Social media is so deeply integrated with our daily lives now that it’s hard to remember a time when these platform weren’t around. The first platform, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997. In less than twenty years, these platforms have changed the way commerce, healthcare, and politics works.
Here are five ways social media changed the world.
Whether you sell ebooks or hunting gear, business has moved online and having a presence on social media is now an absolute necessity. Social media skills are now front and center for marketers and most businesses pay a lot of money to track every mention and sentiment about their product on these sites. Now that you can tweet at the President, get a refund from an airline, and get customer service on any popular social platform, it’s safe to say business marketing will never be the same again.
Organized political action
This trend has been both destructive and productive over the past decade. Organizing a political rally or protest used to be a lot more time-consuming. Now, rallies and counter-rallies are organized and populated within minutes. From the Arab Spring to Earth Day, social media has transformed politics and is shaping democracies across the world.
Twitter may be the most immediate news outlet online. There’s a good chance a hurricane, terrorist attack, or flood has been live-tweeted before it makes its way into the mainstream media’s feed. So, it helps that a lot of these social media giants have built safety and crisis-assistance features into the platform. Facebook allows you to send donations to charities in the area and your friends can broadcast their whereabouts during an emergency. Social media is helping keep millions of users safe and well-informed.
From anonymous online psychotherapy sessions on Skype to basic health advice on Twitter, healthcare is being transformed by social media. Experts and government agencies now have a fast and convenient platform to broadcast tips and information about dealing with sudden epidemics. The recent Zika outbreak was widely reported on social media far ahead of mainstream media. However, this immediacy has its drawbacks. Non-experts and fraudsters can misguide the public just as easily. Most people struggle to tell the difference between a genuine source and fake news on social media.
Finally, social media is changing the one aspect of our digital lives that truly need disruption – money. P2P loans, small donations, and even financial advice from online bots are all helping to change the financial system. With banks moving their customer services and online features to these platforms, social media sites could be the banks of the future.
These are just some of the ways social media has already changed the world. It’s important to note that these platforms have been genuinely popular for less than a decade, so the full impact of social media may not be recognizable just yet.