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Social Media: The Good, The Bad, and What You Need to Know

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“Social media is the fastest growing trend in the history of the world.”

  • Neil Patel, New York Times Best-selling author, Top Influencer on the Web

Social media is growing faster than the internet itself.  Anyone with a mobile phone is checking their social feeds several times a day.  They have even come up with a word for the fear of not being near your mobile phone: “Nomophobia.”

Technology, in general, is growing faster than the governments and policy-makers can control its’effects. We need to be aware of the different sides of this powerful fast-changing technology to protect ourselves and our privacy.

The Good

  • It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends that are spread out over the world, share photos of everyday lives, trips, and adventures.
  • Find friends you’ve lost touch with
  • Share funny jokes and stories
  • Share commentary on what’s happening in the news
  • Advertise community events
  • Rally people to a cause

Social Media Marketing

  • It is the perfect vehicle to gain traffic and attention to your business or service through social media sites
  • Social media sites can vary from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and SnapChat
  • A paid social ad strategy is important to a company’s online marketing strategy, with marketing campaigns that cover topics that would appeal to the target audience.

Facebook

This is the social network. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg initially for Harvard students. When they realized it’s potential, Facebook was opened to everyone in 2006, and it has since literally exploded. One out of every four humans on this planet has a Facebook account. 62% of people in North America use Facebook.

With Facebook ads, you can target a particular audience, with criteria such as age group, interests, and shopping habits.

Facebook’s most popular demographics include:

  • Women users (89%)
  • 18-29 year olds (88%)
  • Urban- and rural-located users (81% each)
  • Those earning less than $30,000 (84%)
  • Users with some college experience (82%)

Instagram’s most popular demographics include:

  • Women users (38%)
  • 18-29 year olds (59%),
  • Urban-located users (39%)
  • Those earning less than $30,000 (38%)
  • Users with some college experience (37%)

Twitter’s most popular demographics include:

  • Women users (25%)
  • 18-29 year olds (36%)
  • Urban-located users (26%)
  • Those earning $50,000-$74,999 (28%)
  • Users with college experience or more (29%)

LinkedIn’s most popular demographics include:

  • Men users (31%)
  • 18-29 year olds (34%)
  • Urban-located users (34%)
  • Those earning $75,000 or more (45%)
  • Users with college experience or more (50%)

The Bad

There also is a downside to Facebook and its media power. Facebook is currently at the heart of controversy since a Canadian data scientist revealed information about a U.K. political consulting company called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica gathered data about Facebook users to identify voters who might be sympathetic to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election campaign. Social media messages were used to target this group to influence their vote.

Keep in mind that:

  • The photos you share can fall into the wrong hands
  • The information you supply when you take part in online quizzes and games can become useful to some marketing companies, and political party campaigns
  • The social media platforms themselves have information about you: your age, your interests (if you click on any ads, who you follow), that becomes valuable to marketers, or companies that may want to influence you.
  • These easy connections to casual acquaintances can give you a false sense of who your real friends are. They may divert us from seeking real meaningful relationships with people.
  • Cyberbullying is unfortunately all too real for some teens. With everyone carrying cell phones, a student can be caught in an embarrassing moment at any time, on camera, and forever shared and ridiculed.

What you Need to Know

Privacy

When you are sharing that cute photo of your grandson eating ice cream with his swim trunks on, you will want to make sure you are sharing only with your family and friends. It’s very important to go into your Privacy Settings on Facebook and make sure that the family and friends box is ticked, not the public one. When sharing to the public realm you have no control of who sees this photo and what it is used for. Social media encourages us to be more public about our personal lives. While this can be harmless, we are often apt to forgo the filters we would normally use sharing those photos that are just too good not to share and maybe catches your friends in compromising situations.

Desired Outcome

Governments need to have conversations regarding privacy in the digital age, be aware of the risks of social media platforms, and how to protect people.

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