Social media is defined by its interactivity, connectedness, and user-generated content. In today’s society, the use of social media has become a necessary daily activity. Social media is typically used for social interaction and access to news and information, and decision making. It is a valuable communication tool with others locally and worldwide, as well as to share, create, and spread information. Social media can influence consumer’s purchase decisions through reviews, marketing tactics and advertising. Essentially, social media vastly impacts our ability to communicate, form relationships, access and spread information, and to arrive at the best decision.
Perhaps the most influential social media tool is social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, LinkedIn, and Google + are all familiar names to the large majority of society; active social media user or not. Almost everyone from the ages of 13 to 64 has a Facebook account. These social networking sites can be used to connect people worldwide. This means that business meetings can be conducted internationally via Google Hangouts or old friends can reconnect. For businesses, schools, and various other groups, the communication possibilities are endless.
These social networking sites have increasingly grown beyond personal use. Recently, employers have begun using social networking sites to examine the background of their prospective candidates, as well as to host interviews via Facebook or other social media technology tools. Groups can schedule virtual meetings or brainstorm together even when they can’t physically meet. This eases the scheduling pressures for school projects and board meetings. It goes without saying that we as a society have a grown reliant and dependent on social networking sites. Overall, we rely on social networks for connectivity and primary communication in today’s world.
One of the largest industries that social media has had an effect on is news and journalism. Since, the internet is now the fastest and easiest way to get news, print media is diminishing and publications are being forced to post their articles online. Another effect of this advanced technology is that virtually anyone can now deem themselves a “journalist” and produce news that they feel is accurate and credible. Almost instantly we can create, share, and spread newsworthy or gossip stories across the globe. Social media has only made this easier. Top news stories are being broken via Twitter and other social networking sites and people worldwide are made aware of them almost instantaneously. The power of social media has allowed our society to be much more knowledgeable of worldwide affairs and news.
According to the Nielsen Social Media Report, active social media users have a higher likelihood of being influenced offline. Social media is now beginning to impact its’ users’ decision making processes. Reviews and blogs are posted constantly describing colleges, restaurants, products, companies, etc. Some people have learned to rely on these reviews to make their decisions. For example, Johns Hopkins University created “Hopkins Interactive” which is a social media site designed by current students for prospective students. On this site, prospective students can see the unedited versions of students’ experiences at Hopkins. Prospective students visit this site to get the behind the scenes look of the school and to determine if the school is right for them.
In addition, social media tools have become the new must have tool in the marketing world. Digital and internet marketing are on the rise, and those with no presence on social media will slowly become extinct. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are beginning to rely on social media sites to spread the word about their companies. Internet marketing at this point is almost synonymous with social media because it is almost guaranteed to reach the largest audience and produce the greatest effects. The future of the marketing world promises to be shaped by social media.
The possibilities are seemingly endless for social media. It is uncommon for people to go a day without using or referring to social media. Whether it is used for communicating, learning, or decision making, social media is here to stay and will continue to affect our society.