The Double-Edged Sword of Social Media

August 10, 2013  |  By Pam Johnson, United States

The Double-Edged Sword of Social Media

Photo : lusi/

Social media is shorthand for the multitude of ways in which people can interact and exchange data in virtual environments. Many technology experts claim that social media capitalises on the advances of Web 2.0 to facilitate the dissemination and assimilation of user-generated communications. In other words, social media employs websites beyond the static pages of the earliest websites and helps users connect with one another in real time.

Social Media on the Rise
According to recent research, internet users spend almost half of their online time frequenting social media websites, such as Facebook and Tumblr. In addition, the last year has witnessed a three-fold increase in PC and mobile users moving towards social media. These upticks in the number of social media users influences the ways in which content is marketed as well as how people interact with one another.

Types of Social Media
Facebook might be the premier social media website. In fact, in October 2012 Facebook reached a record-setting one billion users. The forms of social media, however, far surpass Facebook's relatively formulaic design. Today's social media includes podcasts, micro-blogging, social blogs, internet forums and crowdsourcing.

Social Media's Clout
Social media websites like DailyMotion and YouTube showcase how robust content communities can become, and sites like Twitter demonstrate the possibilities birthed from technical limitation. That is, Twitter is a social networking site that caps the limit in each post to 140 characters. Nonetheless, Twitter can in many respects be credited for toppling repressing regimes during the Arab Spring uprisings.

Companies Rely on Social Media
Companies have transitioned from viewing social media as a niche pastime to seeing it as a constructive route to building a company's reputation and enhancing employment opportunities. In addition, many companies seek to expand their consumer base and annual earnings by reaching larger audiences. With over one billion active users on Facebook, companies around the world are capitalising on a distillation of young people perhaps eager to invest in certain products. This strategy makes sense in light of the finding that retaining an old customer is far cheaper than luring a new one into one's company.

Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword
Recent research shows that a staggering 27% of time online is spent on social media websites. With that said, these findings are not necessarily bad. While social media can contribute to wasting time at work, sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are increasingly employed for social networking and beneficial ends. The advent of mobile devises compatible with social media, moreover, has contributed to the rise of social media in the United States.

Business Model of Social Media
Many companies are looking to social media as a means of expanding their consumer base. Social media is now employed for market research, sales offers and communications. Data can more easily be tracked with social media, which facilitates more specialised discounts and more symbiotic loyalty programmes. The future for social media looks bright, and its possibilities on Web 2.0 are only limited by human imagination.

Author Pam Johnson is a family counsellor who tries to help families bond despite the difficulty with face to face interaction that social media poses. She obtained her degree from one of the best Online Marriage and Family Counseling Degree Programmes



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