Advantages and challenges of social media

Digital communication brings opportunities and threats

October 15, 2021

A life without social media is not easily imaginable. More than half of the world’s population, amounting to approximately 4.2 billion people, use social media to find entertainment, news and information. On average, one person spends around 2 hours and 25 minutes a day browsing social media platforms. In a world where change is rapid and pervasive, new forms of social media seem to pop up constantly. Therefore, it is important to stay aware of the risks and challenges the platforms impose on us, as well as the advantages and opportunities they bring forth.

Too much information and freedom?

Several studies have linked the excessive use of social media to mental health issues such as depression, loneliness, anxiety and problems sleeping. The surplus of information provided through social media also has an ambiguous effect: “fake news” can be easily spread and taken in by a lot of users. Another problem arises around the question of censorship. Just recently, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee accused the social media giant of prioritizing profit over public good. Since engaging with content posted on Facebook leads to monetary gain for the platform, the social media giant uses an algorithm that shows users posts they are most likely to engage with. These often happen to evoke strong emotional responses such as anger or sadness, therefore potentially leading to serious mental health issues. Since practically everybody has access to social media and content is rarely monitored in the western world, people can also easily be exposed to false, harmful information or cyber bullying. 

Worldwide connectivity

While it can be argued that social media definitely has its downsides, it is also a huge asset, especially in the professional world. Social media helps spread messages and content, with a huge amount of people reachable through a single Tweet, picture on Instagram or post on Facebook. Online fashion giant ASOS is just one of the many examples of successful social media marketing. Utilizing a branded hashtag (#AsSeenOnMe) to increase customer engagement, customers have been sharing their new clothes on Instagram and Facebook for years. Using this user-generated marketing strategy alongside collaborating with influencers and implementing numerous effective marketing strategies, ASOS now is one of the biggest online clothing brands in the world and a very successful digital brand.

Share your content! 

Brands and businesses make use of social media to promote ideas, products and services in a faster, easier and more effective way than using TV ads or other more traditional ways of advertising. With 73% of marketers believing that social media is beneficial to their business and more than half of the internet’s users using social media to research products, the benefits are definitely there. Sharing content across social media is essential to reach and communicate with audiences both old and new, and to accelerate business growth. 

Use in moderation

Social media is an incredibly valuable resource to professionals around the world. Despite the potential for negative side effects, it is clear that the worldwide connectivity and easy access to information and entertainment offered by social media represent significant value to businesses and professionals. In today's digital world, engaging with social media is no longer an option for businesses, it is becoming a necessary marketing tool to engage with audiences worldwide.

Teresa Ehrlich