Definition of Social Media
The definition of social media can indeed be complex due to the vast and different arrays of social network platforms out there, both standalone and built-in. And so, social media definition, for the purpose of this guide, will be based on unique features that social network platforms share, as they are online interactive platforms, such as web-based apps on desktops and laptops, or downloadable services, which allow users to communicate with one another, create and share information, for example, ideas, interest, and news to mention these few. Social media also enables users to organize themselves into different online communities based on, for example, common hobbies, and job interests.
Social media, in summary, are easy to use and community-based interactive web 2.0 platforms comprising user-generated content that come in the form of videos, images, or texts. Users, on social media platforms, can also create personal or business profiles and join common-interest forums or groups.
Before the proliferation of social media, the fore-runners/ well known social media outlets were, for example, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Vine, VKontakte (Vk), WeChat, WhatsApp, QQ, and Quora to mention these few.
The platforms provide society with various pleasures such as interacting with family, friends, and potential employers; sharing interesting stories; and providing answers to questions. All of these functions are incentives for people to aggregate in relatively large numbers on these social media networks.
What are the frequently asked questions about social media?
The call to social distance since the pandemic gripped the globe has led all of us to use social media more than ever.
It has had a positive impact on our physical health by allowing many of us to continue work and school without potentially exposing ourselves to the virus. Just look at how Zoom emerged from nowhere to become a household name — to the extent that several Zoom-related terms were added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2020.
It has had a positive impact on our mental health by allowing us to stay connected to family and friends whom we couldn’t see in person. It has also helped us to fight boredom as we’ve created and shared our own content to do everything from raising awareness to providing comic relief in the midst of lockdown.
But how is your social media quality compared to your quantity?
You may be surprised to realize who is looking at your social media, when, and why. And you may also be surprised to see how what you post on social media can impact your financial health.
And by the way, If you’ve never made the connection between home insurance and social media, for example, then keep reading. We not only want to help you curb security threats but also thwart potential problems with your insurance company.
The Rise of Social Media
As we make our way out of the pandemic, will we rely less on social media?
If we do, it won’t be much less. Our relationship with our screens has become symbiotic, and it doesn’t look to be abating anytime soon.
When it comes to social media, we’ve come a very long way in a very short time. When the Pew Research Center started tracking social media trends in 2005, just 5% of American adults used one of the platforms. Only six years later, it had risen to 50%.
How much of the American public uses some type of social media today? Seven in ten people, or 72%. And while, unsurprisingly, young adults (18-29) were the earliest social media adopters, it only took a few years before usage started hitting double digits for those 30-49, 50-64, and even 65-plus.
YouTube, with 81% usage, and Facebook, with 69% usage, continue to dominate the online social media landscape, followed by 40% usage for Instagram; 30% for Pinterest and LinkedIn; 25% for Snapchat, Twitter, and WhatsApp; 21% for TikTok; and 13% for the neighborhood platform Nextdoor.
We’re checking our favorites a lot. Seven in ten Facebook users use the site daily, including 49% who say they use the site several times a day. The percentages are a little lower for Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, but not by much.
And that’s only part of the picture. There are the consumer review networks (like Yelp and Tripadvisor), the shared-economy networks (like Airbnb and Uber), and the shopping networks (like Etsy). In fact, there’s virtually nothing you can’t shop for online these days — even cars and houses. And don’t forget the most popular form of communication among Americans: texting.
No wonder the number of smartphone users in the U.S. has been increasing steadily every year, from 274.10 million in 2018 to 287.76 million in 2019, with an estimated 294.15 million in 2020 and a projected 311.53 million by 2025, according to a Statista report.
And no wonder the amount of time we’re using our smartphones is steadily increasing annually as well, from 2 hours and 25 minutes in 2018 to 2 hours and 43 minutes in 2019, with an estimated 3 hours and 6 minutes in 2021 and a projected 3 hours and 54 minutes in 2022.
1) WhatsApp has 2 billion monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~38 mins
2) Facebook has 2.85 billion monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 34 mins.
