STILL THINK SOCIAL MEDIA’S JUST A FAD?

It’s amazing how quickly social networks have taken over the world of communications. They have made such an impact on the planet that companies and businesses have created brand new departments solely for the utilization of these websites. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…the list goes on and on. Social media, along with human beings’ responses to it, have drastically changed how things work in the world.

I remember my first internship at an advertising agency in Atlanta, Georgia. While I was in the Broadcast Production department, a few interns were with Account Planning, Media Buying, and the like. The department which caught me off guard the most was the Social Media sector. It was insane to me that an entire segment of a professional company dedicated its time to websites such as Facebook and Twitter. I could not believe that the social networks I used on a daily basis had grown so large to completely transform part of a business. That is how much things have changed in the past decade; people are paid to sit at their desks and to regularly update a professional Facebook page in order to promote awareness and to spread word-of-mouth.

Because the social media trend began in my childhood, I have easily become accustomed to the whole idea. However, those much older than I am can sometimes be confused by the new technology. I grew up with a personal computer in my home which connected to the Internet via the telephone at the beginning of its public existence. Sure, I was about five years old when we bought our first home computer, and it may have taken about ten minutes to eventually sign-in online, but it was still a part of my younger years. Because of this, I quickly became used to turning on the computer, connecting it to the telephone line, and listening to the annoying static sound that one heard when trying to sign onto America Online (AOL). My parents missed a lot of important phone calls I’m sure, but with Instant Messaging, Emailing, and playing the Sims game online, that was just something that was bound to happen.

Those online sacrificed their use of the telephone, and vice versa. Eventually, this changed and things became a lot easier. Wireless Internet entered the world, and we are now even entering this “Web 3.0” era due to our ability to have the Internet at our fingertips with the help of our mobile phones. A lot of things have changed; I grew up with most of this, and even I did not have a Twitter until being forced to make one for my class on social media. I suppose I never wanted one because everyone else was obsessed with it. While I know Facebook had the same effect, I was one of those obsessed people so I didn’t mind. I guess I just never caught on to Twitter; I didn’t feel the need to be a part of yet another social network. I would simply be sharing the same information on both websites in my mind.

While I easily caught on to the new type of media, many people older than me still think it is all a bit ridiculous and do not understand how it could be used to increase sales for a business. There has been a longtime discussion about whether or not social media is simply a fad. Perhaps it will maintain its popularity for another decade or so and then fizzle out; however, I don’t think that will happen mainly due to its utilization by industries. Now that companies know how effective social media can be for their business, there is no way they will choose to abandon it now.

There is a very interesting video about the growth of social media and its enhancement of business production:

I do not own any rights to this video. Itt starts out by asking if social media is simply a temporary trend or a means necessary today to increase sales. It then lists some facts. One datum is that Facebook is used as part of a marketing strategy for at least 85% of companies today. That now explains why social media departments have been created in advertising agencies, like the one at which I interned. It also implies that ad agencies are not the only businesses with this new area of work. So many people have a Facebook page that “if Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest in the world.” That is ridiculous to think about, but then again, it makes sense. Mostly everyone I know has a Facebook page, and that is only a small percentage in relation to everyone in the entire world. When one thinks about it, it’s actually surprising that it would only be the 4th largest and not perhaps a bit bigger.

I remember when Facebook was a social network only available to college students. Those younger and older were not allowed to join (which always made me wonder what would happen to one’s Facebook once they were no longer in college…hmm…). I remember my sister, who is four years older than me, bragging about how she was part of this new thing called Facebook and that I wasn’t old enough to join. I also remember her complaining a few years later when I was creating my own page while only in high school. After their expansion from initially only allowing college students to also letting high school students join, it grew even bigger. The largest increase of social media activity occurred a couple of years later, when everyone and their dog could have a Facebook account (literally). I still feel weird when I log onto my account and have a notification that my own mom has commented on my status. It’s also a bit bizarre when my friend’s dog “comments” on one of my pictures. Yes, I was not lying when I said everyone and their dog has a Facebook. When I think of one of my friends logging onto an account with a dog as their profile picture, entering information such as, “I enjoy playing fetch,” and then writing on other people’s walls about how they want to go on a walk, it makes me cringe. I wish I had that much free time on my hands…

Getting back to the video I gave the link to, it then goes on to mention that 80% of employers use LinkedIn to recruit new employees. After reading that, it makes me want to log into my own account and immediately polish it up a bit. I’ve been told to become connected with teachers and employees on the social network because you never know if someone years from now will have a contact which could land you the job of your dreams. It’s true though, and that’s another reason why you should never burn any bridges. Who knows what will happen in the future and who you’ll need to lean on in times of need? People should be nice to everyone they meet and try to help them in any way possible, whether it be emotionally, financially, and the like. If avoiding those burnt bridges isn’t reason enough for you to do this, then think of karma. There’s good karma and bad karma, and whether you believe in it or not, it’ll come back around and find you. In that case, you better hope you did all you could to help others in the past.

The video then goes on to outline how long it took different social mediums to reach 50 million users. It begins with radio, which took 35 years, and continues to television taking 20 years. Things quickly jump when it says the Internet took only 5 years. Now, because of this obvious advancement from 20 to 5 years, one must wonder how long it took things directly associated with the Internet to reach those 50 million users. Well, you don’t have to wonder for too long, because after about 5 seconds, it tells you that in only 3 years, the iPod reached the goal. Because the iPod is popular due to its musical capabilities, one now understands how the Internet was able to influence this expansion due to its creation of iTunes and the Apple store, all which are only feasible with the Internet.

Now, this whole time we have been talking about how long it would take to reach 50 million people. Here’s a scary fact: Facebook reached twice as many users in only nine months. Yes, read that sentence again. It then poses a question: “Still think social media’s a fad?” They could have simply ended the video right there because to me, it is a rhetorical question. There is no doubt as to how powerful social media has become and how different the world is now in simply a decade. Who knows where we’ll be not only a decade from now, but even a few months or a years from now. The world is changing, not only due to technology, but also due to human beings’ responses to it. The only time people will be able to blame technology for being the sole reason for change will be when not a single human being does something to stimulate it further.

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