What is social media? – Introduction and explanation

How social media changes our lives and what it is

Social media intervenes deeply in the processes of our modern life. It offers many benefits and some dangers. It makes sense to know which influences social media has on us.

My grown-up children go their own ways, yet we are closely connected as a family and know what is going on with the others. From time to time we exchange pictures on the smartphone, then I can see who my son is with and how he is doing – that’s part of social media.

Through my work I am often on the go in Facebook groups. There I read from others what they are doing or what question they have. This is often illustrated by pictures or a video, taken with a smartphone.

I learn from the comments of others. If I can give useful hints, I do so. Helpful hints get a lot of encouragement. That’s how I become aware of them or get feedback.

This is all social media. It fulfills a basic need of us humans – to network and communicate.

In the ranking of the largest social networks and messengers according to the number of monthly active users (in January 2019), Facebook is in first place, followed by YouTube. This is followed by other networks, most of which belong to Facebook (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram). Only WeChat, a Chinese text and voice mail service is still keeping up. All the others have fallen behind.

The world of social media apps is highly dynamic and constantly changing. Users have become accustomed to the fact that the display and operation are constantly changing. Rules should keep the behavior of the users in an orderly fashion. This is often difficult to achieve and is probably due to the large number of users.

What about data protection?

Social networks sometimes have a problematic relationship with data protection. They want to collect data about their users. This is how they finance their service. In this respect, the free networks are not free of charge. Every user pays with his data. That would be fine, if the danger of data misuse was not constantly present. The complexity and the large amount of data leads to data leaks and thus to headlines from time to time.

It is difficult to protect yourself against this. A friend of mine isn’t logged on to Facebook and Co. because she doesn’t want to reveal her customer data on her smartphone. I find this praiseworthy and consistent. However, it does exclude her from many online discussions and messages.

Facebook reacts from time to time with new security features and settings. Interestingly, only a few users notice this. The negative headlines seem to bother only a few users and do not stop the growth.

Who finances social media?

The networks store exactly what the users do. They want to know what the users are interested in in order to show them precisely tailored advertising. This works so well that many advertisers can direct users to buy directly from the network. Depending on the level of interest and the price, this happens very quickly or requires several intermediate steps.

Since the networks record everything, advertisers receive immediate feedback on all possible key figures. This allows them to quickly identify ineffective ads and easily turn them off. Successful ads, on the other hand, will give them a bigger budget and thus scale up the advertising success.

Facebook, for example, shows the advertiser whether a video has been viewed more than 95% of the time. Facebook also provides the viewers as a target group. Of course, only starting at 1,000 people, to ensure anonymity. This target group probably has a high interest in the topic of the video due to their behavior. The advertiser now has 2 possibilities to continue working with this target group.

With retargeting, he can address this target group again and thus motivate the future customer to take the next step on his journey to buy. Retargeting is very powerful and one of the most powerful tools in the online marketing industry. It can be used to sell with little advertising money. Of course, the advertiser gets all the key figures for his campaign delivered.

The second possibility is that of similar target groups. Since Facebook knows its users exactly, it is able to find users who are similar to those in the given target group (here all those who watched the video more than 95%). These so-called “lookalike audiences” are huge. In Germany they consist of 300,000 people. This is only the smallest similarity group. The size can be adjusted by the advertiser himself. They often work extremely well.

If an ad works really well, the advertiser can increase the daily budget almost at will, depending on the size of the target group. Individual advertisers spend enormous amounts of money on their ads every day. They can constantly monitor their success and reduce the budget or even turn off the ad. In this way they minimize their risk. Successful advertisements earn a lot of money for their owners. The platforms earn with it, especially Facebook.

Facebook as the market leader has managed to build an Internet on the Internet. Like all social media platforms, Facebook, which wants its users to stay on its platform as long as possible, wants them to stay on it. Facebook promotes videos because they lead to a longer stay. When Facebook notices that a video is getting approval (it is viewed for a long time, gets likes and comments and is shared), it will display the video more often. It then goes “viral”. For advertisers, this is a dream come true, because then you don’t have to pay for most of the views. It is then organic traffic.

Avoid the danger of addiction through happiness hormones

Social media influences our hormone balance. Our body releases happiness hormones when we use them. They create a good feeling. That’s why we like to use social media. This can build up and even become an addiction.

If we are not on the go on social media, the fear of missing something increases. It drives us back to the platforms. These mechanisms work subconsciously. We do not realize that we are controlled by our hormones.

That’s why so many people are on the go on social media. The cell phone is always at hand. During breaks, the system checks if there is anything new. Sometimes we are online although we are doing something else, for example watching TV. Sometimes we are having a conversation and in the meantime we are watching the mobile.

But our mind cannot multitask. It can only focus its attention on one thing. If we do things in parallel, we do nothing right. Then we become dissatisfied and we miss essential experiences. Therefore it is important that we consciously use our time on social media and inform our children accordingly.

How you deal with haters

Hater are people who make negative comments. They are a phenomenon that can be observed again and again on the platforms. Mostly it indicates an internal problem of the Hater. But it can hurt an author quite a bit, especially if he is new on the road.

But in the end it only indicates that the post has hit a pain point. This can even be a good thing, because it gives the mail more range.

For example, one of the best ways to reply could be: “Thank you for your feedback”. If you have done something wrong, always apologize. But always stay friendly and never use negative comments.

Peter ist Experte für Online-Marketing und für die Erstellung und Vermarktung von digitalen Produkten. Als selbstständiger Dipl.-Ing. (Univ.) Elektrotechnik hat Peter mehr als 30 Jahre Hardware- und Software für Medizinprodukte entwickelt. Er leitete Entwicklungs-Teams und hat mit Vertrieb und Schlüsselkunden zusammengearbeitet. Seit 2014 beschäftigt er sich Vollzeit mit Online-Marketing.

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