3) YouTube has 2 billion monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~42 mins
4) Twitter has 350 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 4 mins
5) Snapchat has 501 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 30 mins
6) LinkedIn has 255 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 7 mins
7) Pinterest has 478 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 14.2 mins
8) Tumblr has 316 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~ 4 mins
9) Instagram has 800 million unique monthly users with a daily user duration of ~53 mins
10) Quora has 300 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~4 mins
11) Reddit has 430 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~10 mins
12) VKontakte (Vk) has 90 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~15 mins
13) Flickr has 600 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~6 mins
14) Vine has 200 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~1 min
15) Meetup has 41 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~4 mins
16) Ask.fm has 105 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~5 mins
17) ClassMates has 45 million monthly unique users with a daily user duration of ~3 mins
More of the social media are listed in the table below.
The plots show social media platforms with equal to or greater than 70 million unique monthly users. The 70 million unique monthly users lower benchmark enabled the inclusion of the social media websites with unusually high daily user duration.
This post includes social network analysis for those interested in business advertisements. The column charts of both the daily user duration and the unique monthly users (Figures 1 and 2) were used to determine the social network platform(s) with the optimum condition for maximizing the exposure of a brand advertisement.
The combined peaks in the variables generally indicate that Facebook, YouTube, WeChat, Instagram, and Tiktok, are the top 5 platforms, of all the social networks analyzed, for advertising a brand. However, we did not factor in the cost of advertising, niche/interest, and geographic locations, as these will also influence the platform(s) that advertisers opt for.
Social Media’s Impact
In addition to the benefits of social media and the number of users noted above, COVID-19 provided more clarity on how social media is revolutionizing our lives.
The Benefits of Social Media
In addition to the ability to work from home and homeschool during the pandemic, social media became a critical communication tool regarding public health, such as surveying public attitudes, detecting or predicting cases, analyzing government responses, and evaluating the quality of health information in prevention education videos.
It also provided a form of telemedicine, allowing healthcare providers to network, collaborate, and share research and resources with each other, as well as share accurate information with patients and consumers.
Social media tools and platforms are great for brand and business advertising, as these social network platforms are forums for large gatherings of folks, just like shoals of fishes in feeding grounds, for brands seeking new clients to take advantage of.
The gathering affords brands inbound traffic, higher conversion rate, reduced cost of advertisement, and many more. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense for brands to establish their presence on all of these social media sites especially if these brands can afford it.
This post adapts the 2 steps below to identify the best social platforms, stated above, for advertising your brand
1) The top 29 social networking websites, based on those with unique monthly users of more than 70 million, were plotted (Figure 1 and Figure 2) with their corresponding number of unique monthly users and the daily user time spent on these websites.
2) The plots were reviewed, using the corresponding number of unique monthly users and the daily user duration, to determine the social platforms that may be best suited for advertising.
Note that the data uses the parameter, “unique” to account for the number of people with multiple registrations.
The Downside of Social Media
You have to take the bad with the good, and in the case of social media during the pandemic, the bad has featured infodemics. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means an excessive amount of information about a problem that is typically unreliable, spreads rapidly and makes a solution more difficult to achieve.
For even casual social media users, we’ve all certainly seen more than our fair share of COVID conspiracies, fake news, and misinformation on our social media feeds.
Coupled with the exposure to all of the above is the more frequent use of social media, during the pandemic, to offset isolation. This social media usage can, unfortunately, result in a negative impact on one’s health. Prolonged and excessive use can lead to social media addiction, deterioration in concentration and other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, decreased self-esteem, and, oddly enough, a feeling of a lack of connection.
Sосіаl nеtwоrkѕ аrе certainly a great сhарtеr in thе bооk оf Intеrnеt. Sосіаl mеdіа facilitates уоur соmmunісаtіоn wіth frіеndѕ, рrоmоtеs nеw acquaintances and businesses. And facilitates the access to іnfоrmаtіоn ѕсаttеrеd оn thе Intеrnеt bу collecting іt all іn one place.
