Here is the moment all those present at the wedding have been waiting for. The moment the groom gets to tell his story of how he met his bride. The groom takes the microphone and beaming with smiles says, “I met her on facebook”. Few years ago, such a story would have been considered a sacrilege. Today, it is happening. In the age that we live in now, what has become known as social media forms an integral part of our lives. It actually encompasses our lives. One would ask, “what is social media?” The free Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines social media as the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.
A section of people have not come to the realisation of the role social media plays in today’s world so they always take it for granted and keep saying “It is just social media”. A careful study of happenings in the world recently will however let you know that those who say it is just social media are either not up to speed with time or are just living in self-denial.
Recent internet users statistics point to the fact that, there are over 1.15 billion Facebook users. Over one billion people have Google+ enabled accounts. Twitter, which is gaining consolidated reputation as the social media where news travels fastest, has over 550 million registered users. So if these social media channel were to be countries, they will be amongst the five most populated countries in the world. With such overwhelming figures, social media plays important roles in fields like politics, employment, business, religion, education, entertainment among others.
In politics, the world witnessed how Mr. Obama used social media extensively to capture arguably the most enviable political position in the world. We are equally reminded of how the fires of the Arab spring were stoked by social media activities. Revolutionists in Egypt used facebook to gather themselves and organize demonstrations to oust a ruling regime. Ghana’s 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections received extensive social media coverage, with many aspirants creating and using social media to push their campaigns.
Social media has become a very important tool when it comes to matters relating to employment. Organisations and companies are now using these platforms to aid them in recruiting suitable persons for their establishments. We now have social media platforms that are solely used for job vacancy and recruitment related activities. Employers now do social media background checks of prospective employees. You can dazzle the panelists at a job interview but your social media activities could ruin it all if checks show they do not fall in line with what the organization expects of their prospective employees. Just recently, a top PR executive in the United States lost her job because of an unsavoury comment she made on twitter. In Ghana, an employee of one of the telecommunication companies was suspended for one month because of a post he also made on facebook. So you see? It is not just social media.
There is a saying that doing business without advertisement is like winking at a sweetheart in the dark. Businesses all over the world today have social media presence in one way or the other. It is interesting to note that the biggest brands in the world have social media presence that matches their identities. Businesses that are doing well surely have well created and managed social media accounts. There is perhaps an unspoken rule in business now that, a well-managed presence on social media is a prerequisite to business success. If your competitors are doing well despite the not so encouraging economic atmosphere and you are wondering why you are not doing as good as they are, the missing link might be your disposition towards social media.
Players in the entertainment circle are using social media extensively to promote their works and build their fan base. Religious organizations are exploring all the avenues of social media to propagate their cause. Social media has become a necessary evil in educational spheres today. The uses and importance of social media in education is a whole story on its own that needs to be treated on a different page.
Have you noticed how things do not feel the same when even one of these social media channels, be it facebook, twitter, whatsapp or instragram goes off for just some few hours? This lends credence to the accolade bestowed on social media as the fifth estate of the realm. It is only when you have knowledge about the potentials of a tool that you can maximize its use. Till then it will remain a toy in your hands. Same story goes for social media. If you do not know its ‘beneficial’ uses, you will see it as ‘just social media’ and miss out on the opportunities that might come your way. With this brief exposition however, you have no excuse to underplay or underrate the potentials of social media.
This piece was originally published on Myjoyonline.com and Daily Graphic.