sensationalism in social media and ways to deal with it : SMB Kolkata Chapter

The second edition of the Social Media Breakfast hosted by Twitsnaps at Kolkata dealt with the issue of sensationalism in social media and its possible use in the world of business and other domains.

Sensationalism has always been an integral part of social media in its various forms, according to Shubhankar; he felt that it would always continue to be so. He was supported by Subhojit who says that sensationalism has indeed become an inseparable part of present day social media and networking activities.

To him this phenomenon translates into a tendency to “seek attention”, which is coupled with lack of a proper context and often relevant information.

One of the basic ideas in the second SMBTS was that the primary motive behind sensationalism in social media was seeking eyeballs and getting people to talk with one self. Shubhankar agreed with the idea by saying that sensationalism was a tool to attract attention on Twitter.

Shilpa, the main speaker at the do, also subscribed to his view, saying that sensationalisation helps one to be featured in twitter randomness and also helps to increase the followers.

According to Shilpa, sensationalism had a “shock value” as far as social media was concerned. Her views were supported by Subhojit who said that Tweeple were at times speaking in two ways on Twitter. He highlighted the issue of taking a stance against sensationalism and how people unwittingly often became a part of it.

Shilpa gave several examples in this regard, such as the “Mumbai for All Indians Campaign”. She also talked about the way issues such as “Indian usage of English” and the “Ayodhya Verdict” were handled on Twitter. She said that the aspect of shock value had both a positive as well as a negative impact on the readers and participants in an argument on Twitter.

Shilpa raised a very important question during the discussion – whether sensationalism could be controlled in social media. Shubhankar felt that it was not really possible. According to Ayesha it was up to the individual as to how he or she controlled her behaviour, how responsible they were regarding certain issues.

Ulhas felt that sensationalism was often done in a provoking manner. He highlighted the way a prominent media house broadcast the Ayodhya Verdict, highlighting the various problematic areas.

Sanjib stated that most of them were more interested on seeing others speak rather than talk themselves. The fact that the number of followers or Twitter celebrities was an important aspect of creating sensationalism was yet another important observation by him.

Subhojit felt that a substantial amount of followers was required in order to generate sensationalism on Twitter. Sensationalism is perhaps to Tweeple as entertainment is for people not in the virtual space, he added.

Samudranil asked a very important question – whether sensationalism was indeed necessary in social media to draw people and whether it helped in the long run.

The business aspect was discussed as well with Shubhankar and Sanjib differing on the use of sensationalism to market brands. Srijita stated that sensationalism was indeed not necessary when it came to marketing products on social media.

Shubhankar highlighted the fact that Indians were drawn towards expensive products and said that people always feel that quality is directly proportional to its price. Nitesh stated that sensationalism is important when it came to starting viral marketing on social media.

Somrita summed it up aptly saying sensationalism always helped people to get attention on Twitter or other social networking media. However, Sanjib differed saying content was the king and substance was needed to back the hype up, supporting what Samudranil had asked earlier.

The participants finally asked whether sensationalism could be put to a proper use and decided to partake in a social media exercise to verify the same.

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