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Natalie Cappelli

English 137

Professor Theresa Hamilton

18 November 2016

Social Media: A Global Change

Today we live in a world where it is practically impossible to survive without the use of

technology. That being said, the world has witnessed a rapid development in all facets of

technology, from simple improvements in the production of safer modes of transportation to

innovations involving the advancement of medicine, all of which have been nothing short of

spectacular. Despite all of this progress, the change that created the most profound impact on

society is not one of science or information; instead, it is that of social media. With the click of a

button or a tap of a mouse, we can be virtually anywhere and with anyone, which has proven to

be a marvelous asset in staying connected with the world. Prior to the introduction of social

media to the public, the generations that came before us were highly dependent upon

newspapers, face-to-face conversations, and advertisements for any form of information or social

interaction. Since the introduction of social media to the public in 1997, the integration of social

media into everyday life has caused a major paradigm shift in interpersonal communication

methods, corporate advertising strategies, and the awareness of the public from local issues to a

global community.

As a millennial born simultaneously with social media, as we have grown up, social

media has too. Six Degrees, a primitive social media platform that simply allowed users to create

a profile and friend others, only lasted approximately six years, but its release in 1997 triggered

the beginning of the social media era (Hendricks 1). By 2003, the first surge in social media was
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seen, with the introduction of MySpace to the general public (The History of Social

Networking 2). At the time, MySpace was the consistent favorite because it tempted young

adults with a feature-filled environment and enticing graphics, and as a result, MySpace was

likely the first social media site the millennials participated in. However, the biggest change in

social media came in 2005 when Facebook and Twitter became available worldwide (Hendricks

1). In fact, Facebook is still the number one social media website today, currently boasting over a

billion users (The History of Social Media: Social Networking Evolution! 1). Early 2010,

brought huge developments in social networking, as there were dozens of other websites

providing social media services of some kind, from blogging to photo-sharing, and everything in

between (The History of Social Media: Social Networking Evolution! 2). This would also be

the time period when social media became extensively used, and icons were seen everywhere,

paving the path for the integration of social media into everyday life.

Social media sites are now not only prevalent, but they are also the preferred form of

communication for people worldwide today. Prior to the popularity of social media, our parents

and grandparents had to physically contact their family and friends in order to be involved in

their lives. They even had to schedule lunch dates with old friends in order to catch up after only

months apart. Consequently, social interactions have changed since social media was exposed to

the world. One of the main features of social media is its emphasis on creating and maintaining

relationships. It is creating and fostering more intimate relationships with others even if the

physical distance may be significant, and it also allows users to meet others, some of which you

might not have met any other way (Jain 1). An additional facet that is interesting is that social

media is changing the foundation of the ways in which people nationwide relate. Nowadays, it is

easier to simply look at a social media page to see how friends and family members are doing
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and what they are up to in their free time rather than having a one-on-one interaction. Similarly,

people prefer to comment on or like a picture than stop and have a quick conversation. Given

the informal nature of social media, it is clear that social media enables everyone to connect with

more people, from all walks of life, even those we might not normally meet in a typically social

interaction (Jain 1). As a result, people report that they interact with others less because they

know that they can simply see what everyone is doing by looking at online pictures and statuses,

a drastic change from our ancestors who had to physically leave the house to see others

(Fowlkes). This, in turn, is creating a society that now judges by looking rather than by face-to-

face interaction. Additionally, people are aware of their actions and the things that they are doing

to distance themselves from the rest of the world, but they continue to behave in this manner due

to the fact that they feel comfortable that they will not miss out, and, therefore, no longer desire

to have one-on-one interactions with others (Jain 1). Therefore, people do not feel as personally

connected to those at the other end of their communicational efforts as they do when they are

face-to-face.

Furthermore, social media has, without a doubt, made us more densely networked and

connected with the world. This is because the rise of social media has become societys

emerging attempt to connect with each other in the face of all the obstacles that modernity

imposes on our lives, although only 8% of influential conversations are reported to occur online

(Fowlkes 1). Moreover, research continuously suggests that society as a whole has never been

lonelier, despite our efforts to remain networked through social media (Is Facebook Making Us

Lonely? 1). This is because, social media has created a false sense of closeness. As we scroll

down each profile page, we feel as if we are directly involved in the topics others are posting

about, but it is easy to confuse this digital intimacy for the true intimacy older generations know
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and cherish. It has come to the point where we even run the risk of alienating the people who

populate our daily lives in pursuit of intimacy with our line friends (Jain 2). We have become so

seduced by the ease of connecting with others online that we begin to think of these relationships

as more intense, more committed, and more complete, than they truly are, partly due to the fact

that up to 11% of grown adults prefer to stay home and communicate online (Fowlkes 1). Studies

have found that there is a greater desire to share with other people you barely know, than actually

hang out with friends and make memories, so while we are communicating more, we may not

necessarily be building relationships as strongly (Fowlkes 2). As a result, we have shifted to a

time where mass communication via social media is one-way, and feedback has become more

difficult to establish, because at the end of the day, people do not feel as personally connected to

the people on the other side of the screen, as they did when one-on-one interaction was involved.

