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Social Media Links

In today’s constantly-connected world, there’s no escaping social media. Companies are using social media to reach a new audience of consumers, schools are creating Twitter and Facebook accounts to connect with students and their families, and entertainment companies use social media to reward regular views of TV shows and movie fans. Social media is also being used by traditional media to enhance print publications and television shows.

But does all of this connectivity add up to any real benefit for the user? Does social media integration make a person more inclined to use online services—shopping, education and customer service— in place of more conventional options?  While people make decisions based on a whole host of factors, studies show that social media can influence more than just the way people communicate; social media can have a tangible impact on what people choose to buy, as well as levels of political and social engagement. Social media is affecting the way people communicate, but it’s also affecting the way people live their lives.

Education

Colleges and universities were among the first institutions to introduce online elements like e-mail and websites to their students, faculty and staff. But as social media becomes an important tool for students and teachers alike, Facebook and Twitter are enhancing or even replacing some of the messaging and online collaborative programs from just a few years ago. The rise of online education has been both encouraged and supported by social media: most major colleges and universities now offer courses online, and others offer entire programs online for returning adults or students who want to finish a degree without traveling to a campus.

And online education is also becoming a useful tool for K-12 teachers and students— programs like Skype that connect students from different areas of the country or the world, online apps like Google Earth that gives students tours of far-flung locations, and programs like Grockit that help kids study for tests are all changing the educational landscape.

Social awareness and consumers

You might not think that shopping is an important part of life, but social media is helping consumers make informed decisions about what they buy and why. Whether it’s learning about the latest smartphone or how buying local can affect your town’s economy, social media sites are encouraging people to learn more about what and how they consume products.

Of course, marketing firms and companies have recognized that social media can influence buying decisions, but activists and non-profit organizations have also realized that providing consumers with information can affect how people view their regular purchases. And sites like Facebook have made it possible for people to learn more about various causes, and how they can contribute to improving society. Organizations like Feeding America and the Red Cross are using social media to make it easy for people to donate and offer other types of support. By making it easy for regular people to contribute to charities and other causes, people are becoming more politically and socially active—and small actions by millions of people can combine to create a larger impact.

The links that social media have helped create go far beyond messages to friends, family and classmates. The benefits to users can range from the minor to the miraculous—and as social media becomes a part of everyday life, it will change the way we interact with the world.

The Gift of Gab: Women’s Advantage in Social Media

Lauren MacEwen being social at a partyWomen have the business advantage in social media. We continue to be the majority of social media users. As a driving force behind a lot of the overall internet usage, women are commanding a powerful influence in shopping, B2B, social media, blogging and content driven sites.   But women are not just the consumers of retail, information and social activity, we are also the drivers.

Socially women are taught to communicate. We are taught to express our feelings and thoughts and spread information along to other interested parties. Community interactions teach us the art of gossip and gab. We are known as the purveyors of information, and we are often a vast and varied  storehouse of information.

Another school of thought argues that women are neurologically better communicators. According to The Female Brain women can process 13,000 more communication events than men and have 11% more brain cells in the planum temporale, which has to do with processing language.

“[F]rom a young age, women are conditioned to nurture, communicate, and express their feelings through words; all necessary qualities of a social medialite. Our male counterparts, no matter how accomplished or web savvy, have to work infinitely harder to master the art of casually dishing information and “gossiping” about industry hot topics.”

According to PsychTests, women are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and more willing to discuss issues and take others opinions into consideration. Also, women are better listeners and empathizers and are more skilled at handling “touchy-feely” conversations.  But does this mean that women are better at social media?

Whether or not you believe that women have a neurological or social advantage, many schools of thought support the idea that women are better communicators than men.  Communication is a skill, and like any skill it can be honed and developed.  This skill is culturally, and possibly neurologically, supported for women. For men, however, the cultural idea of masculinity as the “strong and silent” type is working in direct opposition to developing this ability.

The nature of social media is social. It is about community, communication, conversation and sharing information. The way in which women use the internet supports a social media advantage.  Though men and women both use the internet for research, the way women conduct their research is  is different. “Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.”

The business of being social is in interaction and the dissemination of information.

Through our skills in communication and our own user trends, women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in social media. “Women are enthusiastic online communicators.” Social media provides a platform where our natural or socially developed communication skills give us a business edge.

The joke in my house is that if you want to know what is going on ask me, not my husband. In fact, my husband often says how much he dislikes gossip and would rather abstain from a conversation than participate in what he feels is gossipy. Me, on the other hand, I am a collector of information. I collect gossip, news, sociological theory, tech developments, and maintain a repository of generally random information.

I often use this information in my business communication to deepen relationships.  Just like friendships, business relationships are not limited to the topic at hand. The gift of gab can be more than a friendly conversation starter, it can now be an entire business model

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Reposted from a guest post written by Lauren MacEwen for Dr. Shannon Reese