The evolving face of the world.
In a three-part series, we’ll look at the ways social media’s increased presence has affected the way we live and the world around us. In this first installment we’ll look at the benefits wrought by the technology and various platforms.
If you travel back 20 years ago when the old ARPANET became the ‘internet’ no one could grasp fully how big a change this would be for everyone across the globe. Similarly 15 years later when Facebook went public no one could get a full grasp on how social media would change our lives forever. The way we think, interact, and learn has been influenced at a personal and professional level by the new levels of inter-connectivity between us, our friends, and the businesses we patronize.
At the most simplest level these platforms have engendered a new era where friendships extend past traditional barriers. No longer are your friends dictated primarily by where you go to school, live, or work. Instead we friend online by what shared interests you may have, mutual friends, and even sheer whimsy. Friends who move away are no longer lost but immediately and effortlessly integrate into our virtual lives with a few mouse clicks. The ability for us to reach out and communicate with others has created a new sense of what community truly is beyond what was the historical precedent. In 2010 Nielsen released a report that indicated that the average American spent 7 hours a day on Facebook while Canada’s Facebook Director revealed some also impressive levels of engagement. With the growing integration of other platforms such as Google+ and Twitter this will only build over time.
We aren’t the only ones who’ve turned to social media to define ourselves and relationships with others. Coca-Cola Co. has been taking great advantage of the consumer engagement that social media offers. New Canadian telecom upstart WINDMobile also leverages Facebook heavily as well as Twitter to the point that their CEO engages with customers as well. These are just two small examples of a growing trend to use social media as a means not only to engage their existing customers but to grow brand loyalty as well. Some companies have even taken to using the platforms as a means to do customer relations and retention. For smaller business these outlets offer a great way to connect to costumers in a cost-effective way. Performing artists such as bands and headlining comedians have often realized the power of word of mouth had on their craft. Dane Cook, at a recent visit to the Google Campus, revealed that his break into the industry was thanks to social media and he still relies heavily on it to continue to involve his fan base.
While the idea of social networks is by all means no longer new fresh ground, the reality is that it is past the infancy and growing fast. In a matter of years it will become harder to avoid the being part of one social network or another. More and more of our interaction with our employers, friends, family and favourite brands will be through one or more of these gateways. Next week, we’ll look at some of the detriments towards an increasingly more visible online presence.
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