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Social Media - Advantages And Disadvantages

What are the advantages and disadvantages of social media? There are currently numerous reasons for individuals to be using a social media platform. Firstly it can be said that the social media platform and services are an essential communication channels for many people. Secondly at the local, national and international level social media use is very important in bringing groups of people together. People all over the world however, use these platforms in a variety of ways which differs. For instance west African communities and businesses are using social media for many reasons which are not how they are used in Europe, such as in payments. This could be down to data rates costs and these countries having a wide range of technological levels. In this article we will give examples of how social media is used for business and individuals, plus we will be giving the advantages and disadvantages of these modern online channels.

What is a social media platform? This not a straight forward question to answer in one go as there are many different types. The range of social media tools, platforms or channels on the market online is very wide in unique features, making a comparison between them difficult. Without an extensive length of use, the many different features on one platform can make it too difficult for you to compare. The number one thing that they all have in common however is that interaction by users is key. The many features which separate a platform are things like video, pictures, content and messaging streams. All the platforms do a different job in handling these streams which gives the company that runs that service their unique sell proposition USP.

What are some of the top ten social media platforms on the internet? Here are some of the most popular social media tools in use today:

  1. Linkedin
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Meetup
  5. Instagram
  6. SnapChat
  7. Youtube
  8. WhatsApp
  9. SlideShare
  10. Pinterest

We shall be giving examples from these social media platforms above for our advantages and disadvantages section as follows.

The Advantages And Benefits Of Social Media

The single most important reason for using social media that I can think of is the use in an emergency. From any location in the country were you can connect to the national telecommunication network reports of incidents can be made and updated. The use of geolocation technology means that if there is an incident or emergency effect you then you can locate others instantly by sending out for help. For example on your commute to work or back home accidents can be posted online via Twitter with a hashtag with a notification directed to the police. Mobile phones are good at recording photo images these can be uploaded to Facebook and the emergency services can see what is happening straight away. There are many natural disasters like fire, flooding, landsides, hurricanes, earthquakes and man made ones like terrorist attacks etc that have trended on social first, African countries have benefited from this service, this lets individuals communicate with friends and family. A business would also find out what is happening to their business clients or suppliers all over the world if they are involved in these incidents. Using the words crisis safe would reassure them.

Be More Informed On What Is Breaking Before Others On Social Media

Breaking news are first seen on social media platforms like Twitter. This alerts news stations like the BBC to follow up and break the new to the wider population. Journalists find out what is happening in the world quicker on social media and see the broadest range of what people are saying on platform like Twitter. All the following: news, sports, entertainment, political viewpoints and financial information in today’s world is covered by social media. You can gain an advantage in business opportunities by following the right one.

Social Media Is Free

Social Media is free to use once you accept the terms and conditions, however premium services are available without adverts and enhanced features like with Linkedin insight into how you compare to other candidates for jobs or business Insights which means you get deep insights into a company’s growth and functional trends. Twitter which allows communication through short messages called “tweets.” has a free service in the back end to see analytics of your account and more. This is very handy if a business is looking to build an online presence on no budget it is an advantage small businesses should look to exploit when starting up and there is no budget for marketing. If you are looking to enter a new market such as in an African country like Ghana or Ethiopia having a social media account means you can conduct some research or test a campaign before entering into the market with paid resources.

Paid Social Media

Paid social media is paid social advertising that comes up on your time line is very effect in pulling in users. The idea is to use a call to action CTA in one step i.e shop now. If you are going to use this method as an advantage in business you should have clear links to your landing page offer. You pay for views, actions or clicks from your business posts or adverts. You can target gender, age, location, interest, job title, skills, life events, earnings as keywords etc. The business can use analytics to measure its success.

So this is about developing an advertising plan for a channel like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and measuring its success in direct sales conversions.

Social Media Entertainment

In view of our love to be entertained while we are at home or traveling social media are now multimedia centres on the desktop and in our hands. In other words today you can stream high quality video to you phone from a train carriage from Youtube which allows its user to share videos while creating channels for both business and entertainment purposes and the screen resolution for this is of the highest order. You can listen to your favourite artist in concert or hear from millions of podcasts which you can then share with others outside the platform. As with other platforms you can choose to have this service advert free by paying for this. YouTube paid service allow you to purchase or rent individual items of content made available by third parties. YouTube is part of the google family of online software tools. So analysis of users and visitors can be seen across both services. You must be logged onto your YouTube or Google account to take advantage of this service were you can create, publish, distribute, and consume this content.

Positive Influencers Promotion Of Brands

Influencers acquire followers through celebrity, special skills and/or knowledge, and the most important influencers are those that have a wide base of support across several social media platforms. Youtube and Instagram are big influencing channels because of their visual nature. Before Instagram twitter was the channel that the influencers would use the most, but as processing technology constantly improving together with data plans being upgraded for mobile phone uses social media platforms based on sharing videos and photos really took off.

