Importance of Social Media In Our Lives

Social Media is no longer a fancy term, instead, it is a necessity in today’s times for both, individuals and businesses alike. The importance of social media in our lives is now unquestionable.

 

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For most of us, social media is an important part of our lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, choose your favorite. Also, there is no denying that our days are incomplete without these sites. In the year gone by, the importance of social media was even more appreciated.

 

The year 2020 has been quite a different one and unlike any of the previous years in many aspects. With countries going under lockdown for months; our needs, priorities, and lifestyle too had taken a shift. The way we earn, spend, learn, and even socialize was unlike what we did before 2020. Since we couldn’t move out of our homes for days or even months, internet and social media sites were our only resort. It was during this time that we realized the real importance of social media and how impactful it is on our lives.

 

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What is Social Media?

To speak formally, as per the Cambridge Dictionary, social media is defined as “websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone”. Now if you split the words social media, then, social which comes from the Latin word ‘socius’ means friend, and media refer to means of mass communication. Thus, social media in simple terms can be referred to as an informal platform for mass communication.

 

Social Media Characteristics

The fact that we all are indulged on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. proves how common and important social media is. It has become a part of our everyday life. Before understanding the importance of social media in our lives, let us learn the aspects or characteristics which make social media a unique, massively popular medium with widespread use. Let us see these characteristics below.

  1. Easily accessible: The main aspect of social media which contributes to its enormous success, is the ease of access it provides to its user. Anyone with a mobile device or a computer along with an internet connection can easily become a user. Thus, with internet connection being easily and inexpensively accessible to the Indian population, the popularity of social media has grown manifold. Everyone is just a click away.
  2. Create and share visuals and content: Users can create content using visuals, audio, or text. They can start private forums, public discussions, audio pods, and even blogs. Therefore, we can find content, visuals, and audio across genres and on any varied topic. Social media encourages creativity and novelty.
  3. Communication to a large group at the same time: Social media’s characteristic of being instantaneous helps in its widespread use and extreme popularity. Within a couple of seconds, your post reaches your complete circle of friends or group at the same time. In fact, what one shares, can be further shared by others. This will help gain popularity or go viral. In recent times, there have been many occasions wherein, posts have gone viral within minutes of their upload.
  4. Everyone is an active participant: On social media platforms, all the users are participants. Compare it with traditional media like newspapers, wherein, information is simply imparted. Social media platforms work on a two-way basis. You can share your experience, give your opinions, reviews, exchange information on a real-time basis.
  5. Flexible and dynamic: Since users are active participants; the contents and tools are continuously updated and improved. Newer demands are generated and changes are a continuous part of the system. From the app’s point of view, the users have requested a timely update. This fixes the bugs and improves the system.
  6. Cost-effective: Not to forget that social media engagement is light on your pocket. The user needs to bear only the internet expense to enter the social media world. Also, retaining on these platforms does not require any cost. Also, you need not spend lots of money to advertise or communicate. In fact, it’s highly cost-effective compared to other modes of advertisement or communication channels.

 

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The common type of Social Media sites

Below are the few most popular types of social media sites:

  • Social networking sites: These are the most popular social media sites. As the name suggests, these sites help in networking people and are widely used. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most commonly used social networking sites.
  • Media sharing sites: These sites are focused more on visuals; sharing photos and videos. Examples of these sites are Instagram and YouTube.
  • Social blogging sites: Blogging has been in trend for quite some time now. Creating and distributing content and making aware of the same has been a popular activity on the internet. Medium and Tumblr are common examples of blogging websites.
  • Discussion sites: Discussion networks are very informative platforms. You can post a question or answer any, also you to understand the trends and sentiment surrounding the topic. Reddit and Quora are two popular discussion sites.

 

Social Media Statistics

The importance of social media can easily be understood if we know how impactful social media is in terms of its usage. Social media has a growing popularity worldwide which can be seen from the data below. When we talk about social media, it is usually irrespective of geographical boundaries. Studies suggest, one of the most popular online activities that people undertake, is social media usage. Let us take a look at the following statistical data published by J. Clement, a research expert covering the internet and e-commerce. The statistics are based on the number of social media users worldwide and also a number of social media users in India (Statista) as of January 2020.

World wide data

  • Number of people using social media- 3.6 billion
  • Social Media usage rate – 49%
  • Average time spent by internet users on social media 144 minutes per day

 

The Indian angle

In India, with easy access to the internet in recent times, the Indian population has been quite loyal to social media platforms. With just over 326.1 million users in 2018, the country is expected to reach up to 447.9 million users by 2023. India in fact, has the highest number of Facebook users worldwide which is close to 300 million as of Jan 2020. Also, WhatsApp and TikTok mobile downloads were highest in India in 2020.

