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The power of social media

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Social media is an indisputable force in the world. With the universal platform (internet), where three billion people are connected online, it has emerged as the strongest and the most powerful network in the history of mankind. Reaching out to millions of people with a message usually requires strong planning and a great deal of knowledge about how social media and information channels work. For example, facebook is the best known of the social media networks, and is one of the most popular with 1.1 billion members worldwide. And twitter, there are over 500 million registered users worldwide, is a highly powerful tool which allows connecting and engaging with an existing or potential customer base. YouTube, the video sharing website, has over a billion users, with people watching hundreds of millions of hours of content every day.

Impact of social media

With three billion users, the impact of social media does not stop online, it has now become a section of a much larger sphere of influence. Despite the fact that these social media may initially create a certain buzz regarding a subject or a topic, overall it has the power to create opinion and huge publicity.

Recruitment tool

Social networking is slowly being monitored and governed by the recruitment industry. Many recruiters are currently taking a much more positive method to sourcing and vetting candidates through the use of their social media. For the past 10 years, recruitment agencies are aware of the potential of the social media, can they use it towards the company’s goals, time, and objectives. For individuals, Facebook and Youtube give people the chance to connect, offer opinions, exchange knowledge, as well as providing experience of jobs and interviews.

Awareness tool

It is a very useful medium for spreading awareness. For example, it can be of use to spread information about dramatic events or to warn others about risky routes. When immigrants reach a new country, they can also use social media to contact their fellow countrymen who are already there. They can get information about visas and permits, government authorities, they can turn to or what things cost.

Political and democratic tool

Social media has also become a new platform or a new tool for democracy. Millions of people can express and share views and form political, social opinions. Social media also offers a platform for political campaigners and organizers to create a political market platform where candidates, government officials, and political parties can use social media to create public opinion in the desired direction. Political campaigners have understood the power of social media and that along with advertising on traditional mediums such as posters, billboard advertising, television and newspapers, they must fund and invest in digital marketing campaign if they want to compete with their rival parties. For example, over the past few years, such campaigns were highly visible in UK and US, where many political parties used social media campaigns to garner more votes and to defeat their opponents. Apart from this, there are also examples of individuals who have quickly succeeded in raising large sums of money for those in need.

Commercial aspects

The power of social media has attracted a huge commercial interest which has begun to jump and exploit the medium. Social media campaign has become a business with the emergence of several thousand organisations around the world. Apart from driving users of Facebook to their website using marketing promotion and other strategies, facebook and Google are good examples of large multinational companies, have used them for pulling information of the users for their marketing strategies.

Risks in social media

As social media target like-minded groups and individuals, there is a risk for people – particularly young people. They can be exposed to wrong propaganda political and that extreme groups such as racists, paedophiles and terrorists – can find each other more easily and create individual forums. One dangerous example is how the terrorist group ISIS used social media to recruit new supporters. Besides, potential ISIS fighters were invited to join private Facebook groups where they are put into contact with individual fighters who are currently active in the war zones of Iraq and Syria. Such kind of closed groups means that the young or new members never get or discuss the opinions which challenge their world view. Since, social media have creates an isolated environment from the family, community and the rest of the world.

Another question is about the safety of information. The recent scandal with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, where people’s personal information was being used to influence elections may have answered that question. It is claimed that Cambridge Analytica, a UK based data analysis firm obtained the information of around 40-50 million Facebook users without their consent. Cambridge Analytica used a different technique to source the information, using a quiz developed by a researcher. This quiz poses questions which ask users to download an app. This information was used by Cambridge Analytica access to their friends’ data. They used this information to create profiles that they later sold to clients for political campaigns. Many claim that this information was used to create fake voters in Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign, but Cambridge Analytica denies this.

In terms of psychology, social media creates a sense of validation, which is a danger because it has us relinquish the individual power to affirm them. When they seek validation, they attempt to define who we are online, not have online complement who we are. Besides, huge information and videos, pushes to think about a virtual world—how my image looks on facebook or how many “likes” my Instagram photo got. It tends to push individual to care about the wrong things rather than family, real friends and relationships with others. Above all, Social media forces individuals spend valuable with things which are unnecessary. It’s better to invest our valuable time in something that useful —more value.

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