Social Networking Sites: Positive and Negative Impacts

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Psychology of Social Networking Social media are websites and tools on the internet that enables people to communicate with friends and companies. It allows people to socialize online, form online communities based on common interests. All in all, to stay connected online. Social media takes on different forms including social networking sites that I will be focusing on in this essay. Social networking sites (SNSs) allow people to create profiles and interact with people online.

Popular social networking sites include Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, blogs can also be used as a social networking site.According to Megat Ishak, the Director of Licensing Department of SKMM, social networking can bring about both positive and negative impacts on both the individual and business corporations. Variety of true and false information as well as business opportunities to name a few. In this essay, I will be focusing on why people are inclined to use social networking sites for business opportunities, and how has the variety of information in these social networking sites affected human behavior.Businesses are looking into using social networking sites to advertise for their roducts and projects.

This is because social networking sites have already proved itself that it is a lucrative site to generate more sales, and this is what businesses are looking for. According to the statistics put together by Cara Pring, 65% of the world’s top companies have active Twitter accounts and 93% of marketers rate social tools as ‘important’. The use of social networking sites have also increased traffic and brand exposure of businesses.According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012, 85% of the marketers felt that using social networking sites have increased heir brand exposure and 74% felt that traffic to their official site increased as well. There are numerous success stories of using social networking sites to bump up sales.

One excellent example is of the blender company, Blendtec. Blendtec created a series of simple and low cost, yet engaging YouTube videos. The videos are centralized around the theme of “Will It Blend”. Some of the items that are thrown into the blender are an iPhone 36, an iPad and three tennis balls.All of which are blended successfully at the end of the video.

This campaign engages the audiences y inviting them to request for the net item to be blended in the next video. According to ConceptBakery: Marketing Across Media, sales of Blendtec blenders increased by 700%. Till date, Blendtec has 425,442 subscribers in YouTube and the videos have been watched over 1 million times. This shows that social sites are great avenues to increase awareness and exposure of products.

If done right, it has the ability to greatly increase sales of the company.Another successful use of social networking sites to increase sales comes from Dunkin’ Donuts. They created a Facebook fan page and invited customers to upload photos of them and their Dunkin’ Donuts products. This will give customers a chance to enter a daily giveaway from Dunkin’ Donuts.

This attracted many customers and now, their fan page has more than 7. 1 million “Likes”. Evidently, product exposure has been achieved. This products and sharing it on Facebook, this created widespread “promotion” of Dunkin’ Donuts products hence increasing sales.Inevitably, there will always be companies who failed to increase sales using social networking sites.

Take the McDonalds Twitter campaign for example. In January 2012, McDonalds launched a Twitter campaign called the #McDstory. McDonalds’ intention was for consumers reminisce the times they had with McDonalds Happy Meals. However, the campaign was turned against them when consumers started to use the hashtag to post stories that put McDonalds in a negative light. This goes to show that there is still a substantial amount of risks in using social networking sites for marketing.

Companies have no control over what consumers will say.Another example of social media advertising that went flop was the Burger King Whopper Sacrifice in 2009. Facebook users have to unfriend” ten people from their friends list to get a coupon for free burger in Burger King. The campaign was a success initially.

Facebook users even created another page, allowing other users to add them as friends, so that they can delete them later on to claim the coupon. However, Facebook shut down the campaign after ten days, claiming that it violates Facebook regulations of privacy as the campaign notifies the deleted friend, that he has been “unfriend-ed”.Whether or not this campaign was a success is debatable. It did attract the sales that it was aiming for, and exposure was gained.

However, not all of the exposure was positive. The use of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube has become the cheapest and easiest way for business marketing. It is free to use and this is a major plus point for companies. According to Megat Ishak, Licensing Director of SKMM, companies’ aim of using minimal investment to attract maximum attention and increase sales is one of the main factors that is driving them into using these platforms.Therefore, we are seeing such a rapid increase in corporate usage of social networking sites.

On another spectrum, social networking sites can bring about negative impacts to uman behavior. The wide array of information on these platforms will cause the audience to have difficulties in distinguishing the truth and the lies. Numerous scams on these sites also cause people to become more skeptical of what is presented to them in social networking sites. According to GMA news in April 2012, email scams have been sent to various social networking sites including Pinterest.

These emails are made to look professional and real. It also pretends to be a message left to the recipient by a friend, thus tricking users of social networking sites to click on the links in the email. The link brings recipients to fake weight loss centre or fraud sites. This will inevitably heighten the awareness of social network users. They will be more skeptical of the information sent to them through these sites, for fear of being led toa phish site. Social networking sites have also made people more open about their lives.

With the surge in usage of smart phones, many people are now able to update their social sites on the go. Some of the users even upload family problems onto these sites, asking the public to determine who is right and who is in the wrong. One example is the Amanda Fong incident. Amanda Fong is a 2 months pregnant, 19 year old who uploaded CCTV footages of her being abused by her husband on to social networking site, Facebook. The videos quickly went viral with thousands of ‘shares’.

Scenes of being abused and hit by the husband, Calven accusing Fong of infidelity, numerous attempts to commit suicide and plans for abortion. However, without full knowledge of the background story, nobody can be a judge for who is in the wrong. Social networking sites also have the ability to cause anxiety issues such as Cyber-chondria. Cyber-chondria is an extreme anxiety disorder that is caused by diagnoses of various health symptoms found online.

According to a research done by Pew Research Survey Centre, in May 2011, 80% of Americans use internet to find for information that fits their medical symptoms.In a study with 3000 Britons, one third of those with headaches are convinced by their online research of their symptoms that they are suffering from a severe case of migraine while those with abdominal pains believed that they have appendicitis. Pages such as @health_n_fit on Twitter are not necessarily providing followers true ealth tips and warnings. Such information may not be correct and it might also contain outdated details. Followers should check their sources before believing and following the advices on the page or website.

In addition, according to Joni E. Johnston, from Psychology Today, it is important for users to self-screen and not self- diagnose. There are a lot of explanations for different sets of symptoms and users who are not in the medical profession might end up getting confused or get more worried about the condition they are in. Social networking sites are not going away anytime soon. With the increase in usage of smart phones and the easy access to internet today, more people will be using these sites to connect with friends and families.

Businesses thus will make use of these avenues to seek out and broaden their target audiences, to increase sales. Social networking sites are double-edged swords. When used cautiously, it is a great tool as it can be used for general purposes such as self-screening of symptoms. However, if used inappropriately and carelessly, social networking sites can bring more harm than good, increasing anxiety levels of the individual. Users of these sites must also be alert in order to avoid phishing sites.Referenceshttp://www.socialmediadefined.com/what-is-social-media/http://thesocialskinny.com/99-new-social-media-stats-for-2012/http://mashable.com/2009/02/06/social-media-smartest-brands/#ZHGAMYVmQEqy

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