It is hard to figure out the extent of change we have experienced in our life without stopping for a moment and looking at how things were different five or ten years ago. Social media has had a significant impact on our daily lives in the recent past years. Most people at the beginning of the millennium couldn’t have even imagined the global conversations that have been enabled due to Twitter and Facebook.
The Social media websites and tools have critically impacted our lives and also how we interact with the rest of the world. Below are some ways in which the social media has impacted our lives.
[divider]Where We Get Our News[divider]
Most of us not get our news from our Facebook news feed or Twitter tweets before going on to read about them on a newspaper or see it on a new channel. We tend to know more about what’s happening in the world through the articles and news stories are friends are sharing on their profiles. Even traditional news organizations have now adapted to the social media and how news is delivered and received has been changed drastically.
Our social media friends are increasingly becoming a more trusted source of information, even more than even search engines. The whole concept of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing is being expanded through the social media friends circle. Mark Cuban, ta successful teach bloggers recently said, “For the 1st time ever, more people are finding my blog from Twitter and Facebook referrals than via Google.”
This doesn’t mean that the importance of search engines has gone down. Most people still use RSS feeds to stay updated on blogs and publications of their interest, but there has been a significant expansion in our list of sources which are worthy of attention. News now is more social than it ever was.
[divider]How Business are started and done[divider]
Starting and launching a business today is easier than ever, much to the credit of social media. Not only do interest focuses Facebook groups, searches on Twitter, Linked in connections help us locate potential employees and collaborators but also social media provides a promotion mechanism for people who have little money for advertising.
It was quoted in a recent New York Times article that , “For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing.”
Businesses in the past were conducted generally with those who were in one’s immediate circles. Social media, however, with tweeting to blogging to YouTube videos, has opened up new and unique possibilities for clients as well as customers. Small businesses have specifically benefited from social media and how we promote our business and who we do business with has moved increasingly online.
[divider]How We Meet People and Stay in Touch[divider]
Certainly, people still do meet through the traditional social venues, but it has become significantly easier to discover people with common interests with social media, whether by following people on Twitter or through interest focused Facebook groups. Social Media has made it much easier to find people to talk about on a myriad range of subjects.
Also, social media has helped people to stay in touch with old, and new, acquaintances and friends and to be more connected to the. Studies show that in the last year our time on social media sites has nearly tripled and although Facebook was the primary tool for staying connected with people and catching up with friends, Twitter is now also being used increasingly to keep in touch with friends.
In simple friends, social media is being used to form new relationships and to maintain and further old friendships.
[divider]What We Reveal[divider]
Communication between people was traditionally seen as one which doesn’t reveal their doubts and fear. The goal was to present one’s self as always in control. This is changing significantly due to social media. People are becoming more transparent with their feelings and thoughts, to reveal more of their humanness.
We now have people who look confident acknowledging that they do get nervous when speaking at times. CEOs being more frank and honest and at times using their blogs to rant their own grievances, and people speaking up about their personal views on political and social issues. Obviously, the terrain of what we decide to reveal and what not is a rather delicate one and there will always be things we decide to keep private. However, social media is working to make people more transparent rather than make them hide their feelings and thoughts.
[divider]What We Can Influence[divider]
Conventionally, it was TV programming such as Oprah that attracted millions of viewers and big publications like New York Times which was read globally. Although these large media outlets still grab our attention, social media is making this power more widespread. Public opinion is no longer being driven solely by the so called mainstream media.
Some individuals on Youtube and Twitter have a million or more followers, there are Facebook pages with hundreds and thousands of like and blog posts, video and articles that go viral each day. A major chunk of this content is coming from regular people rather than by corporate media organizations.
Even if our Twitter followers, Facebook friends of blog subscribers amount to a small number, the communication channels of an average people still are more fluid and open. As these information sharing and amplifying networks strengthen, each person’s ability to influence public policies and opinion increases. Rather than making us passive bystanders, the social media makes us participants in a global discourse and gives us a voice on matters of importance. Look at the example of the Arab Spring. It was through the social media channels that these protesters were able to organize, and protest and have a substantial effect on their regimes.
Cultures in all eras have gone through numerous changes and in recent years this cultural change has been especially driven by social media. Corporate media companies will not go away in minutes, nor would the communication through phone and by real life interactions, but social media is giving us a new channel of engaging with people. If used for the better, it can give us a better choice in how we live and what happens in the world.