Social media is changing the world in many different ways. From startups to large corporations, the rapid and widespread adoption of these new technologies is altering how we find people, how to obtain information from the media, and how to arrange to demand a change in government. Social media provides a unique opportunity for those who are interested in social justice to speak their minds out, build mass movements, and provide a counter to the power of the unchecked forces that shape our world. But how can social media use and abuse its power?
In the early days of social media, social sharing was an organic occurrence, one that grew with millions of users joining in conversations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and other sites. Users spoke about what they were doing, what they liked, what they disliked, what trends they most wanted to see, and the sorts of experiences that they most wanted to document. In some cases, these sites functioned as an information exchange between people, allowing members to add comments or questions to a story, or add an event to their calendars. Users also added links to their favorite music, books, or television shows, further broadening the scope of what could be shared.
It was this spontaneous connection between people that helped define the parameters of social media and what it could not do. Social media users tended to share personal stories, personal experiences, cultural critiques, jokes, or other random thoughts and opinions. However, the expansion of the idea of sharing allowed for far more informal forms of communication to enter the equation. Some critics have even characterized social media as “social networking on steroids,” using the analogy of a large increase in steroid usage to describe the potential for abuse that so many people feel Facebook allows.
Today, however, Facebook and other platforms have taken steps to curb some of this messaging, placing some limits on how users will be able to express themselves and creating certain boundaries around who can use certain features. However, many argue that Facebook’s rules are too restrictive and that they are making it too difficult for people to communicate with each other. This may not be the case, but one thing is clear: social networking on a daily basis has drastically increased and expanded the scope of what can be shared. Whether users choose to participate or not, it’s clear that these websites still hold a very special place in many people’s lives.
One way that users can use these media to further their business is by starting a fan page. These pages will allow Facebook users to create an account that can be used for announcing new products, posting comments about upcoming events, or interacting with other Facebook users. Many businesses offer these services as a way to let customers use a platform through which they can connect with them on a more personal level. For instance, a designer may start a fan page on his or her own site in order to connect with customers and fans who post comments on their works.
As more media platforms come online, it seems inevitable that social networking will become ever more popular. Some would argue that this is already happening, but it just takes some time. There are already many ways in which users can connect with each other online. In fact, millions of users log on to Twitter every single day to interact with others. If these websites continue to provide a service that allows people to share their experiences, then we could well see a massive expansion in how these media are used.