Snapchat messaging app is about leaving no history of images or video content shared with a variety of fun face filters and interactive lenses to entertain the user. It's augmented reality messages “self-destruct” in up to 10 seconds this is its appeal. Snapchat also enables users to view and explore images sent by other people around the world. Snapchat’s main demographic has long consisted of millennials and Generation Z. Influencers on Snapchat usually take photos of themselves using products and share these snaps on Snapchat. The target market of these influencers is mostly younger female-oriented users who love celebrity streams or feeds online.

To take advantage of the power of influencers a business must know their target audience. If it is young then there is a good chance your brand may fit this method of marketing. International influencers on the continent of Africa such as footballer means a business can reach a new market. Without much effort a business can capitalize in local markets for their brand products and services by having these influencers on board. All of this can be done by live streaming. Example of live social media platforms are Instagram live, Facebook live, Periscope, YouTube live, zoom and webjam.

Doing Business On Social Media

There are numerous good business reasons for owning a social media account. An advantage is gained by one to one contact with decision maker. One the best accounts to hold for business this reason is Linkedin which is a platform that allows users to connect with other business owners and potential partners. LinkedIn exists in over 20 languages which means you can reach people from as far as Guadeloupe, Ethiopia and Brazil. All the following can be done on this platform on the premium account:

  • Personal user
  • Advanced career hiring for yourself where you can stand out and get in touch with hiring managers. Find out how you compare to other applicants. Learn new skills to advance your career

  • Business user
  • A business user can find and contact the right people in the network, they can promote and grow their business, they can learn new skills which can enhance their professional brand

  • Sales user
  • If your work in sales you can access focused sales opportunities. This is so that you can find leads and accounts in your target market, get real-time insights for warm outreach and build trusted relationships with customers and prospects

  • Hiring user
  • For a business that is looking to find and hire talent they are encouraged to use this service which means they could be finding great candidates, faster. Contact top talent all around the world directly and build relationships with prospective hires

Today you can stay connected to your passions anywhere you go in the world and if this is software development there are many groups designed for you. Meetup allows users with similar interests to connect with a focus on local events, however group meetings happen both on and offline. A business can take advantage of this if it is looking to be thought leaders in a topic such as IT development. Being a thought leader can make using Meetup a good platform for businesses such as IT recruitment agencies ooking to hire software personnel.

SlideShare can be used for business meeting, events and conferences. Meetup groups can be highly targeted. SlideShare allows users to view presentation online and comment. and Skype allows people to communicated via video, voice call, and text messaging, all through an internet connection. This too is a great business social media application.

Lots of people use the WhatsApp group feature for their friends and family, it’s a means by which they can communicate easily. WhatsApp is a messaging app designed for the mobile phone that has an instant messaging feature which allows fast and immediate communication. Over the years, WhatsApp has grown from being a casual means of staying in touch between family and friends into a business platform. WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API are now used to allow businesses to create a better business profile.

Small businesses such as artists, dress makers, jewellery merchants take advantage of the eCommerce feature and like the social media platform Pinterest. The service includes both social media and content creation heavily based on images and pictures of merchandise for sale. Pinterest allows users to share and bookmark images, products, and a variety of different multimedia which are hooked up to a safe buyers shopping basket.

Millions of people use social media frequently so there is lots of data fields on customers or clients to help businesses on an advertising campaign.

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Software Apps On Social Media

Social media is available on apps for mobile meeting location can be a feature on the social media channel. These app on phones are integrated into other apps like chat, gaming, offers, weather, traffic reports, fundraisers, news feeds, messenger, find friends, crisis response, local and maps. All these apps and more are what we value on the social media app Facebook so a business should look to see if these apps align with their business model.

Location Based Social Media

Information sent to you like messages vary from location to location. Facebook are pioneers at this feature which is based on IP addresses of the user, mobile tower triangulation or satellite geolocation technology. SnapChat and WhatsApp are location based channels for the youth market on the go. If you want to take advantage of location based social media opportunities the best way to do this is by keeping up with technology either by having a R&D section in your business of hire some smart tech girls and boys who like to play with this for a hobby.

Local location based marketing which is language specific in African countries like Ghana or Ethiopia means an international business can enter a new market without spending large amounts of money from their marketing budget. An example of this is local paid adverts in the local language and currency.

Sharing Content On A Blog Or News Page

Many pages have the Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest etc. share icon for user who see or hear content to share with their friends. This is a great way for a business to gain backlinks for their website based on their target keywords. Backlinks to a website are part of how search engines rank a site in SERP's. Content can go viral is shared on the right platform at the right time. It is a good idea to monitor your business analytics for any spikes in content shares so that you can take advantage of this by way of more signup, offers or sales. Your business content can be topical which means that is its newsworthy or evergreen which means it is timeless which is good for SEO long term.