 

As the country inclined more and more towards social media, the Indian Government took the Digital India initiative to tap on this opportunity. Not too far behind is India’s digital advertising industry, which is worth over 160 billion INR and is estimated to reach 560 billion INR by 2023.

 

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Importance of Social Media

With almost half of the world’s population using social media, the importance of social media is undoubted. Individuals and businesses both are grateful for this effective, inexpensive, and fast mode of mass communication. In the year 2020, its importance has been even more cemented. From people in smaller towns to the metro cities and from start-up and small-scale businesses to the big giant everyone needs social media. Without wasting more time let us now move to the importance of social media in our lives.

For individuals:

Man is a social animal. We all like to be surrounded by our loved ones and get connected to as many of our known ones as possible. Below is the importance of social media for individuals.

  1. To stay connected with friends and family: The utmost importance of social media is that it helps in staying in touch with our loved ones. You get to know what are your friends or family doing. Even without meeting up too often, social media helps in creating and sustaining that emotional bond.
  2. To share your life: Social media is a great place to share your life events. You can share your photos, videos, stories on the platform. Your virtual avatar is nowadays perceived to be the real you. Since, sharing about your achievements, your happiness, sorrow, makes you feel that you have people who are ready to listen to you. This makes you feel less lonely.
  3. To stay updated with current news and events: Most of us use social media to stay up to date about current events and news. Social media also helps us in giving some insights on current topics. In fact, breaking news these days are spread vigorously through Twitter and WhatsApp. Also, any new development in your interest areas like science and technology, food, lifestyle, fashion, etc. are learned through this medium.
  4. To share opinion or feedback: These days, if you would want to buy something, you generally look for customer reviews or feedback. Product or service reviews are easily available on social media to make informed decisions. Social media is a great place to learn about others’ opinions as well as share your own. Your feedback, good or bad can be shared easily through social media. A lot of businesses now have a designated social media team. This team responds to customer queries and grievances that are channeled via a social media platform.
  5. To find new people or friends: With more and more people joining social media, it allows you to make new friends, meet new people from any corner of the world.
  6. To find entertaining content: The web space is filled with content from various genres. Social media sites are the most commonplace to get these contents based on your interest. It helps you in finding content that is entertaining and gives you a break from your daily activities. It has now become a source of entertainment too.

 

For businesses:

For businesses these days, it is difficult to thrive without taking help from social media. Thus, let us list the importance of social media for businesses.

