Social Media’s Worldwide Impact on Consumers


Ethan Lacouty, Editor

Many people know that social media shapes how they live but do not understand the depth of how these multimedia sites affect their daily actions, decisions, and lifestyle.

Social media originated as a way to interact with friends and family but was later used by businesses which wanted to take advantage of a popular new communication method to reach out to customers. The power of social media is the ability to connect and share information with anyone on Earth, or with many people simultaneously. The newest wave of spreading businesses on social media has been through advertisement targeting on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Social media and social networking have changed the business landscape, both for companies that have adopted them and for those who have not.  By definition, social media is where members share content with a wide audience, with the focus on the content, while social networking is more centered on conversations and groups with shared interests.  Facebook, which straddles the line dividing the two types of interactions, has 600,000 regular users worldwide and welcomes companies, organizations, and brands to utilize its platform to connect with their audience.

Almost all social networks have incorporated a measure of social media, allowing users to become curators of the interesting content they find, sharing links, images, and short personal stories. Businesses who have learned to create content and engage in conversations are already ‘in the stream’ – and more and more, internet users have the expectation they will be able to interact with their favorite brands. Companies that have embraced this have an ever-growing advantage over those who have not.

The term “social-media influencers” has been coined to represent individuals who have a significant following on social media. With a large audience seeing these influencers’ posts each day, they’re often targeted by businesses to promote products. But regardless of whether the influencers’ posts are sponsored or not, their content has a large effect on purchasing decisions. Essentially, they contribute to the “bandwagon” effect.

Placing ads on social media has become simple to set up and yet targeting has become much more detailed. Advertisers can place ads that align with their business, such as establishing brand awareness or driving sales. When an individual click on through a social media ad and lands on the advertiser’s website, can also be placed to move people through the sales funnel. South Broward High School Freshman Alexander Joseph has downloaded social media and is aware of the danger it may cause.

“I understand that the things I follow may trigger companies to send me different advertisements because some social media sites sell my information, different pages I’ve visited, and internet habits that then helps these companies sell me advertisements for something I was just looking up,” said Joseph.

Social Media companies are becoming more and more aggressive in targeting teenage user because they are easy to influence and have a personal relationship with the real buyers, the parents. For Joseph, it seems that these ads are popping up on his social media feed every day and usually the ad is promoting something he recently searched up, ordered on an online website, or emailed a friend or family member.

“Its creepy man, these ads know what your interests and what you do in your free time…” said Joseph “…I just need my privacy sometimes, I don’t want these big shot companies stalking my browser history,”

Recently, Facebook was caught selling users data to a data firm, Cambridge Analytica, which greatly impacted the 2016 American Election. Even though Facebook has promised the American social media users that they would be more careful with users’ personal data, Joseph has noticed that more people have gotten on edge because of the recent slipup in trust the general American public has had with Facebook.

Joseph said,”I have seen the spread of misinformation that was backed by the Russians to influence American voters to vote for Trump instead of his counterpart, Democrat Hillary Clinton and I just feel that Americans have never gotten over the betrayal of a big company like Facebook not doing more to protect their personal information.”

Many students feel that social media is a new wave and feel obligated to download it on their phones without noting how other big name companies use social media sites as a platform to influence the general public into buying their products without taking into account the impact they cause on consumers when they exploit their personal information.

“Social Media websites and apps should take into account that these are real peoples information that they are harvesting not just stats on a sheet. People should have the right to keep their personal information private,” said Joseph.