What Does Social Media Mean For Society?
By Zuzana Padychova
Social media is big business. According to a new animated Social Media in Real Time counter, in just one minute Facebook users average about 292,980 status updates! But it’s still a relatively new phenomenon that is not yet fully understood. It’s called social, but how does it really impact our social lives? Are we having less face to face contact, and if so does that matter? How are children who are growing up from birth with social media being affected in the long term?
“You can’t learn nonverbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication,” says Yalda Uhls, lead author of a 2014 UCLA study on sixth-graders’ social habits. “If you’re not practicing face-to-face communication, you could be losing important social skills.”
Businesses and brands heavily utilize the Facebooks and Twitters of the world to market themselves and engage with consumers, but are the number of followers and other metrics really that important and how do they translate to sales? A survey from Manta revealed that 61 percent of small businesses don’t see any return on their social media investment.
What about celebrities? Out of any class of people, they have the largest followings on social media and, therefore, the biggest voices to influence the general population. The real-time social media counter reveals that on average pop sensation Katy Perry receives extra 1,620 followers on Twitter every hour. As of writing, she has 81.7 million total followers, more than US President Barack Obama and higher than the populations of most European countries. Over on rival platform Facebook soccer legend, Cristiano Ronaldo has racked up over 109 million page likes and is currently at a rate of around 648 an hour.
It’s said that with great power comes great responsibility. So do famous names like Perry and Ronaldo have some kind of social responsibility or is it ok for them to say and advocate for whatever they feel like at the time, with no thought of the repercussions? After all, they have the right to free speech like any of us, right?
What about information or misinformation? It doesn’t take much for something to go viral, but what if the info is false, misleading or dangerous? Fad diets, conspiracy theories, outright racism, and radicalization are all rife on social networks. In the aftermath of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris social media was filled with fake images of the event, solidarity marches that were from other marches months before, and false stories such as Uber raising their prices after the attack. A September, 2015 study in the Journal of Academic Librarianship on “Why Students Share Misinformation on Social Media” revealed that over 60% of respondents had shared misinformation, and most of it was about self-expression, not accuracy.
On the other hand, should what people say on such platforms be used against them in a court of law? Should employers hold somebody’s job in their palm based on their postings? Should people’s lives be ruined for a simple slip of keyboard? What’s the difference between saying something controversial or incorrect online and saying it at the bar between friends?
These are all things that we’re trying to come to terms with as social media continues to grow exponentially across the world. The social media in real time counter suggests that in just one year’s time Facebook will have another 189 million users while Twitter will have 16 million more. How many of those will worsen their social lives, spread and consume false information, or lose their jobs for something they post?
If you would like to see the growth of social media before your very eyes, check out the new counter from Coupofy today!
Zuzana Padychova is a digital marketer helping international SMEs to adapt and execute their global business strategies in local markets. She has worked with teams from 27 countries over 5 continents so far. Zuzana is in the Potential Asia team of digital marketers developing a network of Coupofy online startups across the world.