retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Mashable reports on a new study from Pew Research saying that "out of the 64% of American adults who use Facebook, nearly half (30%) use the social network to keep up with news."

That's significantly more than on other social media platforms. The story says that "on YouTube, 10% of U.S. adults use the video platform to get news, while only 8% look for news on Twitter."

"While these percentages, compared to each social network's overall user base, are impressive," Mashable correctly points out, "they're still small portions of the U.S. adult population. Still, as digital and social media evolves, we can expect social news consumption to advance alongside it."

Just as we can all expect these platforms to play increasingly influential roles in how business is conducted, how companies interact with consumers, and how shoppers interact with each other to influence behavior and create trends.

This can happen in a lot of different ways.

Take, for example, the case of Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser. The company named Brendan Eich to be its president last week … a move that has generated a lot of debate because of revelations that six years ago, Eich donated $1,000 to a campaign that supported a legal ban on gay marriage in California. Eich has gone out of his way to separate his personal views from those of his employer, and has pledged to maintaining a supportive and inclusive workplace. But this has not stopped some employees from publicly complaining about his views via social media, and the company has lost three members of its board of directors (though it downplays the connection to Eich's views).

The Times writes that on Monday, "OKCupid, an online dating site, made it difficult for people using Mozilla Firefox to access its service, stating unequivocally that this decision was a result of Mr. Eich being an 'opponent of equal rights for gay couples'."

It is hard to know how this will all turn out. Eich has a right to bis opinion, as do his employees. At least one of the questions that needs to be answered is whether differing views on same-sex marriage are enough to disrupt the workplace in untenable ways.

But the broader point is the degree to which social media continues to make inroads in shaping opinion, informing citizens, and serving as a tactic in ongoing culture wars.

It all is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: