After analyzing a conversation I had with a fellow friend a few weeks ago (who might I add, was the number one critic of social networking sites), I was reminded of all the advantages that coincide with social media sites. Upon doing some research, I realized that when you are provided with access to easy tools that spread awareness and share ideas – good things can happen. Social media networks are useful tool in more ways than just connecting; it provides users with the means to excel socially, politically, professionally and overall influentially.
Awareness of Movements & Making a difference
Social media networks are powerful tools for promoting awareness and spreading information about a cause. It enables users to have a public voice, sharing their political views and truths to stories that was previously silenced by the government-controlled news stations. Social media websites permit users to broadcast the whole truth to accounts that are not always released and, in most cases. users are the first ones on the scene to report breaking news-worthy events.
Many non-profit organizations use social media as a channel to interact with others and gain support in making a difference. It allows for users to share their stories on a personal level and appeal to the general public. In some cases, people do not necessarily care about a cause, but support it because of how it is expressed. Reddit is a social media network that enables users to promote and generate news stories ‘to the front page of the internet’. It is a beneficial website to spread interesting information and appealing stories to a wide population. In the following Ted talk, I learned about Reddit’s role in the GreenPeace organizations success in saving the humpback whales from being killed by the Japanese government, all because of the internets love for ‘Mr. Splashy Pants’.
Another touching story that I recall trending on social media was ‘A Lung Story’. Helene Campbell was diagnosed at the age of 20 with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and needed a lung transplant in a critical timely manner. She used social media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to share her story and help several others in need of an organ by trending #BeAnOrganDonor and #GiveBlood. Due to her persistency and influence, Helene received a lung transplant on April 6th, 2012 that saved her life. The mission of ‘A Lung Story’ carries on to help others by promoting awareness of organ donation registration and informing the public about the importance of blood donations. This is just one of the many remarkable stories that demonstrates how social media has helped make a difference in society.
Even corporate companies have used social media as an outlet to gain support for online movements. Earlier on this year, on February 12th, 2013 Bell Canada donated 5 cents to mental health services across Canada every time someone posted #BellLetsTalk on Facebook, Twitter and via text. My Twitter feed was flooded with tweets from my friends wanting to help support the cause. The company raised over $4.8 million from the 96 million tweets, Facebook shares and texts they received.
I personally felt like I contributed to a smaller online campaign that one of my friends had organized on Facebook. She decided to create a page that promised if she received 250 likes within a week she would cut her hair and donate it to cancer patients. She asked other’s to help spread the word, deliver information about the process and encourage people to partake in donating as well! It did not go global, but it did help raise awareness – and in my opinion, every ounce of support counts.
Advancing Your Career
Social media networking sites have also allowed individuals and corporations to excel on a professional level. Many critics would argue that social media is more likely to get you fired from a job, than hired – my best friend being an advocate of this. However, if you properly utilize social media websites and post the right content, you could open several doors for professional opportunities.
Various brands use social media to their advantage because they have access to millions of users, that they can virally interact with, at no cost. In 2010, 68% of small businesses resorted to social media marketing and produced immediate remarkable results. It allows businesses to attract new customers who were unaware of the services they offered. I think endorsing your company via social media is a great way to get noticed by potential clients. A friend of mine recently created a business that produces professional websites for corporations. He depends on social media networks to develop a client base by connecting with organizations online, offering specials and posting examples of his services. I recently saw him post on Facebook that he took his two best friends to Atlantis in Bahamas… on a private jet, in other words, I gather he is doing extremely well.
LinkedIn is a social media site designated for individuals seeking to network and develop connections in their professional occupations. It grants job seekers the opportunity to learn about different companies they are interested in working for by viewing job openings, and connecting with previous and current employees. According to Forbes magazine, one-third of employers utilize this site as a means to screen potential employees by networking and getting a glimpse of their lifestyle outside their resume or interview. Ultimately, it gives job seekers and employers the opportunity to find the best fit for a given position, allowing both the individual and company to excel.
YouTube is another social networking site that has led to a successful career of fame and fortune for various individuals. It is safe to say that Canadian pop star Justin Bieber would not have been discovered by Usher if it weren’t for the homemade videos he had produced and uploaded to YouTube. It’s hard to believe, not that long ago, he was a small town boy singing on streets of Stratford, Ontario at the Avon theatre… now his net worth is nearly $130 million.
Social Acceptance and Personal Gain
Not everyone uses social media to advance themselves in a professional or profitable manner – some people use it to gain social approval and gain in society to obtain a higher social status.
I find that some of my Facebook friends use social media as an encouragement tool. One of my friends has lost a bunch of weight and posted a before and after picture of her results, followed by comments such as, “You look great, keep up the good work!” Another friend posted a picture captioned ‘just woke up #NoMakeup’ with countless comments on how naturally beautiful she is. People LOVE social media because they love recognition and receiving compliments from their peers. Social media networks grants us instant gratification to elevate our moods based on the amount of likes and comments we receive.
A Klout score can be calculated on a scale of 1 to 100, ranking users on how interactive, influential and engaging they are over others via social media. The Klout score is calculated by the number of likes, comments, shares, friends, followers, re-tweets and mentions you receive over a 90 day period. The higher your Klout score, the more perks you earn because of your powerful influence over others. The more social attention you receive, the greater amount of rewards you will reap. My brother just recently stayed at a hotel in Las Vegas, he witnessed a fellow guest handing the concierge a Klout perks voucher that gave him an amazing discount rate. I was stunned that by merely tweeting your location and posting on Facebook you could receive ample rewards! My Instagram is already flooded enough with pictures of food and restaurants, I can only imagine what my home page will look like once society discovers Klout perks!
So, next time you have a conversation with a social media critic, remind them of how you can use social media to your advantage.