Social media platforms are undeniably convenient аnd рrасtісаl. However, thеrе’ѕ a darker ѕіdе tо hоw ѕосіаl mеdіа саn аﬀесt us. Aссоrdіng tо rеѕеаrсhеrѕ, thе mоrе tіmе уоu ѕреnd оn ѕосіаl mеdіа, the mоrе lіkеlу уоu аrе tо suﬀer from mеntаl hеаlth іѕѕuеѕ.
Thіѕ іѕ еѕресіаllу true in children аnd tееnѕ; hоwеvеr, рrоlоngеd аnd excessive uѕе рrеѕеntѕ dаngеrѕ that hаvе bесоmе mоrе evident in аdultѕ аѕ wеll. Multiple ѕtudіеѕ have begun to focus on the disturbing аѕѕосіаtіоn bеtwееn оnlіnе ѕосіаl networking and a vаrіеtу оf negative fееlіngѕ аnd psychiatric dіѕоrdеrѕ.
Thе mоѕt рrоnоunсеd concerns lіе іn:
a) Decreased ѕеlf-еѕtееm (which оftеn works hаnd іn hаnd with еаtіng dіѕоrdеrѕ аnd bоdу dуѕmоrрhіа)
c) Dерrеѕѕіоn/dерrеѕѕіvе ѕуmрtоmѕ
d) A feeling оf a lack оf connection
e) Fееlіngѕ оf іnfеrіоrіtу
f) Deterioration in concentration and оthеr ѕуmрtоmѕ оf Attеntіоn Dеfiсіt Hуреrасtіvіtу Disorder (ADHD)
g) Addiction to ѕосіаl mеdіа
Of соurѕе, аll оf the аbоvе аrе соmрlеx аnd аrе оftеn exacerbated or intertwined with thе оthеr indicators. Social mеdіа’ѕ negative іmрасt occurs mоѕtlу as the rеѕult оf thе upward social comparisons we engage in whіlе using іt. We tend to mаkе note оf the соntrаѕtѕ bеtwееn a реrfесt presented lіfе and our own. Cоmраrіѕоnѕ tends to lоwеr self-esteem, which in turn іnсrеаѕеѕ the risk and ѕеvеrіtу of dерrеѕѕіvе symptoms, аnxіеtу аnd a hоѕt оf оthеr unhеаlthу feelings аnd bеhаvіоurѕ.
Though соmmоn ѕеnѕе tеllѕ us what we’re ѕееіng іѕ оftеn “glоѕѕеd оvеr”, unrealistic or exaggerated vеrѕіоnѕ of rеаlіtу when scrolling thrоugh social feeds. Pеrсеіvеd perfection in body tуре, fаmіlу соmроѕіtіоn, idealistic lіfеѕtуlеѕ and social рrеfеrеnсе, іt’ѕ аll tоо easy to feel inadequate аbоut уоur own рhуѕісаl appearance, іntеllіgеnсе, success, lifestyle, and еvеn mоrаl integrity.
Thе true relationship between the uѕе of ѕосіаl media and mental health is a rеlаtіvеlу new аnd соmрlеx аrеа of ѕtudу given thе соnѕtаntlу сhаngіng tесhnоlоgісаl lаndѕсаре. Whіlе some ѕtudіеѕ роіnt tо thе positive аѕресtѕ and outcomes of our іntеrасtіоnѕ оnlіnе, a growing base of research ѕееmѕ to reinforce the орроѕіtе view. Rеgаrdlеѕѕ, thе іmрасt social media hаѕ on us аѕ individuals, organizations and соmmunіtіеѕ іѕ ѕоmеthіng that can’t – and shouldn’t bе – ignored.
