International Communications and Social Media

Intercultural Context

New media most commonly refers to content available on-demand through the Internet, accessible on any digital device, usually containing interactive user feedback and creative participation that include websites, online newspapers, blogs, or wikis, video games, and social media.

With its distinctive features new media has brought human society to a highly interconnected and complex level. It influences the form and content of information/messages, it affects how people understand each other, especially for those from different cultural group and ethnic groups. It creates a continuity gap between generations even from the same culture.

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, blogs, YouTube, and Twitter, have enabled people from every part of the world to express and represent themselves and stay connected online. For international students, expatriates, and migrants, social media help them connect with people in both their home and host countries, at the same time help them cope with cultural
barriers in the process of integrating into the new culture. Social media has created a new hybrid culture that gather cultural and social information from different countries, and formed many different form of intercultural relationships.

Globalization

With globalization, companies have to deal with consumers with different background on new media platforms. Social Media is one of the most popular new media communication strategy. In some area, social media has become more powerful in influencing consumer purchase decision than the traditional marketing tool. The problem is that many companies seem to use a “one size fits all” global online communication strategy for all countries and cultures.

Cultural differences are important elements to consider when communicating across cultures on social media, and companies need to consider them before engaging in intercultural online communication. Companies cannot apply the same methods in delivering their contents in each country. Companies cannot use the same social media channel in delivering their contents in each country either. The way each country adopts and use social media is different. For example: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the most popular social media in Latin America. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook Messenger are the most popular social media in Indonesia respectively. In Singapore, WhatsApp as the most popular social network followed by LINE and WeChat. According to Social Media Statistics Australia – August 2015, the most popular social media in Australia are Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, and Instagram.

Companies need to balance the relationships among a corporate brand, online communication and intercultural communication.

International Communication Teaching and Learning

International Communication studies in general covers communication management, digital communication and media as part of preparing the students to become communication professionals who are able to adapt in a field that is constantly on the move.

One of the most important thing in new media channel is social media. Social media has become an ingrained part of today’s society. Students are constantly on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. As a teacher, integrating social media into the lessons can be the initial introduction for the students to become familiar with the dynamic of international communication on the new media platform. From an industry perspective, graduates must have knowledge and understanding of how to use social media for business purposes.

We can do so much with social media on teaching and learning. Twitter offers a quick way to post announcements and reminder or track information on a topic. You can create WhatsApp group or Facebook Closed group to post lessons updates, announcements, photos, and video used in a class. Instagram can showcase student works or share their cross cultural moments. Get students to create their own material on Youtube. Use blogs for students to practice their writing, share experiences, give comments and reactions. As their work becomes part of the greater World Wide Web, students are motivated to carefully consider their language, spelling, and grammar and avoid plagiarism.

Of course there are concerns about privacy, both for teachers and students, and about maintaining the class as a private space for free and open discussion. Strict guidelines on school’s social media policy need to be applied .