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Social media sites are infinitely diverse, ranging from Wikipedia, the online crowd- sourced encyclopedia, to dig, the social bookmarking site that allows users to “like” or tag websites as well as sort through other users’ tags. The common denominator among these is the ability for users to interact with the application. The uses of social media are widely varied, from searching for a funny video clip to researching a product to reuniting with a long lost friend, and the use of each of these social media applications, carries with it unique implications.
This paper will examine the advantages and disadvantages of social media use in our society. Specifically, it will look at the effects on the business, private, and political sectors both nationally and globally. The use of social media has become a relevant issue in nearly every imaginable field of business today. From multi-national corporations to work-from-home individuals, employers and employees alike can make use of social media to either their benefit or detriment. The benefits are clearly evident in areas such as marketing, productivity, and, communication, both internal and between business and consumers. Conversely, the detriments include: loss of productivity, negative impact on corporate image, and the ever-present danger of widespread dissemination of misinformation.
Social media has revolutionized marketing. Businesses can advertise for free, target specific niche markets, and remain in a constant state of open communication with consumers. By creating a profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even posting a video to YouTube, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and even small businesses and individuals are able to get their products, ideas, and services, out to the world. This has proved to be a successful marketing model, for large multi-national corporations, such as Walmart, as well as work-from-home businesses and everyone in between. Enhanced communication platforms are an additional benefit of using social media. These sites enable communication beyond the traditional linear channels; businesses can receive feedback from consumers as well as respond quickly and in masse.
The final area in which businesses have benefited from social media is productivity. Social media platforms have been shown to enhance worker productivity through improved employee engagement. A wide variety of organizations and businesses benefit from the ease of information sharing and collaboration that social media platforms provide. Two prime examples of these benefits are the reduction of time necessary for problem solving and increasing transparency within an organization.
Social media platforms have also become a means for employees’ “voices” to transcend traditional hierarchical boundaries within an organization. This increased influence translates into increased effectiveness. Engaged employees are more motivated, as they feel that both they and their opinions matter. As college students, we must realize that our future can be made or broken by something we consider trivial. For all those concerned with their professional reputation, responsible use of all social media is imperative. In the opinions of those who don’t know you in any other context, who you are on your Facebook or Twitter page is a fair representation of yourself.
After all, isn’t that why we have social networking sites, to represent our personalities to the world? Social media is a viral outlet, and it can be an extremely powerful tool. Whether use of this tool results in building up or tearing down depends on several factors. The intention of an individual in posting a tweet, an image or a video, may be subverted by forces out of that individual’s control, once the send button has been pressed.
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