It was that long ago that we still wrote to each other and waited for a reply, 15 years ago email wasn’t that common and 10 years ago there was no Facebook or Twitter!
In general social media has had a positive effect on society, it’s easier to communicate with friends and family, especially if there is considerable distance between you, now businesses are joinging in the fun and giving more informal access to the world to their products and services.
If you are prepared to put in the effort (well about 5 minutes work for most social media sites)you can set up a profile, you can decide whether its private or open for everyone to see. You can search for and contact people you haven’t seen for 20 years and make connections with old school or work friends that previously would have been lost.
Taking, sending and receiving photos and images is now effectively instant and just as importantly free of charge, keeping family members and friends up to date with family occasions is simple and makes everyone feel included 95 year old great grandparents can access the facebook timeline of their 13 year old great grand children (assuming they want to).
Gap year travellers to the furthest reaches of the world can itemize their itinerary and add photos videos and share with just their friends and family or to the world as a whole.
Effectively it is like being a part of that person’s world, even though distance keeps you apart.
Social Media has helped create and maintain the celebrity status of some high profile individuals for who having 40million followers or friends is common place. Social Media gives people access to those individuals, some use this power to abuse or to post images of what they had for lunch, but many use it to genuinely keep up to date with the favourite stars, in much the same way as they would of 30 years ago in a Fan Club, of course then there was information every month or quarter in a newsletter and now it can be every hour.
Social media has made it possible for like minded individuals to discuss important topics, widen their personal knowledge and discover things they never knew before. Young people are now more involved in social movements and politics. Social Media had a major effect s The last presidential elections in the US are proof of that. Social media has contributed to that increase in a big way.
In addition to keeping closer with our families, friends and celebrities we can now follow or like our favourite businesses, and effectively offer referrals free of charge. These interactions tell the businesses what they expect from their brands. Businesses can then use that information to tailor their products to be of more appeal. This is an amazing opportunity for businesses as they used to have to spend a lot of money for this kind of marketing data.
Customers used to have to spend hours on phones getting more and more frustrated when they had a problem or complaint. It is now much easier to maintain a dialogue with a business and customer service can now be received instantly whilst sitting at home watching TV.
Non-profits and good causes are also utilising the benefits of using social media for their awareness campaigns. Sites like Facebook and Twitter give the option of liking and sharing, the multiples of which can be huge and a ‘viral’ campaign can access millions with little cost.
Overall I think it’s fair to say that social media is here to stay, the positives outweigh the negatives and if you are not using social media to promote and enhance your businesses internet presence then you are missing out on an opportunity, don’t wait until you are too far behind to join in.