CT&D #77. Documentary Production: Analyzing a Graduate Thesis

Below is my analysis on a sample thesis abstract by a college student covering social media misuse (no link is available to view it however):

Having read through this abstract, I immediately identified the student’s thesis statement. The thesis can be paraphrased as the issue of social media not being properly utilized by businesses and organizations for legitimate statistical purposes to further profits.

Some of the side questions that the abstract raises include:

  • What are the barriers of social media that prevents it from becoming sought after as a tool?
  • What stigma or why is there such associated with social media that makes it the target of “superficial” and / or “token” use? and
  • What specific information is being kept away from the public through social media that is preventing businesses from gaining a foothold on a market?

If this student was my thesis partner, I would utilize my concentration as a digital media student to produce a documentary on this matter. Given the amount of educating the student intends to show about social media use / misuse in the corporate world, it would make sense to conduct interviews with the people who decide what aspects of it make the cut and what doesn’t pass during the course of a company’s daily / weekly workflow. This and gathering why attitudes towards it are perceived as risky with a juxtaposition of interviews supporting the opposite viewpoint needs to be emphasized: social media strategists especially (or those who specialize in marketing, online branding, blogging) if present in a business would effectively communicate their personal and professional stances on social media business use and ideas for such to help argue a case in favor of the student (and perhaps against amongst some who oppose it outright).

As my concentration is in digital video production, I can definitely envision an idea for producing this thesis by having a faux marketing campaign be done to spur public interest in gathering information on social media to help in part answer the questions raised in the bullet points.

One such way could be filming the behavior of various online participants visiting sites such as Facebook and Twitter; there, the users would be shown posts (generated and branded by the student) covering sports, politics, bizarre stories, etc. The total number of posts for each would be then evaluated, as well as the time spent consuming information, and looked at as evidence for how social media encourages the consumption and spreading of news altogether through commenting in a targeted community, big or small, and local or not.

A second method could have the student create fake ads (as graphics and even videos) and have them posted to the aforementioned social media sites through various iterations: a different image for each accompanied by a different tagline (or #hashtag) on a fake social media page. The resulting response should indicate whether or not the “proposed product” (not a real one, as it would be hard to pull off “advertising” for) receives positive, negative, very little or a lot of attention. Resulting from this experiment, businesses should be swayed one way or another to take a look at the power of marketing and creating content online for an audience via a social media platform. Plus, with this and the above example, participants can be questioned about how effective an ad or particular post was in capturing interest, however successful or not they were.

Finally, a third method could involve producing a series of videos featuring an entertainer who’s aim is to present mainstream or niche information and perform it in a specific and engaging manner (to the extent that it would go viral). The goal here would be to further show the usefulness of exposure in branding and building a dedicated following through social media with just small production team. This should startle and encourage larger-scale companies to follow suit in using social media platforms (such as YouTube and Vimeo) to strengthen their brands perhaps via quirky advertising, let alone advertising at all online through Internet Television.

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