It is amazing how social media has become responsible for so much that is wrong in the modern world. Even if the issues existed prior to the advent of social media.
A local school had an issue with drugs among the pupils. Interviewed the Headmaster threw social media into the mix of responsibilities. Now I went to school in the Sixties and Seventies, and there were issues with drugs way back then. Nothing to do with social media, obviously. It was pop music that was the cause then. Television was terrible in the 50s. It was the reason young people were so disenfranchised from normal society. That was an easy out, rather than the events of the Second World War, the Cold War and a lot more. Radio and record players were also seen as ‘dangerous’ when they first arrived.
Just listen to the news on radio and television and you will start to notice that social media is just casually thrown into the soup of disorder. The press too. Not that any of these media channels have an axe to grind. Or maybe they do.
Another angle tells a different story. Like all the developments in technology, social media actually opens up the world. Television is a complete window on the world, with news, documentaries and endless streams of information. Radio has broadened our musical horizons beyond any imagination and brings news and drama through the wonderful Radio 4.
Social media is also broadening our horizons. From seeing places that our friends are visiting, sharing our own experiences, hearing the different views from around the world, seeing videos that explain the reason why politics is the way it is in, for example, Spain and Catalonia at the moment.
We are also staying in touch with friends and family. Photos of children growing up are seen the day they are taken on the other side of the world. Old friends catch up through a quick search on Facebook or Twitter.
The news does not just happen around us, we can comment, voice our opinions, say what we think. Sport is interactive as Twitter comments add the spice of being in a crowd, with humour and vitriol coming in equal measures.
But Nick Robinson of the BBC does not like it. He preferred the days when the new was owned by the channels, and people like him were the ones who told us how it was. Why Nick, because people on Twitter are vocal in their analysis of you and your opinion?
In marketing, we are also seeing a dramatic change. Word of mouth is now social media sharing. I have posted photos of Ballycastle that have been seen around the world, resulting in lots of people wanting to visit. Everyone is a part of the marketing of their own location as they show it off with pride.
Our hospitality clients are opening new venues, putting on events, offering great deals and taking bookings through social channels. There is more competition as small venues that would have found marketing difficult, can now get their name out there if they know what they are doing.
More importantly, brands and products now know that they are going to get reviews. If they are not up to scratch, it will not be long before the customer tells the world. The power of the consumer is now real. The old saying “the customer is king” was hot air. Now the customer can buy from around the world, check out prices at the click of a button, tell their friends on social media to either buy or avoid a place, a product or a service.
So the next time you see the world’s ills laid at the foot of social media, forget it. You are empowered, you can choose what to do, listen to, watch and engage with like never before. Vested interests may not like it, but it ain’t gonna change.