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As recently as 2012, social media was still in its infancy.  MySpace was a big deal, Facebook was its up and coming “little brother” and Twitter was little more than a gleam in the eye of computer and mobile device users.  When you look at the state of social networks today, it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come in just five short years.  Social networking is now an essential part of our lives, affecting almost every sector.


Politics & Public Service


This has been one of the areas where social networks have truly made an impact.  Not long ago, we lived in a society where government was the domain of a select few, who had little connection to their constituents.  We voted them into office and then had to hope that they’d actually come through for us.  Now, the ordinary citizen is wielding far more power than ever, and thanks to social media that power reaches far beyond the voting booth.


If we have an opinion on something or would like to inspire change in our communities, we can now turn to social media and get our ideas out there in front of an audience of millions.  More importantly, we can also get those ideas directly to our legislators and they can have a much better idea of exactly what their constituents need.


Marketing & Advertising


Arguably one of the most important changes made by social networking has been giving small businesses the ability to compete actively with the big boys.  The cost of traditional advertising used to be prohibitive to these Mom and Pop shops, but now any business can reach out to a worldwide audience of perspective customers almost instantly and without spending a fortune.  It’s also easier than ever to tailor marketing campaigns to specific target audiences, making them that much more effective.


Journalism


The newsroom was one of the first places to be shaken up by the popularity of social networking and in the last few years it has been completely turned upside down.  Now that the average citizen has the ability to get information through social media at the blink of an eye, they are no longer necessarily relying on large scale media to deliver the news to them.  


This has caused journalists to get on board with social media themselves and it means they are now being held to a higher standard.  Because it is so easy to check the facts, it makes it that much more difficult for the media to get away with publishing fake news stories and we are all better off for it.


The Future


So what does all this mean for our future?  Let’s face it; social networking is not going away…in fact it’s only increasing in popularity with each passing year.  It has become an accepted part of our everyday life on all levels, both personal and professional.  When used properly it can be an effective tool, helping to improve our ability to connect and communicate and work together to build a better world.


John Atikson's illustration, Vintage Social Networking, depicting an old desk, where Skype is a black rotary dial phone, Foursquare is a globe atlas, Twitter is yellow post-it notes, LinkedIn is an old Rolodex, Instagram is a framed photograph, ouTube is the office window showing outside and Pinterest is a bulletin board, Facebook is a spiral address book and WordPress is sheets of paper with pencil on top of the desk.

Image: https://wronghands1.com/

How Social Networks Have Changed Our World

When you look at the state of social networks today, it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come in just five short years.  

ARTICLES | BY ULA NERAK

FEBRUARY 1, 2017

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