Arguments promoting the virtues of social media are abundant; as well as those that tout its faults. Of course, while participating in online discussions of any sort; whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Blogs, etc., you are basically preaching to the choir. The skeptics are those outside the realm of the virtual world who need to be educated on the positives social media and the enhancements its use can bring to their everyday lives. Just as the users of social media encompass all walks of life, so do the skeptics.
Whether they are grandparents, small business owners, politicians, teachers, rich or poor, there is a benefit to being connected online. For the purpose of this article, I am focusing on the overall use of social media platforms and not specifically social media marketing. There are more than enough professionals who do that on a daily basis.
A few of the arguments I have encountered against social media have been as follows. It is my hope to help dispel some of these misconceptions.
- Privacy concerns – Each and every platform allows the user to set privacy controls on who sees what they post on the site. In addition, no one mandates that each and every aspect of your personal life needs to be posted online. Recent news reports regarding the federal government monitoring social media sites; while important, should not be a reason for not using social media; unless you happen to be a drug dealer, terrorist or all around “bad guy”. You are in control of what you post. I am pretty certain that the federal government is not at all concerned about the most recent pictures of your trip to Disney World; unless of course it shows you with your arm around a known terrorist. Then, again, I am sure there are government agents tracking your new Disney friend and they already have their own picture of the two of you.
- Impersonality – Many argue that social media takes away from the personal interactions they have grown accustomed to. This is along the same lines of the arguments made regarding email vs. letters; texting vs. phone calls. Again, allowing social media to be your sole form of communication with friends, family and acquaintances is something only you have control over. Social media allows the user to stay in touch on a more global scale with their contacts. Social media is more as an enhancement to those relationships and should never be allowed to overtake them.
- Too Complicated – Social media can be complicated; especially for those who feel they must be active on multiple platforms at once. It is a learning process and should be eased into as with every new experience. Many are quickly turned off because they were under the impression that they needed to have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc all at the same time when first testing the social media waters. Ideally, a new user should become familiar with one platform before moving on to the next. If you are comfortable just having one account, no one is going to chastise you for it. Each platform offers help and support covering everything from the basics up to and including developing your own applications. In addition, there are various community organizations that offer classes, either for free or for a minimal charge, to help get you started. Don’t forget or be afraid to ask a family member or friend for help or guidance.
Of course, I, myself, am preaching to the choir here. However, the next time you encounter someone on the street, in the cafeteria or at a family gathering who expresses confusion over this “newfangled” thing called social media; hopefully I have been able to provide some pointers on how they can be convinced to give it a try.