Social media communication tools such as Facebook and Twitter have profoundly changed our lives and how we interact with one another and the world around us.
If we look back about ten years ago, apart from Orkut and MySpace (which were more like online friend communities), social media was virtually an unknown entity. However, in recent years social media has significantly impacted most of our daily lives and is going to only further influence us.
Tools such as Facebook and Twitter might have been unimaginable for most people at the beginning of this decade.
Newspapers have become passé, and instead we check Yahoo! or Google News or an online newspaper site, the first thing in the morning. Then you move on to look at the blog posts and stories that your friends and people that you follow are sharing via Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.
These people that you chose as your friends and online communities and groups that you have joined, provide your daily news.
It is easier than ever to start and launch a business today, thanks to social media. We can, not only locate potential collaborators and employees through interest-focused Facebook groups, Twitter searches, and niche social networks, but perhaps more importantly, social media gives people who have time, but little money for advertising, the chance to engage with others and promote their business.
For an internet marketer working on a low ad budget, Twitter has become the sole means of marketing. Who we do business with and how we promote that business has moved increasingly online, and for small business especially, social media has proved valuable.
People still meet others at social venues like clubs and parties, but it is easier to discover people who share our interests through social media, whether that means via groups on Facebook or following people on Twitter. Even if your interests lie in an obscure area, like 15th century poetry in France or Nepalese art, there is probably a Facebook group about it, and a Twitter search will likely turn up other people talking about the same subject.
Of course, there is only so much communication happening through a social network, and people are expanding these online interactions to face-to-face meetings and parties. The introductions are initially made through social networks, and then people develop this relationship through Whatsapp, Skype and other online mobile apps.
It is interesting to note that our time on social networks has nearly tripled in the last year. While Facebook has always primarily centered on connecting with people and staying in touch with friends, over 40 percent of Internet users who used Twitter did so to only keep in touch with their friends. This list includes sports and media celebrities, movie stars, politicians, business executives and the average worker.
Even if we have few followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook or subscribers to our blog, the average person’s influence is increasing as communication channels become more open and fluid.
This is because when the networks for sharing and amplifying information strengthen, the ability of each person to influence public opinion and policies increases. As a result, we feel much less like passive bystanders and much more like participants who have a voice in the events in our world.
The recent Indian elections was a classic example. The media completely misread the average Indian voter. They realized that there is no specific loyal voter for a single party. One wave can easily be swept away overnight.
This generation has been heavily influenced by the social media and things were not what it seemed ten years ago. Likewise, Facebook, Twitter and the other big players are not going to close up overnight. Very soon, the need to communicate in person is going to diminish and instead the social media is going to take over as the main means of communicating with people.
If used properly it can give us a greater choice in how we live and connect. Alternately, if we are not careful, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools will take control our lives.