The Power of Social Media and its Effects
Social media is an essential tool for businesses to communicate and reach out to potential and returning customers. We’ve seen the power of social media not just in business, but it affects changes even in politics and the economy.
One big movement I have seen over the past year is the General Election in Malaysia, check out this article for a quick recap on the event that took place. I won’t say social media impacted the whole change of the political landscape in Malaysia, but the effects of it can be seen.
With the young population straying away from traditional media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube exploded with both the ruling government and opposition launching various campaigns. They work day and night to keep their supporters updated about their progress, schedules of upcoming events and anything related to the election. Traditional media has always been tied to big business, and sometimes the ruling government. Not just in Malaysia, but many countries worldwide with independent media sites gaining more traction than ever before and social media is at the center of this growth.
Why Social Media?
The reason why people choose social media as their main source of news is due to its ability to provide real-time updates, globally. With Facebook Live and the ability to share on the spot gives a huge audience coverage. People with larger followings that share news and articles or giving their opinions have a big impact as followers tend to trust the people that they are following on these platforms.
If you follow people you trust on social media platforms, it’s more likely that you will believe the news and information shared by them. Social media platform is also one tool that companies and influencers use to show authenticity and transparency.
For example, the review system on Facebook pages helps people to evaluate the credibility of a company whether if it’s a restaurant, online retail store, media site or any sort of business.
With the Great Power of Social Media Comes Great Responsibility
While social media is a powerful tool, it also comes with its fair share of abuse and the ability to mislead people.
According to an article posted by NBC news, fake news spreads faster on social media compared with the truth. We can see this clearly with certain media sites are being seen as bias or reports of “medical studies” that can affect people in a bad way.
The current few examples being seen globally is the rise in Anti-Vaccination, and the recent case in America involving young blood transfusion has seen an impact on society, even if the numbers are small. Certain businesses also tend to use fake and bought reviews to make it look like their product/service is trusted by others.
We’ve seen how companies use social media to promote and cheat customers of their hard earned money. Look at the Fyre Festival debacle, where they hired influencers like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to promote the event to their combined 150+million subscribers. People trust their influencers and businesses they follow and certain companies see it as a way to make a quick buck off you.
As major social media sites have to be open regarding the freedom of speech, it has been difficult for them to control the content that is spread around especially with messaging apps like Whatsapp that uses end to end encryption so while that is secure for consumer use, things that are spread there can have a negative impact to those who lack the knowledge on a certain topic.
Be Doubtful and Always Dive Deeper
A simple step for us as consumers can take is to be doubtful of what you see online if it doesn’t sound right.
If you come across a post on social media regarding a sale of an item, a juicy article, or anything that seems a little off, dig a little deeper. Always look for a reference, feedback, review and with the right knowledge, it will be easy for you to easily identify and filter something that is fake.
With more companies taking a stand on this issue and the unlimited source of information available on the internet, it goes back to us, the consumers to be responsible for what we consume. As for businesses, be transparent and be genuine to your followers and customers on social media. Take time to understand all feedback and reviews, get to know which are genuine, and act on them.
While it’s almost impossible to avoid trolls and fake accounts on the internet but if you address things the right way, it could be even more beneficial to you as consumers are more likely to build trust with you. Businesses and consumers should also think wisely on the things they say as sometimes, the things you say cannot be taken back.
So while social media is a powerful platform that can bring so much for your business or as a consumer, we should be smart about it and the way we use it.
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.