Top five lessons to learn about social media
I remember vividly the first time I created my social media account. I had just received a flip phone-handed down from my sister, and I was over the moon about it. It was a tiny feature phone- one of those that you had to press severally at a button to type a letter.
My father couldn’t understand my obsession with the phone. I was always on the phone, and all that mattered to me was the fun I had communicating with my friends- never mind that it took me several minutes just to type two or three sentences! Fun times those were…
Generation Z will never appreciate how much the world has changed due to the social media evolution. They have no clue of how the world operated without all the buzz around hashtags, selfies, trending topics, snapchat and the likes. My dad, on the other hand, has caught the smartphone fever and is now constantly glued to his phone!
Over time, I have known my way around social marketing and in the course of my engagements in that field, I have come to learn about stuff I wish I knew earlier on.
Today, therefore, we’re discussing some of the elements of social media that will better equip you in your interactions on these platforms.
1. What is social media?
We have come to define social media based on our understanding of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tiktok, Snapchat, Google+ and other social networking platforms. While these platforms have come to define the largest social media presence, the definition of social media goes beyond the scope of these platforms.
1Social media is a means of communication, built around the concept of social networking, where communities are able to exchange information in real time. They take the format of discussion forums, consumer reviews platforms, media sharing platforms, etc.
It is estimated that more than 100 million active users visit social media every day. Companies, celebrities, businesses and socio-political organizations have taken advantage of this to promote their agenda and build their brands.
2. The positive aspects of social media
Social Media has proven to be a powerful tool in bringing the world together. Friends, family, communities, co-workers, conferences and other groups are able to connect and have real-time discussions and fun online. They can also exchange content such as photos, videos, tutorials, training manuals among other material that bring about positive change in the world.
Social media has also presented companies and small businesses with excellent platforms for marketing their products, building their brands, getting customer feedback and attending to their needs.
Consumer platforms offer insights into the suitability of companies, businesses and products. There are also community discussion forums such as Quora and Reddit that host useful talks on various topical issues. These provide useful grounds where one can learn about new developments and expand their knowledge. Platforms like Pinterest have useful content where people can sharpen their skills and showcase their creativity.
3. Social media’s ugly side
Understanding that social media has its own faulty sides is key to knowing how to navigate your way through it without harming yourself, your business or your brand. Research has shown that social media can be psychologically draining and harmful to mental health. It has been linked to sleep deprivation, increased stress levels and reduced self-esteem.
Some of the causes of these stresses include violation of privacy, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying. There are people who suffer mental stress whenever they fail to get the validation they seek from social media.
Also, identity theft is a widespread problem on social media, with scammers regularly using stolen profile pictures, personal bio and other stolen information to transact fraudulent businesses online.
4. The threat posed by cyberbullying and stalking
Cyberbullying and stalking are among the worst forms of social media harassment. They are widely classified as illegal activities in many nations around the world. Cyberbullying and stalking often present themselves in the form of teasing, trolling, extortion, insults, threats and other forms of harassment meant to cause mental stress, psychological anguish and public humiliation.
Sadly, these are fast-growing problems that have in some instances led to cases of suicide and murder. In addition, there are also rising cases of child pornography which is also classified as a crime in many jurisdictions.
5. How not to lose control to social media
While social media has become an important part of our lives, it is also important that we don’t let it control us. The only way to be in charge is to take control of the amount of time you spend on the various social media platforms, filter out what to read and who to respond to. Develop a keen eye for toxic content and know how to identify fake profiles and misleading information. It has also been recommended by some experts that one shouldn’t spend more than half an hour per day on social media.