Here are ѕоmе key іndісаtоrѕ to be aware of:
a) Low or decreased ѕеlf-еѕtееm during or after using ѕосіаl mеdіа.
b) Negatively comparing уоurѕеlf to оthеrѕ via their ѕосіаl media content.
c) Repetitively fосuѕіng оn your own shortcomings оr distress while viewing оthеrѕ’ social mеdіа fееdѕ.
d) Frеԛuеntlу fееlіng еnvіоuѕ оf оthеrѕ whіlе engaged with social mеdіа.
e) Using social media as уоur prime lеіѕurе асtіvіtу.
f) Feeling dіѕсоnnесtеd from friends and fаmіlу оr nоt interacting wіth thеm іn person аѕ often as you nоrmаllу would.
g) Dесrеаѕе in аbіlіtу tо соnсеntrаtе.
h) Inсrеаѕеd or unuѕuаl ѕосіаl anxiety when іntеrасtіng with people оff lіnе.
i) Feeling a nееd tо ѕhаrе everything you’re doing offline on ѕосіаl mеdіа.
j) Experiencing the negative emotional еxреrіеnсе, “FOMO” (Fеаr of Mіѕѕіng Out) during or after viewing оthеrѕ’ оnlіnе асtіvіtу.
k) Cоnѕсіоuѕlу, соnѕіѕtеntlу uѕіng ѕосіаl mеdіа as a distraction to avoid or ѕuррrеѕѕ unpleasant emotions.
l) Irregular or dіѕоrdеrеd ѕlееріng раttеrnѕ.
How to mitigate the health impact of Social media
1) Rеасh out, offline: Substitute уоur ѕосіаl mеdіа tіmе with face-to-face activities with fаmіlу аnd frіеndѕ who ѕuрроrt and саrе аbоut уоu. Put dоwn уоur рhоnе аnd othеr dеvісеѕ when you are wіth оthеrѕ. Cоnѕіdеr еxраndіng уоur іn-реrѕоn ѕосіаl сіrсlеѕ to include реорlе wіth ѕіmіlаr іntеrеѕtѕ.
2) Tunе uр your mind and bоdу: Get moving toward ѕоmеthіng better when you feel a need to get on ѕосіаl mеdіа. Exеrсіѕе. Mеdіtаtе. Gоіng outside for some frеѕh air аnd асtіvіtу саn frеe uр уоur muѕсlеѕ and give your mood a роѕіtіvе boost. Fіnd a new hеаlthу hоbbу; lеаrn a new ѕkіll оr lаnguаgе. Of great іmроrtаnt, get ѕоmе sleep. Chronic ѕосіаl mеdіа uѕе can wreak hаvос on the nоrmаl ѕlееріng patterns, whісh іѕ сruсіаl for good mеntаl health–one of the major facts about sleep that most people don’t know.
3) Unрlug аnd еrаѕе: Take ѕоmе time away frоm the Internet as a whole to remove the tеmрtаtіоn оf lоggіng іn tо уоur favorite ѕосіаl media рlаtfоrmѕ. Tаkе ѕосіаl mеdіа оﬀ your rаdаr bу unіnѕtаllіng аррѕ, rеmоvіng shortcuts frоm yоur home ѕсrееnѕ and bookmarks from your browsers. Thіѕ makes getting to social mеdіа рlаtfоrmѕ longer and rеԛuіrеѕ more еﬀоrt. Sometimes, оut of ѕіght, out of mind rеаllу dоеѕ ring truе.
4) Sеt boundaries: If уоu muѕt engage оn ѕосіаl mеdіа, lау down clear limits іn advance fоr how many times a dау, аnd for hоw lоng, уоu wіll ѕреnd оnlіnе. Stееr сlеаr of соntеnt and platforms that bring уоu dоwn, оr evoke negative responses. Set a timer to help ѕtау in track аnd bе accountable. You mау аlѕо want to lіmіt уоur оnlіnе ѕосіаl interactions tо one device.
Who’s Checking Your Social Media?
Outside of the pandemic, social media is having an impact that you may not have realized: With more people having more access, it’s not just your friends, the audience you want on your public feeds, or scammers and hackers you don’t want on any of your feeds.
Here are some of the reviewers who are using social media to make important decisions about your future.
