Social Media: Influence, Opportunities and Power

Social media is one avenue that holds incredible power to drive change. Its success has been noted on a number of occasions. Be it Twitter or Facebook, using social platforms for spurring movement has revolutionized society in fundamental ways. Future leaders as well as the public are well aware of its potential and influence. 


The Influence of Social Media 


The reach and influence of social media in today’s time is undeniably indisputable. The phenomenon, which has only boomed over the last decade or so, has revolutionized several aspects of society at its very core. Be it business, politics, education, healthcare, its impact has seeped deeply into the fabric of our society. “It’s estimated that by 2018, 2.44 billion people will be using social networks.” It seems very likely that our social media culture will only grow in the coming generations. As the world becomes more dependent on digital platforms and technology as a whole, communication will inevitably be more instantaneous, allowing people to form connections and access information at an astronomically quick pace.  


 Social Media and the Opportunities for Change 


Several social media outlets have used their platforms for inspiring a positive change. Twitter, for instance, raised money to build a school classroom in Tanzania via Tweetsgiving. This initiative was a project of epic change and the campaign went viral, raising $10,000 in just 48 hours. Examples like this and many others shed light into how advantageous social media can be in spurring change. Since millions across the globe are members of the social media culture, it comes as no surprise that goals such as raising funds or highlighting issues that need attention can be hugely successful via social platforms.   


Nonetheless, there are times when media buzz around social media has been purely that: media buzz. With the number of platforms for voicing opinions growing, it can be difficult to ignite a change, depending on the cause itself; however, the opportunity to do so is certainly present. With effective marketing and leverage, global citizens can unite for an initiative and bring forth positive change.  


What does this mean to Future Leaders and the General Public? 


The fact that “more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush” speaks volumes about the incredible power social media holds. Those in leadership positions are certainly not hidden to social media’s vast reach and have, understandably so, tapped into its power. For example, “social websites have played an important role in many elections around the world, including in the U.S., Iran, and India. They have also served to rally people for a cause, and have inspired mass movements”. What does this mean for future leaders? Essentially, social media is the platform to use to help build capital, brand and name. Engaging with the public through digital platforms and harnessing that power to leverage individual standing is critical. As for the public itself, the power of social media is certainly very much on-hand.  


People across the world – irrespective of nationality, gender, age or any other barometer, can be a part of social media and contribute to its impact. In addition, because social media is so widely available to anyone with Internet access, the distribution of power has shifted. Earlier, there was a hierarchy in terms of who held the power to voice their opinions and distribute facts, however this is no longer the case. Anyone, and I mean anyone today can just as easily voice their opinions and provide information to the world in a manner of seconds. And because of this, the distribution of power, in a sense, has shifted on an incredible scale. The hierarchy is much less prevalent since access to various platforms is equal, provided a user has Internet access. With that many more voices participating on social networks, it’s only natural that the momentum will grow and users will have to use discernment when deciding fact from fiction. According to Max Gladwell, “social media has changed our lives [for most of us] in some meaningful way. Collectively it is changing the world for good.” Certainly the benefits of it are plentiful, but the downsides, too, need to be acknowledged. 

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