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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Technology development and advancement in the last few decades bring about the higher availability of the Internet along with the existing of new smart phones which allow users to have access to Social Media anywhere and anytime. This constant access to the social media have changed the way people work, communicate, and it also affects the society as the whole system. In this essay, we will discuss and consider the positive and negative impacts of social media on how our society works as well as the relationship between people.

The Starting of Social Media

The development of Web 2.0 has changed the way people use the Internet. The new Web 2.0 platform uses collaborative contents from the users in order to develop the social media website such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (D. Dasgupta & R. Dasgupta 2009). The growing rate of the contents on social media has given the world a new way of working, socializing, and communicating, and it is expected to have greater impacts in the future. With the current updated statistics from newsroom of Facebook (Facebook Newsroom 2016), an average number of daily active users as of June 2016 are 1.13 billion, in which 1.03 billion are mobile daily active users. With the availability of the social media services and mobile devices, there are many major changes in social operation as well as relationship between people.

Impacts of Social Media on Society

The emerging of social media in a fast-growing rate contributes to both positive and negative impacts on the society in many aspects. Firstly, one of the major changes that have been identified is the use of social media in how business is conducted these days.

With social media such as Facebook, the business owners can build their services and branding with less cost and more effective. Without setting up a website for your business, Facebook can play a good substitute role in advertising, boosting a business branding, and building a good customer relation. One of the main features provided by Facebook known as Facebook page has served many purposes of businesses, companies, organizations, campaigns, and other relevant stakeholders. In addition, Facebook users can create and pay for an online advertisement leading to an effective information dissemination to appropriate targeted audience, which results in a good online marketing (Queensland Government 2016a).

There are many available tools on Facebook, for example, that can provide support to business and customer engagement with an ease of content management by the business owner. Initially, it is a remarkable advertising and marketing paradigm shift from traditional marketing practices to low-cost online marketing strategies on social media site. The business owners can manage their own Facebook page for their business with no or less cost as they can put the basic information about their business, services, products, and location on the Facebook pages. Moreover, customer engagement is deemed another essential role of social media in the modern business. For instance, the business owners can post the pictures and videos of their products and services then share them on their Facebook pages. This provides a quick, convenient, and effective engagement with the customers. With just a small cost, Facebook can promote those products and services to the target customers, which is very cost effective and less time-consuming. Another example is the use of Facebook for collecting feedback and customer reviews through comments, messages, and the number of Facebook likes and reactions on a certain post or product review. According to the Australian survey (Queensland Government 2016a), the social media are currently used in some of the industries related to personal services, restaurant, and accommodation. Those services are ones whose target customers are end-users using the social media site every day for personal and social engagement.

In further discussing the social media impacts on society, there are some positive and negative impacts of social media in workplace. With 115 responses to a survey regarding the impact of Facebook use in workplace, almost half of the responses appeared to support that Facebook use can help them work more efficiently while another half disagreed (Diercksen et al. 2013). However, the research suggests that instead of banning the Facebook use in workplace completely, the employer should have a software to monitor the amount of time employees spend on the social media meanwhile giving more freedom to the employees. For some reasons, the use of social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter can help employees become more creative and productive. Obviously, they can use the tools on social media to keep up to the trend in the market. For example, the use of Twitter to search for Tweets and Hashtags to find out what people are currently talking about their products, services, brands as well as their competitors (Queensland Government 2016b). Another supporting idea also suggested that the use of social media allow employees to understand about their colleagues and those with whom they are working, and it creates a good social environment at the workplace. However, many people still support that social media is the top distraction factor at work, and it may negatively impact employees both at workplace and at outside (Diercksen et al. 2013).

Another form of social impacts of the social media can also be presented in education sector which plays a role as supporting tools for students as well as distraction factors. González, Gasco, and Llopis (2016) examined 37 papers concerning the impacts of Facebook on academic performance. It is reported that there are certain positive effects of Facebook utilization, and those are the use as teaching instrument, space for collaboration, and interaction. For instance, the Facebook groups and Facebook pages for education provide online resources to students and create a place where students can learn and discuss collaboratively online with other students from the same field. However, it demonstrates some drawbacks such as the likeliness to multitasking leading to distraction in study as well as security problem. Overall, it is concluded that Facebook is more likely to bring out a positive outcome in academic performance (González, Gasco & Llopis 2016).  

Last but not least, social media also play an important role in the development of social structure, politics, and democracy. An example of how social media can change the society and how people follow the crowd can be discussed from Election Campaign in 2008 in the United States of America. People go online to follow the campaign and follow the information about the politics. People communicate with others by using social media as a tool to receive and share the news about the campaign (Smith 2009). However, there are still doubts about the reliability of the information on social media as the validity of some information cannot be verified, and this may result in misleading information.

Impacts of Social Media on Relationship

The new development of the social media trends also leads to some interesting impacts, both positive and negative, to the relationship between people and how they communicate. One of the positive impacts of social media on people relationship is how it enables communication over distance with almost all-time availability. No matter where people are, at different countries or different continents, social media can get them to keep in touch timely. Obviously, a family member going oversea can keep in touch and know what is happening at his or her home at all time. Furthermore, social media can help people expand their network circle and get to know more people outside their circle through mutual connections with the people in their network. Taking Facebook mutual friends recommendation as an example, people can connect with others who have similar interest or mutual friends.

The use of social media, however, also leads to psychological concerns for people’s relationship to others as well as how they perceive themselves. The survey study by (Paradise & Sullivan 2012) illustrated how people think of the negative impacts of Facebook on themselves and others regarding personal relationships, future employment opportunities, and privacy. The result demonstrates that people think that those negative impacts tend to affect others (i.e. closest friends, Facebook friends…) more than themselves. Similarly, Kramer (2012) reported that a user’s Facebook status consisting of emotion content is more likely to cause their friend to have similar consistent post. Thus, emotion can spread through social media, and it affects the other people in the network to some extent. Moreover, to some individuals, ‘False Facebook-self’ phenomenon (i.e. one’s Facebook image may be different from the true one) could cause psychological problems and even pathologies. Some users are more liable to this phenomenon than others. An experimental study with 258 users indicates that users with low self-esteem and low trait authenticity are more likely to demonstrate a false Facebook-self (Gil-Or, Levi-Belz & Turel 2015).

In addition, the use of social media influences intimate relationship between people. As people spend more time online and less time with each other face-to-face, this could potentially alienate their surrounding people. People keep scrolling through social media contents, and sometimes it could make them feel bored and unhappy. This is a phenomenon known as Social Comparison, in which people become unhappy and envious by seeing the contents on social media about other people (Konnikova 2013).

In conclusion, social media bring more positive impacts to society in business, workplace, and education while some drawbacks are also mentioned so as to take proper measures to improve the negative outcomes. However, in term of people relationship and communication, social media cause some psychological concerns related to individual self-image as well as how we perceive people around us. While social media help people keep in touch from any place and at any time, the serious negative impacts should not be taken for granted. Thus, it is recommended that each individual should learn to manage their expectations toward the social media usage and properly evaluate the contents they access on any social media sites.

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