As social media became widely used, it also became widespread among businesses and in

advertising, to the point where it has become unusual to see businesses or brands without them.

Social media changed the way in which businesses spread information about their companies,

finding that 88% of corporations are using social media in some capacity for marketing purposes

(Bennett 1). Social networking began to be one of the ways in which internet markets and

website owners would boost the visibility of their products ("The History of Social Media: Social

Networking Evolution! 2). It began to serve as a cost-effective communication channel for

promoting brands to target audiences, those target audiences being the millions of users of social

media ("Social Media Marketing Communications - Boundless Open Textbook 1). Social media

allows marketers to refine their segmentation strategy by reaching this narrow target audience.

Additionally, networking sites also reveal vast amounts of information about prospective interest

in products and services. Today, new semantic analysis provided by social media allow
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marketers to detect buying signals based on shared and posted content, and, in turn, help vendors

target relevant prospects, while letting marketers to run micro-targeted campaigns, all of which

took months to put together in the past ("Social Media Marketing Communications - Boundless

Open Textbook 1). Therefore, social networks make it ever more important for companies to

ensure their online exposure ties directly to their brand image and messaging.

Additionally, advertisers can now engage audiences and create compelling content,

allowing brands to build authenticity and loyalty among users due to the viral and collaborative

nature of social media. Take Facebook and Twitters posts titled sponsored that appear on

everyones timeline for example. This is because ads look different on social media due to the

fact that marketing programs center their efforts to create content that attracts attention and

encourages readers to press the share button displayed below it ("Social Media Marketing

Communications - Boundless Open Textbook 2). As a result, a brands corporate message

spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it appears to come from a trusted,

online friend, rather than from the company itself via the Sunday paper like years prior. Social

media has started this trend due to the fact that networking sites allow users to retweet or

repost comments written by the creator of the product themselves. Therefore, word-of-mouth

promotions are encouraging others to engage with the company in a deeper manner. As

information about the brand is broadcasted and shared across each social network, more traffic is

brought to a companys website, resulting in earned media rather than paid media like years past,

while still proving to serve as a lead generator of favorable publicity ("Social Media Marketing

Communications - Boundless Open Textbook 1). Furthermore, social networking has now

allowed brands to have conversations and interact with each follower, something unheard of

prior to social media. Again, each personal interaction can instill and strengthen brand loyalty
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amongst followers and thus more potential customers ("Social Media Marketing

Communications - Boundless Open Textbook 2). As a result, social media has become the part

of the communications ecosystem that works collectively to create an enjoyable and seamless

consumer experience that was originally unknown to the general public.

Moreover, making information available is no longer enough in todays day and age. Our

grandparents and even parents grew up relying on traditional outlets for sources of news, such as

newspapers, magazines, and corporations, for information, and then they would indulge in it.

Social media has created the shift away from those beloved traditional outlets to a more digital

friendly time period. Nowadays, audiences expect to be able to choose what they read, and

people even believe that they should be given the opportunity to contribute to the content (The

Social Media Revolution: Exploring the Impact on Journalism and News Media

Organizations" 1). According to Jack Loechner, Newspapers have a legacy of breaking news

and uncovering stories of historic proportion, yet they are losing ground to a generation of

consumers embracing digital and mobile alternatives (The Social Media Revolution: Exploring

the Impact on Journalism and News Media Organizations" 2). This is because younger

generations lack patience, and therefore desire speedy news and information, something social

media has to offer. However, it is not only the millennials who are shifting over with the times.

That being said, every social network is now a news platform. In fact, 30% of the general

population gets news from Facebook singlehandedly, that number including those who grew up

reading the newspaper themselves (Anderson and Caumont 1). It is even more significant that

88% of millennials, our generation, retrieve their news from Facebook alone, and that is not even

including the variety of social network sites that also serve as news outlets, such as Twitter and

Instagram. People who describe themselves as active news and information seekers are those
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who are most likely to use certain social networks for news purposes(How Millennials Use and

Control Social Media 1). Data even suggests that Facebook may be increasing news awareness

and consumption in ways that even its most dedicated users do not anticipate or intend (How

Millennials Use and Control Social Media 2). As a result, what began as a place to connect with

friends has become a place to find out whats going on in the world as news consumption and

awareness among the general public is rapidly increasing due to the rise of social media.