Connectivity Integration And APIs

With the right technical skills a business can integrate their social media account into their own web app or website. Many business models have been created by doing this. An example of this is using the CRM HubSpot to track leads. If a client has seen a post on your Facebook page or retweeted a message on the twitter timeline this will be recorded into the marketing funnel of the business HubSpot account. All the different touch points plus the client reactions by engagement can be used to rank a lead cold, warm or hot. The appropriate action can then be taken by the marketing or sales team to encourage a sale. All this works in the back office with APIs*. LinkedIn business accounts can be integrated into HubSpot as can Instagram and YouTube. The use of social media in business with integration into a CRM system is a very powerful feature for an organisation and can be a massive an advantage in marketing to sales.

The Disadvantages And Negative Aspects Of Social Media

The are of course some disadvantages to social media. Social media can suck up our time since we are feed recommendation of what we like which means a quickly two minutes look could lead to a two hour binge. Analysis and A/B testing of software is used to keep our eyes on the screens.

Data Privacy

Other concerns of owning a phone centre around data privacy, private or government surveillance. It is sometime very difficult to know who is monitoring our journey through life. There is no guarantee that your privacy is sacrilege. Due to international terror concerns governments around the world monitor our online lives.

Social media is not free. Companies like Facebook who own Instagram and WhatsApp are in this online space to make money. They have IT infrastructure to maintain, in massive data centres around the world, they have the best software talent developing code which they paid top dollars for, plus shareholders to satisfy with dividends. The way they make money is B2B. They sell insight from the data they collect from their users to allow 3rd parties to advert. They want you to download their app which is a closed wrapper secured by your account name and password and they want you to have it running in the background recording your location and all other personal data. All of this means there is your data floating around different companies all in the objective of trying to sell you more and more.

Pressures Of Being On Social Media

Relationships can be created, elevated and destroyed on a social media. This is something new parents have to be aware of. The word trolling is now associated with social media which means people are being harmed in the comfort of there own homes.

Excessive To Addictive Social Media Use

The mobile phone can be a distraction. Many people have been caught their phones using social media to much. Children spend excessive amounts of time on their phones which can be at the detriment to their learning at school. There is an addictive element to social media use on a phone. Many young adults have notification pinging every few minutes and this is something the find hard to ignore. Can you switch off? It requires discipline to not use you phone late into the night. How do we guard against the over use of the phones by children at bedtime. With new platforms popping up everyday, some growing exponentially like TikTok the short-form mobile video platform, only now are the psychological effects being studied by the top universities. The disadvantage of doing business on a platform that is perceived by the public to be negative due to some bad press can mean a companies investment is wasted.

Another disadvantage for individuals is that social media could be used by companies in deciding whether to hire you. Human resources department use social media platforms to see the footprints of candidates before hiring. Excessive or inappropriate use on social media will be frown upon by the organisation if this search of a person profile has negative connotations for their business. Which means you will not be hired or could be fired if past history is exposed.

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Bias Bots And Business

Bias bots which are computer programs can automatically start of trends and these trends can be executed by big business to influence us. There are specialist companies at are paid by big business to do this work on their behave. These trends can be implemented by programs or by groups of paid influencers.

Criminal Activity

Finally one of the biggest dangers of social media uses is in criminal activity. This is an area which is moving fast and the law is very much behind. For example the sending of indecent material and child pornography via the latest platform is sometimes very hard to police or event know about as the law authorities may not even be aware of that platform. Some of these platforms use encryption so many crime may never be spotted. How do you safely navigate this? There is lots of fake news on social media either create by individuals or bots as described above.

For a business criminal activity can have a major impact on the bottom line of the company if a rogue employee uses the company's social media accounts in an appropriate manner. This could be as simple as a screen shot of sensitive information on to Facebook and Twitter or passing company financials via direct message on their personal skype account. Security online is an extremely difficult area for a business to stay on top off and as a consequence human resources department have changed their employment contracts to protect the company. The company leadership directed by the CTO reacts to these threats by resorting to more monitoring of their employees by external departments and or use of CCTV security firms.

A Young Technology

In summary, social media is a young technology, a recent invention as of 2020 is has not been around for more the than 20 years. We are still learning how to best use them and with this the technology moves on. Society today is heavily invested in having the social media integrated into our lives and then, our futures. It would be extremely difficult to move away from this. Having said that social media platforms are great technological tools to have with us, but we should take care with our over reliance on them and we need to understand the true cost of having accounts with them.

Leslie

References

API's in hubspot

West Africa Phones
Editor

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If you wish to use this article for your City and Guilds informal discussions familiar topics please do so. Cut and paste.
For use as a presentation use the following:

  1. Title: Social Media - advantages and disadvantages
  2. Content: Benefits of social media
  3. The advantages and benefits of social media
    1. Emergency
    2. Be more informed on what is breaking before others on social media
    3. Social media is free
    4. Paid social media
    5. Social media entertainment
    6. Positive influencers promotion of brands
    7. Doing business on social media
    8. Software apps on social media
    9. Location based social media
    10. Sharing content on a blog or news page
    11. Connectivity integration and APIs
  4. The negative aspects of social media
    1. Data privacy
    2. Pressures of being on social media
    3. Excessive to addictive social media use
    4. Bias bots and business
    5. Criminal activity
  5. Summary a young modern technology
  6. References