Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. While challenges to the definition of social media arise due to the variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available, there are some common features:
- Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications.
- User-generated content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions is the lifeblood of social media.
- Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
- Social media helps the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.
Social Media and Business
Since the turn of the century, social media marketing has become a focal point of the advertising and marketing campaigns of companies both large and small worldwide. Communicating with existing and potential customers through social media offers numerous advantages to businesses.
First, compared to traditional avenues of advertising, social media marketing is much less expensive. The costs for social media marketing often involve only the creation of advertising content and the compensation for the employees charged with posting material on the various social media websites.
Second, businesses can instantly communicate information to their entire database of current and/or potential customers. They also have the ability to tailor advertising to certain demographic groups and then communicate that content only to the targeted customer segment.
The ease of connection and communication through social media platforms enables companies to much more deeply and effectively engage with their target market. They can converse with customers at length and in-depth, obtaining valuable feedback about their company and its products and services, and then use the feedback obtained to craft future marketing campaigns. Through social media sites, a company can also provide its customers with easy access to customer service, 24/7.
Social media makes it possible for companies to “humanize” their company and to much more quickly and easily build, establish, and maintain their brand identity and public image.
Types of Social Media
Social media may take the form of a variety of tech-enabled activities. These activities include photo sharing, blogging, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, business networks, virtual worlds, reviews, and much more. Even governments and politicians utilize social media to engage with constituents and voters.
For individuals, social media is used to keep in touch with friends and extended family. Some people will use various social media applications to network career opportunities, find people across the globe with like-minded interests, and share their thoughts, feelings, insights, and emotions. Those who engage in these activities are part of a virtual social network.
For businesses, social media is an indispensable tool. Companies use the platform to find and engage with customers, drive sales through advertising and promotion, gauge consumer trends, and offer customer service or support.
Social media’s role in helping businesses is significant. It facilitates communication with customers, enabling the melding of social interactions on e-commerce sites. Its ability to collect information helps focus on marketing efforts and market research. It helps in promoting products and services, as it enables the distribution of targeted, timely, and exclusive sales and coupons to would-be customers. Further, social media can help in building customer relationships through loyalty programs linked to social media.
Benefits of Social Media
Social media has changed the way we all interact with each other online. It gives us the ability to discover what’s happening in the world in real-time, to connect with each other and stay in touch with long-distance friends, and in order to have access to endless amounts of information at our fingertips. In many senses, social media has helped many individuals find common ground with others online, making the world seem more approachable.
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, the use of social media is correlated with having more friends and more diverse personal networks, especially within emerging economies.6 For many teenagers, friendships can start virtually, with 57% of teens meeting a friend online.
Businesses are also using social media marketing to target their consumers right on their phones and computers, building a following in order to build a loyal fan base, and create a culture behind their own brand. Some companies, such as Denny’s, have created entire personas on Twitter in order to market to younger consumers using their own language and personas.
The Dangers Posed by Social Media Platforms
Social media has exploded in popularity, among all types of people, all across the world. In the developed world and emerging market countries, nearly everyone is a user of at least one social media platform. However, social media’s widespread adoption and use have created significant new threats to things such as people’s privacy and mental health.
Recent studies by psychologists have uncovered the facts that people engaging with others through social media has led to measurable increases in depression, stress/anxiety, suicides (especially among young people), and problems of low self-esteem.
In addition to the threats posed to our mental health, the widespread use of social media has also created and/or amplified threats of a more practical, tangible nature such as stalking, identity theft, invasion of privacy, and political and social polarization.
The very real and substantive potential dangers posed by social media are even the subject of two recently-released Netflix original movies “The Social Dilemma” and “The Great Hack.” The subject explored in the 2019 documentary, “The Great Hack”, is the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Social media landscape shows how media’s world is divided and which particular media platforms are reigning supreme in the digital world at this moment.
Social media landscape
Connecting with customers and potential customers positively impacts your relationship with customers, as well as increases brand loyalty.
It is beneficial to build a presence online that is communicative, connects with your customers, shares your content and highlights your skills through the different platforms of social media.
The social media landscape is constantly growing, changing and improving. Is your business present and active in the social media landscape?
It is an area of marketing that you should definitely start exploring. Being able to engage with your followers puts you at a huge advantage over your competitors.
Simply it’s the social “ecosystem” where we can distinguish tools for:
- Publishing (with blog platforms),
- Sharing (videos or music platforms),
- Discussing (like quora and comment platforms),
- Messaging (mobile, visual and webmails)
- And networking (with dating and meeting platforms)