Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen the social media industry develop rapidly. For example, in just nine years Facebook went from 1 million users to 1,230 million users. The overall figure of people using social media was 3.48 billion as of January 2019. This is an astonishing 45% of the world’s population.
Social media reaches areas that more expensive communication technology is yet to get to, thanks to the prevalence of mobile phones. There are now 5.11 billion unique mobile phone users in the world.
It’s led to a world that is more interconnected than ever before, where more people can make their voices heard. At its very heart, social media is precisely what it says; it’s social.
Are there positive uses of social media?
We believe that social media has changed the world immeasurably for the better.
It must be noted that the positive uses of social media are only as positive as the people using them. Like any social interaction – it’s a tool that reliant on people to determine whether it’s bad or good.
There may well be people who use the tools to spread negative messages, but that’s surely not the fault of the tools? Rather than avoiding social media because of a few people who spoil it, if we are more aware of the many positive uses of social media, it could improve our whole experience. Impacting how we utilise these tools for our voices and organisations.
If people persist on putting negative messages out or fake news then we can understand why people could conclude that it’s bad. If however we ignore social media entirely because we are worried about the negative messages, are we throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?
We believe that there are many positive uses of social media, and we’ve listed our top 5 below.
1. Easily accessible information through social media
Social media enables information to be spread more quickly. Far further than we have ever seen before. We’re no longer reliant on printed or hand written messages to be physically posted. We can receive information in an instant, from the other side of the world. Social media is not only used to spread traditional news pieces but stories shared on social media become the news.
An example of this was seen in the highlights from the recent World Economic Forum in DAVOS. Within a short space of time, quotes from sessions in the event were shared throughout social media. One notable speech was from Swedish 16-year-old climate campaigner Greta Thunberg. Her quote when speaking to the watching adults about climate change “I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic… and act as if the house was on fire” was shared through countless videos and images. This shared her messages well beyond the reach of the room at DAVOS and out to an audience of millions if not billions.
2. Information spreads quickly
Social media has enabled many to spread information far further and faster than was previously possible. We are all networked and connected through the digital platforms. When we’re connected in this way, it is so easy to share stories through a simple share or like.
One brand who have harnessed this particularly well recently is the food chain, Greggs. The launch of their vegan sausage roll combined with some savvy social media use made their new product quickly noticeable. By utilising a creative mix of YouTube and other social media channels, alongside direct marketing, the brand quickly drew a large audience to their product. It also became another example of where brands are using social media to make the news. This is seen in the BBC News article, just days after launch.
3. You have a voice
Social media has become a great leveller for many people. Through the establishment of an engaging social media channel, people have a voice where they otherwise would have struggled. Yes, some celebrities have utilised social media to maintain their presence, but others have used social media to make their messages heard.
One great example of this is the recent unification of teenagers from all over the world, uniting their voices against climate change. They united on specific days to protest and make their concerns for the condition of the planet heard. Whatever you may think of young people skipping school, it’s hard to deny that they have been noticed.
It’s also hard to imagine a movement such as the recent #metoo would have been possible to spread quite as far before social media. The sharing of difficult and personal stories, helped people feel heard and connected. This brought community in area where many had previously felt powerless and silent. If you’re unsure of how hashtags work to being people together, read our recent article ‘What is a hashtag?‘
4. Social media builds community
A great example of people building community through social media is seen in the Twitter thread of author, Matt Haig. He and many others use their Twitter feeds to inspire many in their mental health. The writer’s own open vulnerability keeps many others feeling connected where they may have otherwise struggled.
It does seem ironic when looking at some news headlines, that Twitter provides a place for vocal and supportive mental health communities. People encourage others and cheer each other on. This demonstrates that social media can provide a place where people connect and say, ‘what, you too?’
5. Social Impact brands have used social media to inspire movements
Charity:water have harnessed social media and compelling storytelling to build an engaged and committed audience. Charity:water don’t just use social media to tell people about their charities; they use social media to make their audience feel part of their charity and the worlds they want to see. They have also harnessed the potential of combining organic spread with paid social media advertising. Ensuring that their messages reach their desired audiences.
Charity:water has demonstrated that, when used well, social media can provide a way to make people feel connected with both you and your message. A great example of this is their CEO, Scott Harrison’s, use of his birthday. A few years ago he encouraged people to give to the charity to see a world where everyone has access to clean water to celebrate his birthday. Others since have been inspired to use their birthdays as fundraisers. Facebook now enables people to set up birthday fundraisers, and use the social media platform to spread the message. This approach has since raised millions across many charities.
Social media has changed the world for the better
Alongside all of these benefits, we must re-iterate that, as with any tools, they can be manipulated. Social media has been used as a tool to channel fake news into people’s pockets, but, it has also helped to connect a generation of young people to rise and make their voices heard. There have been many positive uses of social media.
There are many ways that social media amplifies your voice and your reach. Connecting you with an audience of many more people that you could ever connect with in person. It’s a valuable tool to both organisations and individuals.
Can we help you?
If you’d like to understand more about how you can positively use social media, speak to one of our team today.