Social Media – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

This is part of a speech I gave at Toastmasters last night and I figured if I’ve done the hard work why not turn it into a blog!

I know a lot of people who are still very cynical about social media and watch from a distance whilst there are others who have completely immersed themselves in it (sometimes a little too much!). I can’t preach against that at all, after all social media is how I make a living but sometimes we need to look at all angles of it to see the good, the bad and the ugly…

Social media is people connecting online across the world, interacting using a variety of forms such as blogs, social networking sites, photo & video sharing, forums and other online communities. It is an opportunity for everyone to share content, personal opinions, swap different perspectives and insights.

It sounds great, but how is this affecting Society? Is it making us a better more cohesive network because we can share more information or actually breaking down communication and causing problems?

Lets look at the Good…

From a personal point of view social media keeps me in close contact with friends and family who live far away. It also provides me with a way to pay the bills as Social Media Consultancy and Training is the service I provide!

83% of social media users believe platforms like Twitter and Facebook help them make new friends.

25% of them believe social networks have boosted their confidence.

It has helped talented musicians and singers who couldn’t get a foot in the door to become well known and launch their careers. And some not so talented if you know who Justin Beiber is…

A campaign for Macmillan Cancer Support was launched over social media at the end of 2010. It was designed to raise awareness of cancer sufferers struggling to pay their fuel bills. An online woollen scarf was created to form a petition highlighting poverty and fuel prices.  When you answered the question “what makes you feel warm?” a virtual knitting machine wove that response into an ever-extending scarf and the woolly petition was presented to Downing Street.

85% of those who responded to the petition also signed up to MacMillan’s e-campaigner network making it the most successful and cost effective customer acquisition programme the charity had ever run. The scarf incidentally ran to over 127.32 metres or 417 feet. That’s longer than a rugby pitch.

Those definitely sound like benefits to me.

But then as with everything there’s the Bad…

We are British and very well known for not talking to each other on the tube, passing in the street or sat in waiting rooms and now we have a fabulous excuse not to with the growth of the Smartphone market.

73% of Smartphone users access social media networks through apps at least once a day.

50% of Smartphones are connecting to Facebook every hour of every day.

40% of people spend more time socializing online than they do face-to-face

So now we are staring at our phones and making even less eye contact! It does not sound encouraging for face to face interaction does it? We know those stats will grow.

And there is certainly the Ugly…(or in my eyes, the downright stupid)…

Last year Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy a major international website hosting company, thought it a marvellous idea to release a video of him shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe. The result was PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, closed their account and urged many other customers to do the same which they did.

This summer 3 athletes were kicked out of the Olympics for tweeting racist comments about their competitors. Why would you ruin years of hard work and dedication by doing that?

And there was the arrest of a 17 year old boy for tweeting abuse to Tom Daley, one of our Olympic diving stars, after he came fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform diving event. This boy must have been shocked at the wave of anger from Tom’s supporters defending him and the police arriving on his doorstep. All for one silly thoughtless moment of anger which he couldn’t control.

As Duncan Goodhew, gold & bronze Olympic medallist in swimming from 1980 and deputy mayor of the Olympic Village said, “Social media in one sense is fantastic, but turned the wrong way round it is very very personal and it destroys people’s lives.”

Where does this leave us in regards to social media? I think the word is ‘educated’. Lets take these examples and decide to use the of power social media only for the good, to benefit others so they are not lonely or cold, to raise awareness of charities and their good work and to keep our friends and family close.  And in my case, business…so I can afford to feed the cat 😉

(sources: AllTwitterHubspotFigaro Digital).
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About Sarah Fletcher

Founder of Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic. Public Speaker on Social Media Magic. Social Media Magic Training, Strategy and Management boosting your brand, productivity and effectiveness. Lover of street dance, food, all things purple, social media and life in general! Follow me on Twitter too @MushroomSouffle! www.mushroom-souffle.co.uk
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