The powers and pitfalls of social media

Social media has grown at a phenomenal rate over the last few years. As of the last quarter of 2016, facebook had 1.86 billion monthly active users, while Twitter states it has 313 million monthly users and that’s without even thinking about Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp etc, etc. People all over the world are embracing the advantages social media offers. You only have to travel by train and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who’s not glued to their smartphone.

However, as with anything, what is a benefit in some respects can also have a negative impact if not used in the right way. So we thought we’d explore some of the pros and cons of this powerful tool.

Advantages

  • Connecting people, wherever they are, has got to be one of the number one benefits. Particularly if you’re trying to keep in touch with people who’ve moved abroad, this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways. Social media is also effective in building communities of people who share an interest from a political cause to a passion for baseball.
  • It’s also beneficial from an educational point of view. There is so much information out there and free to access, that you can find out just about anything.
  • Many people also use it to seek the opinions of others and ask for guidance, whether that’s where to get your carpet cleaned or a recommendation for the best painter and decorator in your area.
  • One of the other main advantages is the speed at which information is updated 24/7. This means you can keep right up to date with the news wherever you are.
  • From a promotional point of view, ‘social’ provides you with excellent opportunities to promote your business or event easily to a wide audience and even more importantly, to target the right prospects.
  • It’s also a great way to enhance your reputation. If they’ve had good service, people are all too happy to share their experience on social media which spreads – fast! This can have a dramatic effect on sales and brand awareness in a short space of time.

Disadvantages

  • Sadly, the downside of information being easy to access is that it has given risen to cyberbullying. As anyone can set up a fake account, it makes it easy for someone to write malicious comments or ‘troll’ someone without being traced.
  • As you’ll have heard, the Internet attracts fraud and scams. These can vary from phishing requests which trick you into entering your account details to chain letters asking for money or hidden charges. You can protect yourself by making sure you are up to date with antivirus software and anti spyware and remaining vigilant against anything suspicious looking. See our article here on the steps you can take to protect yourself.
  • Linked to this, personal data can be hacked and shared with instances of identity theft being known. Again users should be encouraged to be extra careful in keeping their data and accounts safe, taking care not to use obvious passwords.
  • It’s also easy to become addicted to checking your ‘timeline’, only to realise you’ve wasted precious time. There becomes a compelling need to sift through reams of updates and reply to messages immediately. Ironically, ‘social media’ can cause people to withdraw from interaction in the real world and make them very ‘antisocial’.
  • Teenagers are often particularly prone to the pressures of being online which can lead to them feeling anxious, losing sleep and even becoming depressed.
  • Security agencies can have access to your personal accounts so some people feel this compromises their privacy. However, it does also mean that the same surveillance can be used in anti-terrorism and in preventing criminal activity.

Although there may be some disadvantages, the main point in our experience is if you’re aware of the potential dangers, the huge advantages of social media outweigh any negative factors.

At 1st Chartered, we’re active users of social media on all three channels – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so why not accept our warm invitation to follow us, like us and engage with us, as applicable! Just click on the links above.

[Sources]

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

https://about.twitter.com/company