While social networks may be the place that people bump into news, many people engage

more actively with the information once they are there. Social media has allowed society to

become actively involved in the news in ways that were not entirely possible in more traditional

platforms. This is because users are now able to share the information themselves, via the

share button seen each day on social media sites. In fact, people are even covering stories

themselves and are currently playing a role in the number of recent breaking news events. In

addition to sharing news on social media, others are also covering the news themselves, by

posting photos or videos of news events (The Social Media Revolution: Exploring the Impact

on Journalism and News Media Organizations" 3). Accordingly, 14% of social media users post

news events on their own sites, something unheard of years ago (Anderson and Caumont 1).

Likewise, social media helps gather more, and sometimes better, material because a wider range

of voices, ideas, and eyewitnesses are collected quicker than ever before (Bakhurst 1). Social

networking is valuable because it allows different and younger audiences to engage in news, as

well, because social media speaks to a variety of people (Bakhurst 2). People find social media

especially useful in part because they are able to follow news recommended by people on the

social network sites of their choosing. That is because a majority of people say they get their

news while they are on the platform doing something else (Bakhurst 1). Additionally, the news
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found on the most popular websites appeals to many different groups of people due to the fact

that it is coming from people you have chosen to follow. Therefore, it is argued that social media

also exposes people to different opinions and views because news itself has not changed, the way

we consume it has. Thus, more people are experiencing a diverse array of news stories because

of social media.

Today, there is a tremendous variety of social networking sites, and one can only

speculate what the future of social media may look like in years to come, but it is clear that it

will exist in some form as long as humans are alive. As social media has advanced over time and

become more popular, there has been a major shift in the integration of social media into our

everyday lives as depicted through its role in interpersonal relationships, its popularity among

businesses, and its access to relevant news and information. Overtime, society has grown into a

more user friendly environment due to the introduction of social media nineteen short years ago.

The world has witnessed an increasing admiration in all areas of technology, but despite every

change to come to the web, social media has singlehandedly created the most insightful impact

on society as a whole.
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Works Cited

Anderson, Monica, and Andrea Caumont. "How Social Media Is Reshaping News." Pew
Research Center RSS. N.p., 24 Sept. 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-
news/>.

Bakhurst, Kevin. "How Has Social Media Changed the Way Newsrooms Work?" BBC News
Channel. N.p., 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/09/ibc_in_amsterdam.html>.

Bennett, Shea. "88% of Companies Are Using Social Media for Marketing [STUDY]."
SocialTimes. N.p., 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-companies/502447>.

Fowlkes, Jasmine. "Viewpoint: Why Social Media Is Destroying Our Social Skills." USA Today.
Gannett, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.
<http://college.usatoday.com/2012/10/11/opinion-why-social-media-is-destroying-our-
social-skills/>.

Hendricks, Drew. "Complete History of Social Media: Then And Now." Small Business Trends.
N.p., 06 May 2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2016. <https://smallbiztrends.com/2013/05/the-
complete-history-of-social-media-infographic.html>.

"How Millennials Use and Control Social Media." American Press Institute RSS. N.p., 01 Oct.
2015. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.
<https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-
research/millennials-social-media/>.

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 8 Nov.
2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-
lonely/308930/>.

Jain, Rachna. 4 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Relationships : Social Media Examiner."
Social Media Examiner. N.p., 30 June 2016. Web. 9 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/4-ways-social-media-is-changing-your-
relationships/>.

"Social Media Marketing Communications - Boundless Open Textbook." Boundless. N.p., n.d.
Web. 8 Nov. 2016. <https://www.boundless.com/marketing/textbooks/boundless-
marketing-textbook/social-media-marketing-15/introduction-to-social-media-and-digital-
marketing-98/social-media-marketing-communications-481-4111/>.

"The History of Social Media: Social Networking Evolution! | History Cooperative." History
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<http://historycooperative.org/the-history-of-social-media/>.
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"The History of Social Networking." Digital Trends. N.p., 12 May 2016. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-social-networking/>.

"The Social Media Revolution: Exploring the Impact on Journalism and News Media
Organizations." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.
<http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/202/the-social-media-revolution-exploring-
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