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Social Media = Social Change

|Jul 25|magazine10 min read

Written by Jason Ross

Jason Ross is General Manager of Reactive Sydney – a global digital agency with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Auckland and New York. Before working in Australia, Jason lived in the UK where he worked with many top FTSE 100 companies, helping them harness and evolve their digital communications for their internal and external audiences. Reactive provide digital services to clients across all industries.

Social media, and how we use it, is evolving faster than anybody could have predicted. There are many whitepapers and blogs detailing ‘best practices’ (like our own whitepaper), but fewer that discuss the profound impact it has on society and how it is changing and shaping the way we live.

Socialising

Perhaps the biggest area to have been impacted by social media, is the way we socialise, share and communicate, enabling us to engage with others in a way that has never before been possible. From the listing of Facebook to emerging platforms like Pinterest there is no doubt that the world is becoming a smaller and easier place to communicate in. Sites like No Where Island are blurring the lines between the physical and digital world, inviting users to become virtual citizens.

Corporate Knowledge Sharing

Yammer ‘The Enterprise Social Network’ has long been advocating (and enabling) ‘social exchanges’ within the corporate environment. Their recent acquisition by Microsoft demonstrates how seriously this is being taken. Many in management fear a loss in productivity from social media in the workplace, but Microsoft has made it clear that the business benefits of creating a more ‘social’ intranet far outweigh those concerns. With social exchanges comes increased knowledge sharing and corporate social media is rapidly being embraced.

Education

If you consider the one-to-many class-room / teacher model, it is easy to see how this will soon become an out-dated way of educating. Tools like Lore are leading the way for social learning which sees the one-to-many approach becoming a facilitated many-to-many style which can greatly increase the speed in which knowledge is transferred. Educators have long been using the internet, but true social teaching is only just beginning.

Purchasing and consuming

Purchasing has seen a number of great shifts in recent years – from the power of social buying (seeing what others ‘Like’ and ‘Pin’) to the way payments are being made. Media consumption is another area which has been drastically changed by social media. Social platforms like Spotify and Zeebox are literally changing the way we consume content; the days of listening and viewing as a private activity will soon be behind us.

Investing

Whilst at the core, the world of investments and stock exchanges might still be functioning as they were decades ago, social media has opened up a world of social platforms to enable seekers of investment to publicise their ideas and source investment. Kickstarter is one such platform. Whilst touted by some as ‘just a new way of selling’ there is no doubt that the way we invest our money today is being shaped by new tools like these and others like them.

In summary

We’re busier than ever – both here at Reactive and the digital industry as a whole. When you take a step back, it’s clear that we’re busy because we’re building the very things that reflect and enable the broader social changes that are occurring around us.

It’s easy to concentrate on the latest and greatest successes / failures of social media, but look beyond these to the social impact and you’ll feel as inspired as I do that we’re in the midst of some pretty exciting changes.