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  • Writer's pictureSantiago Garcia

Social Media is a By-product of Sociotechnical Design

In human-computer interaction, the connection between the user, society, and technology is becoming increasingly indiscernible. It is nearly impossible to engage with user-centered design without having to consider the societal factors that participate in the process. This concept, where societal expectations and desires are prioritized above personal, operational or technical needs, is called sociotechnical design.

Sociotechnical designs are most prevalent in social media, where likes, comments, and shares equate to status and monetary value. More than ever, there is a corporate push to collect as much data as possible, and to empower their users to interact with their content. Whatever the user likes, comments, or views is creating a demographic profile, and businesses are able to use these profiles to market their brand. Further, every post a user makes with reference to that company, trend, or product serves as an advertisement for that respective product or trend. Social media as a means of marketing is highly effective, 99% of users wish to maximize likes, create impressions on their audience, and grow a following. These users are taking cues from those they follow, how they act, what they are posting, and how they’re building their profile. The idea that people think, say and act in accordance with those around them is called social proofing. The business and corporate sectors leverage this psychological phenomenon to target niches of customers, by placing advertisements in their news feed that align with their demographic profile.

The United States Air Force could use sociotechnical design in their social media platforms to streamline the recruiting process and target the right candidates. Channeling our best advertisements (videos/images featuring fighter jets, the parachute team, and all of the amazing opportunities a career in the Air Force can afford) to those users who post with positive hashtags, who are liking the ‘right’ things, and sharing content that is contributing to society can reduce the frequency of poor character across the Air Force later down the road. Using social media demographic profiles to target the optimal candidates for the military will ensure funds are being allocated to the appropriate audience, and with a specific purpose.

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