Social networking has become a major part of society. Even big businesses and celebrities are jumping on the social networking bandwagon. Many people wake up each day and check social websites first thing in the morning instead of reaching for a newspaper. According to Mashable.com, as of June 2010, American Internet users spend more than 22 per cent of their online time using a social networking site. Since people are spending such a large amount of time surfing social networks, it is important to point out some of the positive and negative effects that social networking can have on a society.
Helping Small Businesses
Social networking can help small businesses in a big way. Traditional mediums such as print magazine ads and radio commercials can cost thousands of dollars that some small businesses just don't have in a down economy. Social networking allows small business owners to connect with prospects and clients for free, costing nothing but time and energy. Marketers at small companies can post coupons to Facebook groups or run promotions on Twitter. In addition to generating revenue this way, companies also can get positive and negative feedback directly from consumers.
A negative aspect of social networking is that it can be addictive. Spending too much time on social networking sites can cause people to lose focus on tasks at work or around the house. Social networking needs to be used in moderation. If someone is spending so much time on social networks that they are not sleeping enough hours per night or are ignoring friends and family that want to spend time with them in person, social networking can be a serious problem.
Equaliser in Publishing and Marketing
Social networking sites are putting the worlds of promotion and publication on an equal playing field. Before social networking, much of the publication world and promotion world was dominated by industry leaders and celebrities. Now anyone can create a product, image or brand and find a following online. Ebooks are gaining more respect and popularity thanks to electronic reading devices. In the days before social networking, unknown authors would have to query big publishing houses and hope for a bite. Now anyone who believes in their book can create an ebook on their own and promote it on social websites.
Sharing Too Much
Another drawback to social networking is that some users are simply sharing too much information. People can lose their jobs or a friendship over leaking information on social networks. Even if a user of a social site has her privacy settings on the highest level, their information can still be passed on by someone on their friends list. It doesn't take much for an angry follower to copy and paste a status or download a picture if they are looking for revenge.