The Impact of Social Media on People, Businesses, Communities, and Causes.

Everyone is Familiar With Social Media

Whether you cringe at your old Myspace page or keep in touch with your aunt on Facebook, everyone is familiar with social media. It has grown to become more than just a communication tool—it is shaping politics, world culture, careers, and innovation.

It has also impacted people’s mental health and wellbeing. This article explores who social media benefits and hurts, especially young people.

1. People

In just a decade, social media has gone from a novelty to a part of daily life for people around the world. People connect with each other, share news, and entertain themselves on networks like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Politicians and celebrities communicate with their constituents, fans, and followers, while businesspeople use these platforms to market products, engage customers, and gauge consumer trends.

The first social networking sites were launched in 1996 and the industry has since boomed worldwide. Social networks allow users to create a profile, add friends, exchange messages, and post status updates. The most popular networks are Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, but there are many other options including Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. These sites also offer video hosting and viewing, image-sharing, and online communities. Some social networks have faded into obscurity, while others have found lasting success and growth. People who use social media are more likely to interact with people different from themselves across income levels, political parties, religious views, and ethnicities.

2. Businesses

Businesses use social media to advertise their products and services, connect with customers and foster new business. Businesses can also leverage social media to monitor, respond, amplify and lead consumer behavior at every stage of the purchasing cycle.

A business’s presence on social media can help to establish thought leadership in its industry, whether through creative content shared on Instagram, a well-written blog post on LinkedIn or fresh perspectives expressed on Twitter. This can result in increased website traffic, higher brand awareness and, ultimately, more sales.

In addition, companies can leverage social media to communicate with their customers in real time. This increases transparency and builds trust with consumers. It can also provide helpful customer service and help a business to resolve issues. Some companies also employ staff to handle social media accounts, but it’s important that businesses are aware of the risks associated with giving employees full access to company social media accounts and have policies in place to avoid legal complications should an employee make a false or misleading claim on behalf of a company.

3. Communities

Although the telegraph, invented in 1844, was the first electronic means of communication, modern social media as we know it today dates to the 1997 launch of SixDegrees and later personal blogging platforms like LiveJournal and Facebook. More recently, services such as YouTube and LinkedIn have emerged to help professionals stay connected with one another.

Community-based networks focus on a single topic, such as a particular interest or region. They typically include discussion forums that spiral into long, detailed comment threads. These networks are often free of charge and accessible from desktop computers via bulletin board systems, such as CompuServe or Prodigy.

More recently, a number of social-networking sites have emerged that are designed to combat the prevalence of clickbait and misleading headlines. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, for example, has launched WT:Social, which lets users share links to articles and discuss them in a Facebook-style news feed. The service is financed by donations, which Mr. Wales hopes will make it self-sustaining.

4. Causes

Millions of people all over the world use social media on a regular basis. They get information about politics, celebrities (and their troubles), fashion and lifestyle trends, and everything in between. They interact with their friends and family, find job opportunities, do their shopping, and more. They’re a huge demographic for businesses, and they often have high expectations of companies—especially if they’ve had a bad experience.

A large portion of the user base consists of teenagers and young adults who use social media to meet their basic needs for entertainment, autonomy, relatedness, intrinsic motivation, and perceptions of well-being. This is especially true for adolescents because their brains and social skills are still developing.

But many of these users are at risk for problematic social media usage and addiction. For example, they may check their social media frequently late at night or first thing in the morning—which is associated with a lack of sleep, poor academic performance, and depression. They also have a higher risk of cyberbullying and lower levels of life satisfaction.

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