1) College admissions officers: According to a Kaplan Test Prep survey of 364 colleges across the United States, 25% of admissions officers browse social media profiles to learn more about admissions candidates. And that was in 2018.
Fortunately, nearly half of the respondents said what they found had a positive impact on prospective students. But that means nearly half also found negatives. Examples? Everything from questionable language bordering on racism, to pictures of a student brandishing weapons, to posting details of a crime that the student did not disclose in his application.
And the social media reviewing doesn’t end once you’re accepted. Your posts could result in having your admission revoked or having a letter of recommendation rescinded.
For example, during my straitlaced niece’s freshman year on scholarship at a Christian college, she was in danger of losing her scholarship when the college saw photos her friend posted online of a get-together in which she was among a group holding red Solo cups.
The college assumed the teens were drinking alcohol — thanks, in part, to the popularity of the Toby Keith tune. My niece’s parents, her friends’ parents, and others at the get-together had to get involved in meetings with school administrators to prove there was no alcohol consumed. My niece learned to be much more discerning about who was taking photos of her as well as of being tagged.
2) Hiring managers: Recruiters and human resources professionals aren’t only looking at your LinkedIn profile — which, by the way, is easy enough to know, as LinkedIn sends weekly emails on your number of profile views as well as whose looking (although you have to have LinkedIn Premium to unlock the complete list of viewers).
They’re checking your social media presence to go beyond the resume and get a more complete picture of you. They use your accounts to help them determine your personality type and if you would be a good fit for the company’s culture.
They’re also on the alert for red flags, especially lying about qualifications, bad-mouthing an employer or fellow employee, or sharing confidential information from a previous employer. This would automatically signal to them that you wouldn’t be the right person to join their team.
Getting a job offer, let alone a job interview is arduous enough without sabotaging yourself through inappropriate photos and videos, discriminatory comments, and signs of drug use, which could immediately turn them off from considering you even with a perfect resume and glowing recommendations.
3) Landlords: Some landlords are turning to social media to learn more about applicants. They’re mainly looking to see if everything that’s on a lease application is truthful, such as not owning pets or an applicant’s place of employment.
Social media vetting isn’t as pervasive in leasing as it is for college admission or employment because landlords have to be very careful about not breaching federal, state, and local fair housing laws. They can’t discriminate based on race, gender, religion, familial status, ethnicity, or disability, and straying from concrete data such as credit reports, income, and housing history can open them up to claims of discrimination.
4) Insurance underwriters: The insurance industry’s social media use has focused largely on marketing. Insurers have been focused on improving their business and connecting with their customers, including providing personalized advice.
So while reviewing social media is not yet a standard part of underwriting or the claims process, it’s expected to gain traction. Some companies do review social media to verify customer information.
The following are ways social media could hurt your car insurance.
a) If you upload a selfie taken while driving, your car insurer could refuse to renew your policy because your distracted driving presents too much of a risk to them.
b) If you’re involved in an accident around the timestamp of your screenshot of a text, your car insurance company could deny your claim or list you as the at-fault party.
c) If your relationship status shows you have a spouse and you didn’t disclose that to an insurer in a state that requires both spouses to be named on an auto policy, the insurer can demand that you add the significant other listed. They could also refuse to cover a claim if your spouse is involved in an accident.
Your home insurance could be affected by social media through the following scenarios:
a) If you upload geotagged photos while you’re on vacation and you have a home invasion, your home insurance company could claim negligence on your part and deny your claim. The insurer could do the same thing if you upload a geotagged photo of an expensive gift you received and you’re subsequently burglarized.
b) If your social posts show that you have a dog and you didn’t notify your insurance company, it could result in the cancellation of your policy — especially certain breeds.
And your social media could even impact your life or health insurance:
If your social media shows you smoking and your life insurance policy was written for a non-smoker, you may be in for a rate increase. You could also be denied benefits completely, denied claims, and even have your coverage canceled for lying about your medical history.
The same goes for any other habits or hobbies considered risky that you failed to disclose, such as skydiving or bungee jumping.
