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Effects of Social Media

18 Jun, 2014 McKell Naegle

Social media has provided many opportunities for people to connect to friends, family, coworkers, and old acquaintances. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and MySpace allow users to belong to a larger community by providing easy casual connections. However, these connections are not always a good thing. There have been many documented issues with social media and its affects on people. And while social media provides marketing and other opportunities for your business, but there are some drawbacks as well.


Let’s start out with the good aspects of social media. Social media is a great way to spread information. In fact, it is currently the fastest way to spread information. Almost every news source has an account with updates. Often times, news breaks on social media before a news team can arrive on scene. Also, social media is the primary news source for about 30% of Americans. It ranks just behind newspapers and above radio.


Social media can also help improve relationships and allow users to make new friends. It can help users connect and communicate with friends and family. Increased communication can and usually leads to stronger relationships. Also, social media can lead to new friends through connections with mutual friends. In addition to better relationships and new friends, social media can also lead to better grades for students, thanks to the ability to easily communicate with fellow students and discuss educational topics.


Social media can also empower groups and communities by allowing users to get easily involved. Often times, Facebook and Twitter show you things that are geographically targeted. It provides a way to learn of activities that you may not know about through a user’s friends and community. Also, social media is great for crowdsourcing and funding. There are many users that allow news and information to spread very quickly. Allowing involvement in a project, organization, or community to gain quick growth and support.


Social media offers many benefits for your business. Social media sites provide a free platform to connect with customers. This increases your business’s visibility, and is a great way to market current promotions, your brand, and business overall. Almost all major companies are using social media, and most have reported many benefits. It provides many opportunities to market and advertise your business and should not be passed up.


Now it’s time to touch on the negative effects of social media on society. While it is great for spreading information, it is not always accurate and dependable. There have been cases where false information has been spread, causing school closures, false reports from news media, and flooding emergency response outlets with the news. One of the biggest cases occurred when CNN and the Weather Channel shared false information from social media and later had to retract the statement. While social media is great for spreading information fast, it is not always accurate. Make sure you investigate all news yourself, and don’t just believe everything you read.

Social media has also caused people to spend less and less time interacting face to face. While it great that it is allowing people to connect with others easily, many people are keeping the relationships online and meeting less in person. This is seen as a major problem because people are losing the social skills required in the workplace and everyday life. Social media has also been a major contributor to cyber bullying. Bullies no longer have to confront someone face to face; it can now be done behind a computer screen where many of the risks are taken away. Overuse and dependency on social media sites for friend groups and connections helps lead to lack of actual face-to-face interaction and can eventually lead to social isolation.


Another major issue is the lack of privacy with social media. Many users either do not set or do not know who to set privacy settings on their account. Corporations often scan those pages to see what consumers like and proceed to market to consumers based off of that information. Also, the government combs through the unprotected pages to get information about people. (The IRS and Justice Department are the main offenders.) Also, employers often look at candidates’ profiles before hiring. The biggest concerns among recruiters are posts and pictures involving profanity, poor spelling and grammar, drugs and alcohol, sexual content, and religious content. Set your profiles to the highest security and privacy settings; it can only help you.


Social media can also lead to a lack of productivity in the workplace and school settings. The distraction new posts or notifications cause can be substantial, and sometimes cause employees and students to lose focus for hours. In the workplace, it really jeopardizes the efficiency of the business, as workers will not be focused as long, leading to less production. In school settings, it can lead to bad grades and the development of shorter attention spans.


Regarding the marketing of your business, most of the concerns have to do with privacy. When users like your page or post, your business is given more information about them even if the user doesn’t approve or know. This is usually the issue most people have with businesses’ advertising.


With all of that said, social media sites are still great tools for your business. Be sure to respect other users’ privacy. Also, make as much meaningful connections as possible, but encourage customers to visit your business in person so you get the face-to-face connection as well. Social media has had many effects on society and some have been good while some were bad. It is ultimately up to you to decide how it will affect you and your business.

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