The realm of social media has evolved quite a bit over the last decade. It is now the place to be on the Internet for reconnecting, networking, marketing, news, and even entertainment. Whether you are a heavy social media user or a light one, it is likely that social media has sucked you in via one of these five reasons. I believe that they are all in their own ways great reasons to be thankful that social media has not only exploded in the capacity that it has, but that it just basically exists.
- Reconnecting. This is the reason I personally found myself joining Facebook, which was the start of it all for me on social media years ago. When people found out that they could reconnect with grade or high school classmates, family from across the country or world, and long lost friends – Facebook exploded. Now, the same holds true for other social media networks as well as users find themselves reconnecting through Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you are trying to locate someone these are the places to check for them, aside from a Google search.
On a personal note: because of social media sites I have had the opportunity to connect with family members that I did not know existed. I have even had the chance to see a photo from the early 1900’s of my grandfather whom I do not even remember. These are things that would never have happened if it not for social media sites like Facebook.
- Networking. Social media networks like LinkedIn are great for business people and those trying to connect professionally. But remember, users are networking personally on the social media sites as well. Finding others to cross-promote with, collaborate with, exchange contacts with, and even work for is a perfect reason that social media exists for so many. Contacts of contacts, friends of friends, co-workers of former co-workers can all connect and take their careers on paths that they may not have gone before.
Freelancers like me can find potential clients, collaborators, and even new friends from the networking opportunities that social media provides, which I can tell you first-hand is priceless.
- Marketing. More and more businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote their products and services. Many entrepreneurs have found it a necessity to succeed these days. Offering promotions, discounts, incentives, and just plain advertising are used by what seems every business out there…and it works!
When you think of following a company like Charmin on Twitter, you might think like I did, “what in the world could a toilet paper company tweet about?” Well, Charmin tweets links to coupons, photos and funny videos of their mascot-like bears, and even promotes interactions like the tweet below…this has gained the toilet paper makers 55k followers!
- News. Trending topics has become a trending topic! When Twitter readers are finding out the news before CNN readers, you know that social media is a powerful tool. I am admittedly a non-news buff; I have always had a hard time with the sadness I found watching the 10 o’clock news. So, my boyfriend used to fill me in on the important stories. These days, I am getting those important story details well before he does!
It is not just all about newsworthy stories and details from around the world; however, finding out news about friends and family members also seems to come from social media networks now. I remember phone calls with news of family members announcing their engagement, friends excitedly spreading news of a new baby, and hearing about a new job of a former co-worker “around the water cooler”. But now, all of this seems to happen through the social media sites. It has become a one-stop announcement tool!
- Entertainment. From cat videos on YouTube that are shared to more networks to details about your favorite musical artist or movie actor to those hilarious pictures with the even funnier captions, social media has brought great entertainment value to all. Not a morning goes by that I do not find something entertaining on one of the social media sites I belong to nor does a day go by that a friend does not share something entertaining with me!
Social media sites like Pinterest are perfect for providing photos connected to recipes, decorating ideas, and those really funny ecards. YouTube is the avenue for engaging videos from music to silliness to comical commercial replays; they have cornered the market on entertaining social media, in my opinion.
Nothing is perfect and social media has had its share of detrimental effects as well, don’t get me wrong. We have all seen it work towards the evil side instead of the good. But, I wanted to concentrate this article on the positive things that it has brought to many of us instead of the bad.
As we approach the thankful season of the year, think about what social media has done to help you and what makes you thankful for it. Did you land your dream job because of your LinkedIn profile? Did your business’s sales increase once you created a Facebook page? Did you gain more clients from the networking you did on Twitter? Please feel free to comment your success stories below!