Genres of web content are produced everyday by people wanting to gain a following or people who are paid to produce content for a company. Still everyone who produces web content have one goal in mind the content is to be accessed by viewers to gain insight on that specific topic or product. There are are two very important genres: social media and electronic commerce. A large portion of the content found on the Web can be classified under one of these two categories. Frances Cairncross claims that communications aspects follow specific trends that can be easily identified. Amid this large list of trends, three of them have roles that can be identified within the previously mentioned web content genres of social media and electronic commerce. These trends, according to Cairncross, can be referred to as ‘fate of location’, ‘improved connections’, and ‘manufacturers as service providers’. The two genres of web content aforementioned, social media and electronic commerce, will be analyzed using Cairncross’s communication trends known as ‘fate of location’, ‘improved connections’, and ‘manufacturers as service providers’ to test the validity of Cairncross’s claims.
The first trend, fate of location, is the claim that location is no longer a deciding factor in most business decisions due to on-line capabilities that enable companies to connect with one another anywhere (Bucy, 2005). This trend is very apparent in the web content genre known as electronic commerce. E-commerce can be classified into three categories: consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business (Straubhaar et al., 2013). A great example of a consumer-to-consumer electronic commerce that is familiar to mostly everyone is eBay. Caincross’s fate of location trend is accurately displayed throughout the use of eBay. Location no longer affects the performance of sales by reason of the Internet. While Cairncross’s ‘fate of location’ trend is very evident within electronic commerce, it may not be so obviously used within the web content genre of social media. Because Cairncross’s explanation of the ‘fate of location’ trend specifically mentions businesses, social media seems to be irrelevant. But this trend is again accurate in describing the developments of social media. Many businesses now rely on social media for much of their promotional aspects. The World Wide Web has enabled these businesses to effectively deliver their messages to consumers regardless of their location. Consumers are susceptible to messages from companies worldwide via social media outlets. Social media also facilitates businesses in reaching their target audiences because there certain are demographic-related patterns apparent in media exposure as a whole.
The second trend being used, ‘improved connections’, is Cairncross’s idea that most people will soon have access to networks that are all switched, interactive, and broadband (Bucy, 2005, p. 7). This concept means that the Internet can be used to connect users with many others, allow all ends of users to communicate equally, and have top-quality reception of content (Bucy, 2005). This trend can seem very broad and thus applicable to both types of web content genres being analyzed. Social media most prominently utilizes all aspects of this trend. The overall theme of social media relies most heavily on networks to be switched and interactive. The World Wide Web is used to connect users with one another, and social media outlets help to facilitate this. Not only does it connect an almost infinite number of users, but those users are also able to interact equally with one another. These connections made via social media can be described as having three important, dependent variables: media attitudes, media choice, and media use (Travino, Webster & Stein, 2000). Each user is likely to make a general subjective evaluation of the media in which he or she is exposed and is thus faced with behavior related to that individual experience (Travino et al., 2000). The user then makes a decision related to the media experience and eventually develops a broad pattern of usage related to the media being used. These variables of media attitudes, choices, and usage are greatly dependent on Cairncross’s ‘improved connections’ trend. The extent to which a social media outlet is switched, interactive, and broadband impacts the users overall media experience and thus, future behaviors related to that experience. Cairncross’s improved connections trend can also be vaguely used to analyze the web content genre of electronic commerce as well. It is expected that sales over the Internet are to be social, interactive, and of the utmost quality. In analyzing both the web content genre of social media as well as electronic commerce, Cairncross’s ‘improved connections’ trend can be used effectively to describe current and upcoming developments.
The third and final communication trend being analyzed is Cairncross’s manufacturers as service providers trend. This trend can best be described as the ability of manufacturers to monitor feedback from consumers regarding their products’ life cycles (Bucy, 2005). Just as the first trend fate of location had an obvious correlation to electronic commerce, so too does the manufacturers as service providers trend. Many people turn to the Internet to see reviews and comments about a product or service before making a purchase. Most manufacturers have websites that allow consumers to view product information as well as make purchases online. Many businesses now rely on social media for much of their promotional aspects. The World Wide Web has enabled these businesses to effectively deliver their messages to consumers regardless of their location. Consumers are susceptible to messages from companies worldwide via social media outlets. Social media also facilitates businesses in reaching their target audiences because there certain are demographic-related patterns apparent in media exposure as a whole (zhao 2013). These websites also generally allow for consumer feedback relating to the company’s products and/or services. Before making a high-involvement purchase of a new car, for example, one may perform extensive research using the feedback provided by others. Not only does this feedback involve the product quality and performance, but it may also include feedback regarding a company’s customer service or business policies. This is where the web content genre of social media is highly incorporated into Cairncross’s manufacturers as service providers trend. Consumers express their opinions on products and services daily via social media networks and can consequently reach thousands of a business or manufacturer’s potential customers in a day. For example, a customer may be very unhappy with a local restaurant’s customer service, and then proceeds to notify others through the social network known as Facebook. Not only is the restaurant likely to be notified of the customer’s negative feedback, but all of the Facebook user’s Internet friends are likely to view this post as well. Accordingly, Cairncross’s manufacturers as service providers trend accurately describes the current and upcoming developments in the web content genres of electronic commerce as well and social media.
Bucy, E. P. (2005). Living in the Information Age, a New Media Reader. (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Straubhaar, J., LaRose, R., & Davenport, L. (2013). Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture,and Technology. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Travino, L. K., Webster J. & Stein E.W. (2000). Making Connections: Complementary Influences on Communication Media Choices Attitudes, and Use. Organization Science.11(2), INFORMS.
Huang, Z., Zhao Huang, & Morad Benyoucef. (07/01/2013). Electronic commerce research and applications: From e-commerce to social commerce: A close look at design features Elsevier. doi:10.1016/j.elerap.2012.12.003