The significance of social media in the world of public relations

With the first introduction of social networking around the 1990’s, we saw applications like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the very first time. Who thought these networks would have such a large impact on our lives? Since those times, these platforms have well and truly taken off, with user accounts quadrupling to the billions. In modern day society it is considered abnormal to not have a Facebook account, even among the older generations.

It is important to identify the media psychology and why we feel the need to be in the digital world and why we check it constantly. As time has progressed so have the applications themselves. When Facebook was first launched by Zuckerberg in 2004 whilst at Harvard, it would have looked totally different to how it looks and functions in 2016. This is important to note. Social media is full of feeds and timelines, with content continuously loaded in front of your eyes. Facebook now has an algarythm where content is automatically generated when the user has been on the page for a certain amount of time, therefore you are always seeing something new. This continuous cycle of information means the user stays in the same place for longer and doesn’t need to keep scrolling.

Does this constant process of checking content ever stop? Back in 2013, Kari J Milberg was involved in a tragic car crash, where both her daughter and 2 nieces were killed from the aftermath. The verdict brought about the findings that Kari was checking Facebook when the crash took place. This shows the true reality of mobile phones and social media, that it can totally dominate your life, preventing you from putting safety first for you and others around you.

It is not all happy days for users on Facebook, a report described on ‘Instasad’ discussed that the higher proportion of strangers that a user follows on Facebook the greater chance of developing depression in later life. German pyschologists Meier and Gray also discovered that since Facebook introduced the photo feed, body dissatisfaction increased in teenage girls. Also linking to the idea that 66% of girls using Facebook have claimed to have been bullied! This is large percentage of teenage girls that are registered on Facebook. This just scratches the surface of negativity involving Facebook and other popular social media.

Relating to PR

On the other hand, considering the negative connotations that are linked to social media, many companies still need formats such as Twitter and Facebook. It plays an important role in communicating with the public via press releases and direct contact. Considering the how quick social media has developed over the years, it is vital to adapt and change social media campaigns as the times change. This is why young generations are key to helping companies stay up to date in the digital age.

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