Mayfield (2008) described social media as a group of online new media platforms, which have outstanding characteristics, such as openness, promoting social conversation, representing an online community, and advancing the concept of connectedness. This is different from another definition offered by Wigmore (2012) that describes social media as the collective online communications channels dedicated to community based input, interaction, content sharing, and collaboration (Wigmore, 2012. This includes websites and applications dedicated to forums, micro blogging, social networking, social book marking, social curation, and wikis. Examples of these sites include Face book, Twitter, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn amongst others. The first social media network was launched in 1997 (Ellison, 2007) and researchers have made projections that social media will continue impacting human lives for a long time to come. Humanity is simply utilizing emerging technology to define its everyday relationships, both personal and business. Social media is not passing by; it is not a fad (Mayfield, 2008).
First, the development of these new media and social networking sites has not only changed the way people communicate, but also brought along with it negative impacts, such as cyber bullying and invasion of privacy. Nonetheless, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, thus this paper argues in favor of the advantages of social media.
First, it has affected how news is delivered. Journalism trends like crowd sourcing and citizen journalism have emerged, as eye witnesses now have the power to be the first to break the news and events as they happen before they are reported in traditional media like television and radio. Social media is a good tool for men and women to interact as man is naturally a social being. This therefore means that by providing man with a means to interact, social media becomes a means towards the social well-being of man (Burns, et al, 2008). Social media is therefore a wellness tool. It has also been proven that social media improves the self esteem of those who utilize it (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2006). It also promotes a sense of community and belonging, which is essential for success. This goes on to confirm that social media is indeed a tool which enhances the social well being of those who ulitilize it.
Social media is proving to be a means through which people can learn a lot, and acquire skills which they would otherwise not have acquired, had social media not been available. Not only is a lot learned through text, but also both audio and video recordings on you tube, and other social media. This therefore means that social media has become a school in its own class. As time goes by, social media will continue to be more educative (Fitzgerald & Steele, 2008).
Social media has enhanced and continues to enhance creativity within and out of online spaces (Burgess, 2006). This mostly happens through the distribution and sharing of content. Social media has also played a big role in the creation of Individual identity. This is very important. Identity is created within a space that allows the identity creator to create whichever identity he/she desires to create. Social media has provided millions of individuals the opportunity to create an individual identity through which they interact with the rest of the world.
Social media is also responsible for creating many interpersonal relationships, as well as enhancing their quality. Through social media, many people who would have otherwise not met, and who may have never had the opportunity to personally meet and become friends get married or meet. Moreover, social media has facilitated and enhanced interpersonal relations by acting as an important avenue for interpersonal communication. The business benefits of social media are enormous, and are increasing by the passing of each day (Merrill et al, 2011). Social media has benefited businesses through three major ways:
Today, there are many businesses that are directly linked to their customers through social media. This means that businesses can communicate with their clients, and vice versa. This enhances feedback through which businesses can learn what they need to learn to enhance their relationship with their clients. Clients also have a legitimate and effective channel through which they can voice discontent.
Social media continues to help many businesses sell their products. As a matter of fact, there are businesses that purely rely on social media to sell their products. Those that do not fully rely on social media to sell their products sell a substantial portion of their goods and services through social media. Finally, social media has also become an important tool through which businesses as well as other employers can source for new talent. Advertisements that are placed on social media are likely to reach a wider audience, thus facilitating the sourcing of relevant persons to fill positions within businesses.
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