Social media is a collection of online communication channels focused on creating a social space online for people to use. Whether you want to get involved with online discussions or share holiday highlights, social media has something for everyone.
The variety of social media platforms out there means that it has become hugely popular in today's culture. What started with online forums and blogs has grown into video and photo sharing – now the average person spends nearly 2 hours a day on social media.
Social media is typically used for social interaction and access to news and information, and decision making. It is a valuable communication tool both locally and worldwide, as well as allowing people to share, create, and spread information. Social media impacts our ability to communicate, form relationships, access and spread information, and to arrive at the best decision.
Perhaps the most influential social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – almost everyone from the ages of 13 to 64 has a Facebook account. This level of popularity means that the communication possibilities are endless.
How is Social Media Relevant to Business?
Social media has increasingly moved beyond personal use, the platforms are used in business too.
- Customer relations: Just like you can use social media to keep in touch with your loved ones, businesses can use it to build a strong relationship with their customers, both locally and globally, as well as creating a healthy workforce through employee/employer relations.
- Marketing: As traditional forms of marketing and promotion have become less effective, businesses can use social media in order to increase their exposure to potential customers, and therefore increase their audience. For example, brands using influential people such as reality stars and celebrities to endorse their products with sponsored social media posts. People can be highly influenced by what their favourite celebrities use, so brands use this technique for promotion.
- Business-focused platforms: As well as businesses using the traditional forms of social media to increase their exposure and maintain good customer relations, there are social media platforms out there specifically for businesses. LinkedIn is the most established example of this. Set up in 2003, the site is used for professional networking where employers can post job roles and job seekers can share their CVs – a social network for the professional side of life.
- Reviews: Social media can influence consumer's purchase decisions through reviews, marketing tactics and advertising. So even after you've dealt with a customer, the importance of social media cannot be stressed enough – people talk, and this level of communication can both help and hinder a company.
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 your 9 to 5 life, or keeping up with family and friends, social media is here to stay and will continue to affect our society from all angles.