Protect Yourself on Social Media
You’ve most likely read about how to post safely and responsibly on social media. Hopefully, you’ve taken measures to do so. If not or if you haven’t in a while, we’ve hopefully given you a better understanding of why you should be motivated to do so.
The preponderance of social media’s negative impact has motivated social media platforms to take their own measures to help their users think twice. Twitter just announced a new feature that detects “mean” replies on its service before you press send.
The prompt reads, “Want to review this before Tweeting?” You can select three choices: tweet, edit, or delete. Twitter says year-long testing of the add-on resulted in users sending fewer offensive replies across their service.
Instagram plans to follow suit. They’re testing ways to hide “like” counts on posts to help reduce social media addiction, jealousy, anger, and depression.
Here are ways you can be more mindful:
a) Geotagging: Open your camera settings and see if geotagging is switched on; if so, turn it off so your coordinates aren’t attached to photos you share.
b) Security Settings: Keep your security software current by having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system. This will help you defend against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
c) Privacy Settings: Aim to make the majority of what you post only viewable by friends. This will greatly reduce your chances of anything you post being misinterpreted since it will be seen by fewer people.
But what if you have a public persona, such as a blogger or an expert? Then create multiple channels. Have an open profile, or “fan” page, in which you limit personal information. That way you can keep your personal profile for your most trusted friends.
d) Passwords and Passphrases: Have a separate one for each account. This will help thwart cybercriminals.
Make your passwords and passphrases strong by not including any personal information and by making them long and containing uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
A tip to make a passphrase unique is to create a sentence that’s easy for you to remember, and to include spaces when the site allows.
e) Contacts: Make a note to regularly review who’s connected with you on social media. Relationships ebb and flow, and while there’s an initial thrill in reconnecting with friends you lost touch with long ago, their posts might remind you why you lost touch in the first place. You don’t really know these people anymore, and you don’t know who they know. So be judicious about who you stay connected with.
f) Content Caution: Even if you carefully curate your channels, still think twice about everything you post. The more personal information you provide, the easier a hacker or someone else can steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes, such as stalking.
This includes participating in social media quizzes. Even though these are fun, especially if a lot of friends are joining in, and they seem innocuous, taking them can put you at risk for identity theft.
You could be unwittingly providing hackers with answers to your online security questions — such as your most memorable concert, your first car, the destination of your first flight, your first pet, your childhood best friend, or your first-grade teacher.
g) Action Steps: If you feel you’re being harassed or threatened, remove the contact that is making you uneasy from your friend’s list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
h) Protecting Your Circle: Talk to your family, friends, and others in your online communities about tips to safely enjoy social media, which will be advantageous to you as well.
i) Apply the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” In social media parlance, which translates to post only about others as you would have them post about you. In other words, take the high road to keep your reputation positive.
j) Time Management: To help keep yourself from falling prey to social media’s negative mental health effects, take stock of not only what you’re posting but how often you’re posting. Don’t use social media as your prime leisure activity.
Set boundaries for how many times a day, and for how long, you will spend time online. Use that extra time to reach out to others person to person, get more sleep, go outside, engage in physical activity — or all of the above.
k) Honesty: Yes, there are actually “honest” apps, but we’re talking old-school policy. Your best bet is to be upfront and honest when applying for everything from a job or an apartment to car, homeowners, renters, life, or health insurance.
You don’t want to be denied for having lied. And in the case of insurance, you don’t want to have paid your premium but be denied a claim because of a social media post not lining up with what you’ve told your agent.
Now that you’ve learned some social media smarts, have more fun and less worry about getting back out on the road to cure that cabin fever, whether you’re vacationing to America’s best tourist attractions or just hanging out with your friends.
Frequently Asked Questions About Social Media
1) What is social media?
2) Which are the most popular social media platforms?
3) Why is social media bad?
4) How many people use social media?
5) What Are The Benefits of Social media?
6) Who is looking at your social media feed?
7) Does social media have health impacts?
8) How do I avoid the health impact of social media?
9) How do I use social media for businesses?