How do social media impact our interpersonal communication?
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The main thought that comes to people’s minds when they hear the term social media is a channel through the internet that that enables them to meet, communicate, and form social networks with people from all over the world. Some may also have the perception that social media is primarily a channel that assists in the sending and receiving of information. Others, on the other hand, perceive social media as a way of getting updates on the events and people whom we follow. Social media is primarily defined as applications and websites that enable the users to create, comment on, and share digital content or to be a part of social networking (Clarke 12).
The internet has played an important role in revolutionizing the manner of communication between various parties. The penetration of this communication medium in society and the transfer of data have made it almost impossible to believe that a few years back, people had to wait patiently for days or weeks for letters to reach them. The internet has been paramount in making communication between various parties fast and easy. Social media has many positive impacts, the first being communication. People of this day and age are living in the digital era where the world as a whole is open to everyone.
Social media and other mobile technologies have quickened the rate of relationship development, the sharing of information, and the manner through which influence takes hold in society (Bryfonski 16). It is clear that social media helps to shape world events may they be social, political, or cultural in nature. Websites like Twitter and Facebook have given the masses a new mode to communicate and reach out to society with the assistance of friends and groups of people that have the same ideologies that are being put across. Smartphones and tablets are portable with applications that enable people gain access to their friends no matter where they may be. Social media enables the planning and execution of mass movements like the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring. Other people, on the other hand, have used the platform that social media accords them to gather a multitude, rally crowds, and even formulating movements that have helped topple oppressive political regimes.
Social media has also made it relatively easy for people to interact with others. Not everyone is outgoing enough to take the stem to meet totally new people. Those people who tend to be shy or introverted may find it hard to gather enough courage to approach strangers and make conversation with them. Social media platforms such as Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook have helped in leveling the playing field when it comes to meeting new people. People who are considered to be shy or introverted need not fret since they can easily make friends. They can even amass hundreds of friends regardless of the fact that they may be considered as not having impressive personalities if social media was no part of their lives.
People tend to spend long time frames on the social media platforms mainly because of sharing experiences and information that occurs between people. Friends on sites like Facebook tend to listen and voice their opinions on issues that are being discussed on a certain page. The modern way of life needs communication channels to be lightning fast since the current life is fast moving. Social media has the advantage of being very fast with its instant messaging capabilities. People can comment on various issues, respond to other people’s messages, and even voice an idea in a matter of seconds thus making people from all over the world to be closer despite the miles between them.
Social media is also paramount in increasing the scope of knowledge that an individual that uses such platforms. This increase in information helps in increasing the opportunities that are available to the said individual. Intensive usage of social websites such as Twitter and Facebook results in the increase of a person’s social capital. Before these social websites were created, people depended on channels such as gossip columns on newspapers and magazines to keep abreast the social trends. The creation of social apps and websites has also enabled the people to post status updates on what activities they are engaged in thus acting as a light form of social surveillance. These status messages enable individuals to be aware of their social links thus creating a continuous connection to acquaintances
Individuals in society tend to have an urge to maintain the weak ties they may have with the new friends they make. Sometimes, asking for one’s contacts may be inappropriate depending on the nature of the newly forged relationships. Social media platforms help in creating a channel through which one can keep in contact with such friends due to the idea of creating possible interactions at a future time when necessary. The kind of bonds between family and friends are quite different to the ones shared with one’s weak ties. Social media sites thus enable people to manage a broad network of new friends with weak ties to them and hence bridge social capital.
Social media sites are helpful in making young children interact and learn from other children online. These children socialize with one another, come up with ideas and even receive feedback from others in the same peer group. These young children can amass knowledge and information that is not just passed to them by their parents and teachers. This form of networking between children enables them to be more creative and also have different angles of looking at different situations. These social apps and sites such as Facebook are also paramount in making children relationship-oriented, empathic, kind, and considerate to others. These children tend to remember their acquaintances’ birthdays, comment on their friends’ status, videos, and pictures thus making them improve their social skills in general.
Social media websites are also helpful when mobilizing and coordinating social action in today’s society. Various organizations have managed to influence the masses and mobilize them towards important social causes. Advocacy groups, political leaders, and even non-governmental organizations can rally support to a particular cause through the use of social media platforms. For any group to have its ideologies heard or even have value, it requires support from numerous folk as it can find. A good example is a social website known as Care2.com, which brings together the environmental activists thus rallying them towards enlightening the society of the importance to care for the environment. Such websites can be used to inform the members of upcoming movements such as rallies and protests thus giving the group more social power to influence the society and rally behind their major cause.
Social media has also impacted the way business is conducted in this modern age. Marketing is one such activity that businesses primarily depend on to move the goods and services that the company offers. The platforms of social media like Linkedin, Pinterest, and Facebook are among some of the opportunities available for businesses to attract the customers’ interest as the build the brand image of said companies. There are various ways through which a company can use the social media platforms to advertise their products. One of such methods is through the word of mouth. In Facebook, the companies can create pages to further their brand and a simple “like” of the page by the consumers can create a viral explosion of a brand if many people like the page. Youtube, on the other hand, creates a platform where companies post adverts of their products and the consumers subsequently get a chance to review the videos of different companies’ products and services. These social media apps and websites are paramount in influencing the decisions of consumers to either purchase the goods and services depending on their preference (Tuten, Tracy, and Michael 43).
Another way through which companies can benefit on social media is using the platforms to manage customer relationships. Companies can have real-time connections to the internet with both potential and currently existing customers. These platforms can help the companies relay information about its brand and products. A company’s frequent presence on the social media platforms and the amount of engagements it has with the target market helps it gain an advantage over its competition since it would portray a greater product reputation and create better customer satisfaction.
The available social media platforms also assist in making communication both easy and efficient between companies and the consumers. Instead of using letters, making telephone calls, or even sending emails, both the consumers and the company’s support team can communicate on the profile page of the company in social media platforms such as Facebook. These platforms help both the customers and the company in that the consumer upon sending a message or complain about a certain issue on the company profile would get a quicker feedback than they generally would on other channels of communication. The companies, on the other hand, have a quick response time to the posts by the customers because quick responses tend to improve the reputation of the company and foster brand loyalty.
Social media also acts as a platform where companies can look for potential recruits. Sites such as Linkedin can help companies get few people with certain qualifications that are required for a particular job description that the company can call for an interview. This channel can help with efficiency since it is less time consuming compared to the traditional method of recruiting where the human resource staff has to go through piles of resumes to shortlist potential candidates to call for an interview.
Social media is also paramount in controlling the cost of running a business, especially when considering start-ups with little financial muscle. These platforms are also cheap channels to market goods and services to millions of people. The use of these social media platforms can help minimize the cost of running departments such as marketing, sales, and customer relations.
In conclusion, social media continues to influence our personal lives, how people relate to one another, the way business is conducted, and creating awareness in the society at large. Social media shapes the way the way we engage and share information with others while growing at a rapid pace.
Bryfonski, Dedria. The Global Impact of Social Media. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven, 2012. Print.
Clarke, Amanda. Social Media. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2010. Print.
Tuten, Tracy L., and Michael R. Solomon. Social Media Marketing. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.
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