big one for social media. From hashtags and mentions, to likes and follows, human interactions have been heavily influenced by the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

The globally celebrated Social Media Week is a week-long event about all things pertaining to this growing phenomenon. From its launch in New York City its first year, Social Media Week has expanded to 12 different cities around the world in the last three years, with SF State’s downtown campus serving as one of its content hubs Wednesday and Thursday.

Kathy O’Donnell, who is the professor and department chair of marketing, said Social Media Week would be a great opportunity to get people into the downtown campus.

“We’ve been so lucky to put together an amazing program for the two days that we’re hosting, Wednesday and Thursday,” said O’Donnell. “They are packed with really talented and intelligent speakers from so many different facets of the business and non-profit sector.”

With six presentations scheduled for Wednesday, and seven on Thursday, social media experts will congregate on the fifth floor on campus located at 835 Market St. These panelists will talk about a unifying theme: social media’s role in providing social good for the community.

“The idea is that these are entrepreneurs who are looking at doing new and innovative ideas in the space of social good,” said Sameer Verma, who is an associate professor of information systems at SF State. “If you split up the terms, you’re basically looking at a project that’s uplifting and improves people’s lives through education or technology.”

Verma will be one of several panelists that will speak Wednesday at 10 a.m. about various entrepreneurial companies that incorporate the theme of social good into their work. As a volunteer for One Laptop Per Child, which is a program that assists the world’s poorest children through education, aiming to provide each child with a laptop, Verma said that this program epitomizes the concept of social good.

“A lot of people think if something is up on the net, up on the Web, or up on the social media, the whole world gets to see it,” said Verma. “That ‘world’ is only 30 percent of the whole world. Only 30 percent of the world is on the Internet. Seventy percent of this world is not invited to this party, so to speak.”

It’s a big challenge bringing the developing world on board with the social and technological climate of today’s fast-paced society, Verma said.

“A lot of these pockets are so remote. They’re not covered by phone networks,” said Verma. “They don’t have electricity, so we have to use solar power and hand cranks.”

Miko Matsumura, who received his MBA at SF State in 2004, will talk about how neurosciences and cybernetics are molding human interaction today. Matsumura said that this communication mechanism helps propagate the exponential curve in service of social change.

“In a way, it’s almost like the network has become a sort of a co-processor for our brains, and we’re kind of co-evolving with this machine network,” Matsumura said. “With a thing like Twitter, it’s like our society has grown a new brain system or new communication system. So, we’re increasingly becoming this kind of cybernetic social organism with these new capabilities.”

Neil Cohen, a lecturer in the Department of Marketing and San Francisco’s event coordinator, said that social media is the forefront of communications right now. In the marketing landscape, O’Donnell argues that it hastens the process of dispersing valuable information to the public.

“Marketing isn’t all about business. It’s not about just selling beer and potato chips and making people buy things they don’t need,” said O’Donnell. “But you can use the same principles to help promote messaging from nonprofit organizations or to inform people about health hazards, so in my mind that’s kind of how social media fits in with using social media for social good.”

By looking at these technological and social advances as more than fleeting trends, Cohen believes that our methods of communication are constantly changing, as well as how we collect and take in information.

“It’s really a tip-of-the-iceberg situation,” said Cohen. “Even in the short amount of time, social media has shown its true power, but I think it’s still scratching the surface.”

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