Advantages and disadvantages of social media
This is article aims to explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of social media. It explores the topic from the perspective of both commercial and personal uses. Social media has clearly changed many things; however, it has certain limitations as well.
Social media definition
Social media refer to websites and other online means of communication that people use to create and share information in order to build up social and professional networks.
According to Cambridge Dictionary (2023) the terms ‘social media’ refer to websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone.
Popular social media in the world
According to Statista (2022) top and popular social media in the world by number of active users are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, We Chat, TikTok, Douyin, QQ, Sina Weibo, Telegram, and Snapchat.
Advantages of social media for businesses
In order for businesses to be noticed and drive home their messages, advertisements have always been essential. Even in this technologically advanced age, most are still advertising using the traditional formats of news articles, posters, and television and radio advertising. This inevitably drives up cost. One of the key advantages for businesses using social media is the low cost of advertising.
Posting online and reaching thousands, possibly millions of consumers has never been easier or quicker. This method is used by giants like Amazon, Oxfam, HSBC and most other businesses of all sizes around the world.
Social media gives the added advantage of a global reach, something that television and magazines would offer at a hefty price. Similarly, businesses can encourage their current and potential consumers to follow their activities and promotions in social media. In this way, they can gain their loyalty as well (BBC, 2021).
Another key advantage for businesses is the quick and efficient ability to communicate with customers. Most retailers and services now offer customers the option to communicate with them via Twitter, Instagram and even WhatsApp. This is highly appealing to customers who do not want to sit in a call waiting queue, listening to muzak to resolve their query. Customers can send them a message, go about their daily lives while waiting for a response and then reply when convenient. It is an efficient way of getting the job done.
Disadvantages of social media for businesses
Even though there are definite advantages they can somewhat be outweighed by the other side. As easily as consumers can communicate with businesses and give feedback, they can also just as quickly communicate their discord. Unless businesses have a dedicated team to deal with general customer service and online service, people will quickly tire of the inefficiency and inability to deal with issues. This can be extremely damaging on a very public scale.
Having a dedicated team for the social media aspect of a business can be quite costly too. Businesses need to have specialists in IT, security, and media, not to mention customer service around the clock. Social media never sleeps, and businesses need to adapt to that.
Advantages of social media for personal use
One of the best things about social media is undoubtedly the free and regular communication to be had with family and friends. For anyone who remembers, gone are the days when people could only use a limited number of text messages, abbreviating and cutting down on what they wrote and who they messaged.
Nowadays, people can message, record video, send voice notes, GIFs, and even cartoon versions of themselves via social media. Social media is extremely useful for people who cannot get to loved ones, disabled people or even those suffering from any sort of anxiety. Social media is an aid to help and therefore can be deemed as a necessity.
Even when people are not using social media to communicate, it is a useful tool for learning that gives access to experts and alternate views, news, mentors, and influencers. It has given everyone access to learning in a way that has never been available before. People all over the world, whether they are advantaged or disadvantaged in any way, have access to information to improve their situations and minds. Social media can be used to help enable change in their communities, to change things for the better.
Disadvantages of social media for personal use
No doubt that with all good there is a flip side. The dark side of personal social media use is the amount of time that can be wasted in the use of it. Though this can affect older people in the same way, it is a growing concern for younger people who can sometimes struggle to find alternative uses to fill their time. The majority of people who had an upbringing before the advent of social media were able to experience a lot of things that the youth of today are not exposed to, for various reasons.
Most social media use technology that incorporates blue light. This is mostly regarded as unharmful, even though it gives users blurry vision or eyestrain. Blue light can trick the brain into thinking it’s daylight and stop the bodies from producing the sleep hormone, melatonin. The long-term effects of too much social media can also lead to mood disorders, including depression.
Recognising the above challenges, Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok has introduced new guidelines and limits its exposure to the young people of China (BBC, 2021). Taking strong measures to be unavailable to teens from the hours of 10pm to 6am, ensuring that educational and motivational content is streamed on their pages and lapsing 5 seconds between each video so that users can be reminded to take a break when necessary.
We hope the article ‘Advantages and disadvantages of social media’ has been helpful. You may also like reading PESTEL analysis of the social media industry. Other relevant articles for you are:
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Last update: 05 February 2023
BBC (2021) China: Children given daily time limit on Douyin – its version of TikTok, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-58625934 (accessed 11 January 2022)
Cambridge Dictionary (2023) Social media, available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/social-media (accessed 05 February 2023)
Statista (2022) Global social networks ranked by number of users, available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/ (accessed 12 January 2022)
Author: Joe David
Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.