For many years I have had a love/hate relationship with social media. As someone who uses it in business every day for myself and my clients, I need to be across the inner workings, constant changes, and updates in order to keep up with its fast-paced ever-changing nature.
However, I have known there was a dark side to it, something that the Netflix hit, The Social Dilemma has further highlighted. Like many who watch it, I sat transfixed by the claims the inner circle was making. There is some serious world-changing predictions!
Anyone that has attended any of my workshops knows that I encourage my clients to focus on ‘owned not rented’ channels and have written blogs and content around this for years. If you are not sure what I mean, by owned or rented then let me clarify. Owned channels are the ones you fully control like your website, blog, and database. Your rented channels are social media as you don’t have full control over them.
This begs the questions: Should you use social media for your business? How should you use it? When is it relevant? What should you share?
Before answering those questions, I would suggest you fully understand the good and the evil side of social media.
Let’s start with the good stuff:
- Connectivity – social media allows you to connect with people from anywhere in the world. Prior to its invention, there was nothing like it that allowed you to connect so easily. Social channels have made the world accessible to all with an internet connection.
- Creating communities of like-minded people – there is a group of business pages for just about every interest, religion, product, belief etc that you can join. Social media is like an online cobweb of communities with like-minded views that allow you to interact with people who share some commonality.
- Access to information across the globe – being able to connect with products, people, information from all corners of the world, allows us to broaden our minds and knowledge with a few small clicks. It has transformed the way we do business and how we interact with other people.
- Staying in touch – the ability to stay in touch with friends and family via a newsfeed is evolutionary. You can see what your friends and family are doing by scroll. I have reconnected with long last friends and family via Facebook which I love because I would’ve likely never found them any other way.
- Easy to meet new people – Social media makes it easy to search for people you might want to get to know or meet. It also helps to get in touch with high profile people, like you never could before.
- Speedy communication – nothing gets a message out faster than posting it on social media. Speed to market is instant (which can also be a negative at times)
- Helps you to build relationships – I have created new personal & business friendships on social. Some of these have become in real-life friendships as a result of being able to get to know someone from afar to start with.
- Self-expression & thought leadership – it gives you a platform to share your unique thoughts and expertise. Much like I am doing with this article that will likely also be shared on social media.
Like anything in life, there is usually a ying and a yang. There needs to be balanced in the universe and the same can be said for social media. Now let’s look at the dark side.
I always joke that Facebook knows more about you than you know about yourself and scarily it is close to being true.
- It is addictive – once you are on it, it can be easy to get addicted to. With the app so accessible on our smartphones, seeing that red notification flashing at you is hard to ignore. It’s saying someone wants to interact with you. Science has been proven it to have a dopamine effect.
- Divide between people – just like it can bring people together it can also divide them. This has become apparent with Covid-19 and the passionate opinions people have about it and the issues it has raised. Wow, get onto any feed and see how divisive it can be!
- Lack of respect – Due to its very nature, it is easy to lose sight of the fact you are dealing with people and regardless of what your opinion, you should also show some level of respect. Unfortunately, this lack of respect online can cause massive mental damage to even the strongest person.
- Online bullying – the keyboard warrior was born on social media. It’s very easy to hide behind a screen and anonymously criticise and attack people. Something that same person would unlikely do to your face if they were in the same room.
- Lack of regulation – the lack of regulation for social media and on the online world baffles me to this day. In an industry worth billions of dollars regulation is something that is necessary and needed ASAP if things are to be improved in the right direction.
- No Protection of data – when you sign up to a social media site you agree to their terms and conditions. That includes the use of your personal data. Buyer beware!
- Data farming – Social media sites are analysing your data used in Artificial Intelligence to create personalised content to make you click, buy, and interact with certain messages.
- Money, money, money – most social sites are focused on monetisation which can be seen in the declining organic reach numbers. They are focused on quarter on quarter growth. Remember there is no such thing as free and if you aren’t paying for a product you are the product.
- Shorter attention spans – have I lost you already? We have been trained to get information with a click and the side effect of that is we don’t want to wait for anything anymore.
- Mental health issues – one of the BIGGEST issues is definitely around how social media is impacting our mental health, particularly in children. With increases in cyberbullying, insecurity, anxiety, and low self-esteem, there is a big case against social media when not used in a healthy and balanced way.
We have to ask do the benefits outweigh the negatives? This could vary from person to person and business to business. Have you considered the positive and negative impacts of business? It starts with less focus on social media and using it in a more considered way.
What does this mean for your business in a practical sense? How do you apply this knowledge and use social media in a more responsible way?