  • Brand building
  1. To build a brand: Considering almost half of the world’s population is now on social media, it is definitely one of the best places to build a brand name for your business. Continuous customer engagement helps in building and strengthening the brand-building process. Businesses can build their own brand identity as per their niche and give a human voice to it. Social media can help create a human connection with the brand. Businesses these days understand that many customers connect with the emotional value behind the brand or products. So, many brands introduce the people who make up their company. This is one of the many ways through which the humanizing of brands are done through social media.
  2. To build brand awareness and differentiation: With high competition in almost every field, businesses strive a lot on their brand awareness and brand-differentiating. Social media can help them attain that by giving their brand a distinct voice. Brands can create their own identity by having a creative advertising campaign. There is a necessity to continuously engage your customers. For example, a consistent color combination, a typical font style, or a particular way of write-ups can help in differentiating a brand from another.
  3. To have a brand recall: Creating awareness amongst your audience, differentiating yourself from your competitors, and brand recall are some aspects where social media is very useful. With continuous customer engagement through social media, brands have a high recall value. Brands that provide continuous informative and entertaining posts are usually on top of customers’ minds when they go out purchasing. In today’s world, out of sight is literally out of mind.
  • Growth
  1. To generate lead: Social media helps in the easy generation of leads as the platforms consist of both; customers as well as potential customers. Social media is the best way to tap into the customers irrespective of region, location, and varied taste preferences. Also, the cross-selling of products to an already existing customer is easier through social media. Since there is huge data available based on customer preference, lead generation is done sometimes through mass communication or based on the target audience.
  2. To boost sales: Sales and profits are the key factors why companies wish to make their presence felt on social media. We all understand that there are enormous opportunities available that can be converted into sales. The key to that is how you pitch it to your audience. Without any intermediary, businesses communicate directly to their target audience. Social media marketing is already considered a critical aspect.
  3. To increase website traffic: Ranking in SEO means the position of your website in the search engine result page. Businesses are thriving hard to improve their rankings for which the main driving factor is website traffic. If the business is active on social media, it creates curiosity about the brand and people would want to know more about the company or the product. It would increase website traffic which can, in turn, lead to better ranking on the search engines. Higher website visits are possible if your business is talked about on social media. More and more references would also be generated. This in turn would boost sales.
  • Communication
  1. To boast about achievement: On achieving an award or any other kind of success, sharing it with your customers is very important. This reinforces customers’ faith in the brand and attracts more customers. Customers always want to be associated with a brand or entity which is successful or is achieving success. Tell them about your success story or a landmark achievement. What better way to say it than social media?
  2. To safeguard your reputation: Things are not always hunky-dory when doing business. When businesses get into uncalled negative publicity, the best way to clear any doubt or grievance from your customers is through communication. Many customer feedbacks are channeled through social media these days. This means that even a single customer dissatisfaction can harm your reputation in a big way. Businesses must share their side of the story professionally and politely to avoid causing any further damage.
  3. To inform about philanthropy efforts: Businesses these days have realized the importance of social responsibilities that they have towards society and the environment. Businesses undertake various initiatives for this purpose. This in turn helps them in achieving a respectable position in the industry. In order to earn respect and goodwill, these efforts are many times highlighted through social media.
  4. To strengthen customer service: People follow brands on social media. They expect that there not only be communication from the brand side but also disperse their issues. Social media unlike traditional media works on a two-way mechanism. Customers can thus put up their complaints if any with the brand’s social media page. By using this medium, brands are expected to resolve the queries on time.
  • Research and insights
  1. To obtain customer insights: Customer insights are customer feedback and preferences. These are easily and quickly available from social media platforms. These customer insights help businesses make strategic decisions. It also helps them in understanding the brand value and sentiment around the brand.
  2. To know about your competitor’s standing: Since businesses are actively being part of social media, you can spy on your competitor’s standing in the business. Their take on the changing customer demands, the way they promote their products, the type of advertisement technique they undertake, etc. everything is out in open. Social media has made businesses more customer-centric than ever before.
  3. To understand your brand’s position in the industry: There are various analyses and tools available on the social media platform that help you gauge your band’s position in the market. This data is available on a real-time basis. Social media can help in gathering trends and providing competitive analysis of the businesses.
  • Advertising
  1. To reach the masses inexpensively: Social media is an inexpensive way to reach your audience. Compared to other mediums of advertisement, social media is relatively cost-effective. The cost to run the ads is very less. Also, its reach is unquestionable.
  2. To reach an audience through influencers: Influencers on social media are more like celebrities in the virtual world. Many brands get in touch with these influencers to reach out to a maximum audience and promote their brands.
  3. To create content as a marketing tool: In today’s times, content is considered the king. The best way to keep the customer engaged is by providing resourceful content. Businesses provide content in form of blogs, snippets, etc. They act are more like a marketing tool than just information articles.

 

Top social media sites

After understanding what is social media, its characteristics, and the importance it holds for individuals and businesses, let us now see which are the top social media websites. The data is based on the percentage of share the website hold between Dec 2019 to Dec 2020.

Social Media Stats worldwide (Gs Statcounter)

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The data gives an easy understanding of the most popular websites globally in terms of social networking. Facebook leads the way worldwide with 68.39% of the total share, with Pinterest being the far second with 13.61%. YouTube and Instagram rank third and fourth with 4.27% and 2.25% respectively. The data is inclusive of all platforms that are, desktop, tablet, and mobile phones, for the year range Dec 2019 to Dec 2020.

 

Social Media Stats- India (Gs Statcounter)

Importance of social media image

 

In India, Facebook is the most popular social media website with 77.26% of the share. As mentioned earlier in the article, India has the highest Facebook users with almost 300 million users as of Jan 2020. YouTube has a market share of 9.03%and Pinterest with 7.15%. the data is for the time range between Dec 2019 and Dec 2020.

 

Statistical data might not interest you much unless the importance of social media is put into practice and at the correct place. To benefit or gain importance for your business regarding all points mentioned earlier in the article, it is of utmost critical to understand where your audience spends most of their time.

 

Thus, engaging with your audience on these popular websites would not only help your business grab more eyeballs but also make your campaign successful. A relatively different approach would be required for different websites, like LinkedIn would have a more formal and professional approach, whereas, Instagram would focus more on visuals.

 

Importance of social media – concluding thoughts

 

Since its inception in 1997, social media has grown leaps and bounds. Also, the importance of social media has time and again proved that this medium cannot be ignored. The ever-changing nature of technology makes social media one of the fastest-growing, improving, and one of the most impactful mass communication platforms.

 

The future of social media is very difficult to predict considering the drastic change it went through in the past decade. However, it can be easily said that social media is here to stay for a really long time, maybe long enough until the end of the human race.

Author:
A financial enthusiast with post graduation in financial planning, I have developed an interest in content writing over a period of time. With a never stop learning approach and a passion for writing, I am currently acting as an intern with IIM Skills.

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