Over the last 20 years, information and communication technology has evolved significantly, with the introduction of social media being a key development.
The speed of change is quickening. The evolution of mobile technology, for example, has had a significant impact on the impact of social media. In terms of overall minutes spent online, mobile devices rule the world. They gave everyone the ability to connect from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
What Motivates People to Share Information?
The motivations that participants identified for sharing information on social media were exposed in a fascinating study by the New York Times Consumer Insight Group. These include the urge to provide people with useful and amusing material, to define themselves, to establish and nourish connections, and to spread the word about brands and causes they like or support.
As a result of these causes, social networks have progressed from being a convenient way to keep in touch with friends and family to being used in ways that have a significant impact on society.
Social media’s influence is being utilised to change politics, business, international culture, education, careers, and innovation, among other things.
Social Media’s Influence
1. The Political Impact of Social Media
According to a new Pew Research study, nearly one in every five persons in the United States gets their political news largely from social media. People who acquire their political news primarily through social media are shown to be less well-informed and more likely to be exposed to unverified assertions than those who get their news from traditional sources, according to the study.
In comparison to previous forms of media, social media’s influence in political campaigns has exploded. Social media has been increasingly crucial in electoral politics, first in Howard Dean’s ultimately unsuccessful run in 2003, then in the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president, in 2008, and now in Donald Trump’s Twitter-driven campaign.
“The election of Donald J. Trump is possibly the starkest example yet that social networks are helping to radically rewire human society,” according to the New York Times. Because social media enables people to interact more freely, it is assisting in the formation of surprisingly powerful social organisations among previously marginalised groups.
2. Social Media’s Impact on Society
Facebook currently has about a quarter of the world’s population. Nearly 80% of all internet users in the United States use this platform. Because social networks thrive on human connection, they become more powerful as they expand.
Because of the internet, anyone with a minority viewpoint can realise that he is not alone. When these people connect through social media, they can do things like develop memes, newspapers, and entire online worlds that support their point of view, then break into the mainstream.
Social, ethical, environmental, and political concerns would have little visibility if not for social media. The balance of power has moved from the hands of a few to the majority as issues have become more visible.
On the other hand, social media is slowly but steadily destroying true activism and replacing it with’slacktivism.’
While social media activism raises awareness of societal concerns, the question of whether this awareness leads to genuine change remains unanswered. Some claim that social media has encouraged people to utilise computers and mobile phones to voice their worries about social issues without having to participate in real-life campaigns. Their involvement is restricted to pushing the ‘Like’ button and sharing content.
When people are given options that free them of the obligation to act, they respond with inactivity. People utilise the option of ‘liking’ a social cause to opt-out of really devoting time and money to a charity organisation, according to a 2013 study by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. People are more inclined to offer genuine support by making a financial gift when they are allowed to show support in private.
The researchers discovered that a public endorsement is intended to please others’ opinions, but private donations are made because the cause aligns with one’s ideals. This peer pressure may be a factor in the recent trend of political polls in the United States misreading voter intentions: people who respond to polls may be answering how they think the pollsters expect or how they think will please their peers, but they vote according to their true preferences in the privacy of the voting booth (or at home with a mail-in ballot).
3. The Effects of Social Media on Business
With the rise of social media, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a company that doesn’t use one or more social media platforms to reach out to consumers and prospects. Businesses recognize the value of using social media to engage with customers and generate income.
Businesses have understood that social media can be used to provide insights, boost demand, and develop customized product offerings. These responsibilities are critical in both traditional brick-and-mortar businesses and, of course, e-commerce.
According to numerous research, incorporating social networks in the workplace can improve knowledge exchange. As a result, project management activities are improved, and specialist knowledge is distributed. Fully incorporating social technology in the workplace lowers barriers, breaks down silos, increases contact, and contributes to the development of more highly competent and knowledgeable employees.
On the other hand, a low number of social ‘shares’ might result in negative social proof and jeopardize a company’s trustworthiness.
Interestingly, despite the fact that social sharing has become the rule rather than the exception in business, some organisations have opted to go against the flow and remove social sharing buttons from their websites after witnessing firsthand some of the negative consequences of social media.
Conversions increased by 11.9 percent after Taloon.com, a Finnish e-commerce shop, eliminated share buttons from product pages, according to a case study.
These findings emphasize the double-edged aspect of social media’s impact. When a product receives a large number of shares, it might help to boost sales. Customers, on the other hand, begin to distrust the product and the firm when the opposite is true. Dr. Paul Marsden, a psychologist and author of “The Social Commerce Handbook,” called this phenomenon “social proof.”
4. The Influence of Social Media on the Workplace
The use of social media in recruitment and employment has had a significant impact. LinkedIn and other professional social media sites are vital social media platforms for anyone trying to make a name for themselves in their field. They enable users to develop and advertise their own personal brand.
Nineteen percent of recruiting managers base their hiring judgments on social network information. 70 percent of companies use social networking sites to explore job seekers, according to CareerBuilder’s 2018 social media recruitment survey.
5. Social Media’s Impact on Training and Development
Job seekers who learn the most up-to-date and advanced social media strategies are significantly more employable.
OnePoll polled 2,000 U.S. parents and their high-school-aged children about the “new normal” of high school in 2020 on behalf of Pearson and Connections Academy. Social media, according to 68% of kids and 65% of their parents, will be a valuable tool and part of the new high school normal.
Many educational institutions currently use blogs, wikis, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and podcasts as learning tools. The rise of long-distance online learning has been aided by social media.
Despite concerns about privacy and certain cases of cheating among long-distance learners, social platforms continue to be employed in education.