Social media is defined by its interactivity, connectivity and user-generated content. In today’s society, the use of social media has become an essential daily activity. Social media are often used for social interaction and access to news and information, as well as decision-making. It is an invaluable tool for communicating with others locally and globally, and for sharing, creating and disseminating information. Social media can influence consumer purchasing decisions through reviews, marketing strategies, and promotions. Social media greatly affects our ability to communicate, build relationships, acquire and disseminate information, and make the best decisions. Perhaps the most powerful social media tool is a social networking site.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, LinkedIn and Google+ are names familiar to most of the public, whether they are active social media users or not. Almost everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 has a Facebook account. These social networking sites can be used to connect people all over the world. This means business meetings can be held internationally using Google Hangouts, or reconnecting with old friends. For businesses, schools, and various other groups, the communication options are endless. These social networking sites have increasingly expanded beyond personal use.

Recently, employers have started using social networking sites to check the background of potential candidates and conduct interviews using Facebook or other social media technology tools. Groups can schedule virtual meetings or brainstorm together, even if they can’t meet in person. It takes the stress out of planning school projects and board meetings. We as a society have come to rely more and more on social networking sites. In general, in today’s world, we depend on social networks for connection and primary communication.

One of the industries most affected by social media is journalism and journalism. With the internet now the fastest and easiest way to get news, print media is shrinking and publications are being forced to publish their articles online. Another effect of this advanced technology is that almost anyone can now call themselves a “journalist” and produce news that is believed to be accurate and credible. We can create, share and spread news or gossip stories around the world almost instantly.

Social media only makes it easier. Breaking news is posted on Twitter and other social networking sites, and people around the world learn about it almost instantly. The power of social media has made our society more aware of global current affairs and news.

Active social media users are more likely to be influenced offline, according to Nielsen’s Social Media Report. Social media is now beginning to influence the decision-making process of its users. Reviews and blogs are constantly being published describing universities, restaurants, products, companies and more. Some people have learned to rely on these reviews to make decisions.

For example, Johns Hopkins University created Hopkins Interactive, a social media site designed by current students for prospective students. On this site, prospective students can view an unedited account of the Hopkins student experience. Prospective students visit this site to get a behind-the-scenes look at the school and determine if the school is right for them.

Additionally, social media tools have become the new must-haves in the marketing world. Digital marketing and internet marketing are on the rise and those who do not exist on social media will slowly disappear. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have come to rely on social media to promote their businesses. Internet marketing is now almost synonymous with social media because it almost guarantees reaching the largest audience and the greatest results.

Social media promises to shape the future of the marketing world. The possibilities of social media seem endless. It’s not uncommon for people to go a day without using or referring to social media. Whether used to communicate, learn, or make decisions, social media exists and will continue to influence our society.

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