Reading through this abstract, I immediately identify the student’s thesis statement. I can paraphrase this as the issue of social media not being properly utilized by businesses and organizations for legitimate statistical purposes.
Some of the side questions that the abstract raises include: What are the barriers of social media that prevents it from becoming sought as a tool? What stigma or why is there such associated with social media that makes it the target of “superficial” and “tokenistic” use? and What specific information is being kept away from the public?
If this author is my thesis partner, I would utilize my concentration as a digital video student to produce a documentary on this matter. Given the amount of educating the student intends to show about social media use, it would make sense to conduct interviews with the people who decide what aspects of it makes the cut and what passes. This and gathering why attitudes toward it are looked down as risky with a juxtaposition of interviews supporting the opposite: social media strategists (or those who specialize in marketing, online branding, blogging) would effectively communicate these viewpoints and ideas to argue a case in favor of the student (or perhaps against amongst some who oppose).
Being a digital video student, I definitely envision an idea for producing this thesis in having a marketing campaign be done to spur interest in the public gathering information on social media. One such way would be filming various online participants to go on 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 and looked at as evidence for how social media encourages the spread of news (to a point where new stations will consider reshaping their newscasts around topics that people express interest for).
A second method would be for the student to create a “fake” ad and to post it on the aforementioned social media sites in various iterations: a different image for each and a different tagline (or #hashtag). The resulting response should indicate whether or not the “product” receives positive, negative, very little or a lot of attention. Businesses who believe others should take notes of this part of the documentary.
Finally, a third method would 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 show the exposure in branding and building a dedicated following for a small production team. This should startle and encourage larger-scale companies to follow suit in using social media (i.e. YouTube) to strengthen their brands (perhaps via quirky advertising let alone advertising at all on a social media platform).