How has social media emerged as a powerful communication medium?

Meghdeep Patnaik  |  October 08, 2019

How has social media emerged as a powerful communication medium?

Social media is a powerful communications medium, with widespread influence over cities as well as remote areas. However, it is only part of the digital revolution that we are witnessing. Digital transformation has not only influenced businesses and made the world more accessible, but it has also changed the way we communicate.

According to Oberlo, as of 2019, there are 3.2 billion social media users all around the world, which is about 42% of the Earth’s population. In addition, there are roughly 4.5 billion internet uses across the world today. These statistics are proof of the growing dominance of digital media in our daily lives.

This blog will describe the factors that have led to the rise of social media as a powerful communications medium. You will also gain an understanding of how social media has changed the dynamics of communication.

How has social media emerged as a powerful communications medium?

Social media has taken over the business sphere, the advertising sphere and additionally, the education sector. It has had a long-lasting impact on the way people communicate and has now become an integral part of their lives. For instance, WhatsApp has redefined the culture of IMs (instant messaging) and taken it to a whole new level. Today, you can text anyone across the globe as long as you have an internet connection. This transformation has not only been brought about by WhatsApp but also Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. The importance of social media in communication is a constant topic of discussion.

Online communication has brought information to people and audiences that previously could not be reached. It has increased awareness among people about what is happening in other parts of the world. A perfect example of the social media’s reach can be seen in the way the story about the Amazon Rainforest fire spread. It started with a single post and was soon present on everyone’s newsfeed across different social media platforms.

Movements, advertisements and products are all being broadcasted on social media platforms, thanks to the increase in the social media users. Today, businesses rely on social media to create brand awareness as well as to promote and sell their products. It allows organizations to reach customers, irrespective of geographical boundaries. The internet has facilitated a resource to humankind that has unfathomable reach and benefits. 

How has social media influenced the way we communicate?

  • Essential business strategy: Everything is just a click away and includes everything from news to buying your groceries. The ease of access that social media provides has taken over the traditional methods of shopping, reading news and even studying. Education too has incorporated forums and social media chat rooms to increase interactivity among students, conduct webinars and promote events and courses. Social media is a crucial section of digital marketing, helping businesses go beyond demographic and geographic boundaries.

  • Online payments: While there was a time when online payments just meant online banking services, the dynamics have changed today. Social networking platforms like WhatsApp are incorporating options (WhatsApp Payments) within the application that allows you to transfer money to other people with minimal effort. The only challenge that these new payment systems presents is the maintenance of security standards. While this is a convenient way to digitally send money, the security standards must be regulated to ensure customers are stepping into a safe zone.

  • Online healthcare: Social media has changed the way healthcare services are carried out. Rather than physically visiting a doctor for your ailments, you can now speak to a virtual doctor who will suggest medications based on your symptoms. Some doctors even consult with patients over Skype calls to better understand their ailments. While this poses a great advantage for patients who do not want to pay a visit to the clinic, it also comes with its share of risks. The chances of non-qualified individuals posing as doctors are high. Moreover, it is difficult to confirm a doctor’s credibility by the look of their profile online. However, if used appropriately, this can be a beneficial resource for people worldwide.

  • Increased civic awareness: Social media has changed how we are governed by making the process more transparent. Many leaders across the world have taken to social media to voice their opinions and priority issues, giving people a better understanding of the government they have elected. It has also limited the influence of political stakeholders over what information should reach people. Before social media’s entry into the digital era, traditional media and the government were the only sources of information. However, this has now changed for the better. The downside of this is that some organizations are also misusing the power of social media to negatively influence people.

  • Disaster management: Global warming has affected our planet to the extent that natural calamities make headlines every other day. In the face of this, social media has become a saviour, enabling relief funds, information and support can be sent and accessed more easily. For example, the safety check feature on Facebook allows you to mark yourself safe in disaster zones, helping your friends and family know that you are safe, in case there is no other medium of communication available.

  • Social justice: Social media has brought people face-to-face with humanitarian issues. Many social work organizations such as animal welfare and fundraising organizations are also taking to social media to create awareness about the issues of society. It brings together activists, allows people to raise their voice against injustice (for example, the #metoo movement) and helps people come together for social causes.

Social media’s influence has given rise to a different genre of communication, where conversations are quick and information is easily relayed. Due to its widespread impact, employers are seeking professionals who are well-versed in social media platforms to take on important roles within an organization. In fact, social media as a business function is growing rapidly and presents a number of employment opportunities. If you want to become a part of the revolutionary change that is social media, you can opt for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Communication degree offered by University Canada West (UCW). To read other insightful articles, stay tuned with our blog.

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