Social media are platforms that people use to connect all over the world to share and communicate. The platforms can be used to connect families, professionals, friends, people with the same beliefs, and all other concepts that can bring people together with a commonality.
The main types of social media are social networks, audio, and video sharing, discussion forums, messaging, image sharing, and professional platforms. These platforms have influenced all aspects of modern life. They have changed how people spend their time in social, business, and economical life.
Uses of social media
The media are used to communicate between individuals or companies. Companies can post information that their client requires and they can get feedback from the customers.
Newsroom and daily newspapers can post the latest news on social media even before they are printed and distributed. Generally, social media can be used for communication both for good and bad depending on who accesses the information posted.
Chatting is a type of communication that happens in real-time. It can either be text-based, video and or audio. Most platforms offer text chat which is the most common type of chatting method around. Other platforms incorporate video chat where users can able to chat by connecting the webcam and users can have a visual of the other person they are communicating with.
Today, selling a product online has become easy thanks to social media. What you need is to have a social media account with followers and you just post your product and wait for the interested client to contact you for the product. Companies have made social media marketing a major marketing avenue because most people are on social media and the probability of making a sale is high.
From big multinational companies to home-based businesses all are on social media for marketing. Some companies have even employed personnel to solely manage the company account to ensure maximum return from the platform.
One main shortcoming with this marketing is that there are so many scams on the internet that customers shy away from products or companies that don’t have a reputation for good service. Most people will buy from a company that they know well.
Customer care support
Customer care centers have been moved to social media where customers can give feedback or get assistance from the company’s social page. Also, companies post information about different products, promotions, new products, and any changes in company policies that the company wants to communicate to the customer.
From the customer feedback on social media, organizations can decide to change the product or improve it to meet customer needs. Social media provide quick feedback.
This ensures that the customer can get help anytime from anywhere as long as they can be able to access the internet.
News today comes first on social media even before it is broadcasted in the mainstream media like TV or radio. This is because social media has made everybody a reporter. What people need to do is just take a picture, or a video of the scene, and post it on social media.
This has made the world to be a global village where if something happens in one corner of the ‘village’ world then you can get an update of what is happening has it happen.
This makes most information to be available to the public which means even things that are private to people can end up on social media for everybody to see. Some of the information posted is not suitable for everybody like children but when they are posted even those children can access it which degrades the morale of society.
Types of social media
- Social networks: These are the most common type and they mostly target connecting users for general interactions. Facebook and Twitter can be classified as a social network
- Video sharing platforms: these are platforms that specialize in video content. Users can upload videos and share them with an audience who can comment on the video content. Examples are YouTube and TikTok.
- Audio content sharing: These social media, specializes in audio content only. An example is Spotify and Twitter space which is part of Twitter.
- Professional platform: These are a platform that mostly attracts professional in a different area. Users can upload their credentials and employer can use the platform to contact them. LinkedIn and Twitter can be categorized as professional platforms.
- Discussion forums: In these platforms, any user can start a discussion about a particular topic and other members can give input. They are met for discussion. The most common example is Quora and Reddit.
- Images and media sharing: These are social media that most major in sharing of images. Snapchat and Instagram are the most common.
- Messaging platforms: They are mostly used for private messaging. Users can create groups for easy communication. WhatsApp and Telegram are the most common messaging applications
Examples of Social media networks
Positive impacts of social media
With increased penetration of the internet and connectivity in the world, the cost of communication has reduced. Communication has become fast, reliable and at the same time cheap. Social network platforms have enhanced communication by connecting users who have some commonality in whatever they are doing, may it be in professional life, social or even family. Users can chat online through text, audio, and even video which as enhance the general delivery of message over the internet.
B) Online marketing
Most social network platforms offer marketing tools that a company or a user can use to create or advertise their product. Some services are for a fee while others can be done freely. Also using the platform a user can share a link that can direct the user/ customer to their website that offers a certain product that they are selling.
C) Create a global village
Today anything that is happening in any corner of the world can be transmitted to the world in real-time or updated of what is happening as it happens. This has made the world seem small just like a village where each person knows what the neighbor next door is doing. This has helped people from one corner of the world to learn about the culture, religion, and traditions of other communities even if they have never been to that place.
Negative impacts of social media
With cheap internet connectivity and portable devices that people can carry anywhere anytime, many users find themselves glued to the gadget. The gadgets have become part of their life to the point that they cannot do without them.
They move from using the social platforms from the computers when at the office or school and then switch to mobile phones when they are in places where computers cannot be accessed.
This has led to reduced productivity in the office to the point that organizations today are including social media access restrictions in their ICT policy to ensure that employees don’t steal company time.
B) Psychological abuse
There have been cases of teenagers committing suicide because of the bullying that started on social media. They are abused psychologically to the point that they see themselves as worthless hence they take their own life.
Also, there have been cases of ladies being raped by someone supposedly they met on social media. These cases are increasing and users should be educated on how to deal with these issues when they happen and how to protect them from being victims.
C) Reduce employee productivity
Many employees have social network platforms accounts and when they are bored or because they are addicted to the platform they find themselves accessing these platforms even during working hours. This reduces productivity because instead of concentrating on company work they are chatting with their friend on the internet. If the situation is left unchecked it can reduce productivity to the point of the company making losses.
D) Privacy issues
Today even the simple feature mobile phone has a digital camera that can be used to capture both still and video images which can end up on social media. Imagine you are out with your friend enjoying yourselves then one of your friends takes a picture/video of you at your worst and then the next day you find it on the internet.
That was the last thing that you expected when you went out but there you are, pictures/videos of you to the whole world to see how you behave and look at your worst moment.
One thing with any information or material that finds its way to the internet it becomes very hard to completely remove it. This is because by the time you remove someone has already downloaded it and they can upload it to the internet again anytime they feel like it.
Remember internet never forgets.
E) Information overload
Social platforms are made up of all types of characters good, bad, and ugly. These people can post anything without caring how you will react when you read it. This type of setting means there is so much information that you will find on the internet and social media that you don’t need to know.
The best skill any person who is using social media can learn is how to filter what is important from the information available. We can view the internet and social media as a fire, use it well you thrive, use it in the wrong way it burns you.