“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” –David Alston
As social media use continues to consume every aspects of our lives, it should come as no surprise that people are starting to question as to whether or not there are any benefits that come from spending so much time glued to our devices, scrolling through news feeds. While many people argue that they spend so much time navigating through social media as a means to keep in touch with and connected to friends and family that do not live close by. Others use the far-reaching capabilities of social media to grow their business and reach a broader audience. Yet still, others spend copious amounts of time perusing through various profiles and accounts as a means to kill time, stay up to date with the latest gossip, or even to keep others updated on what is happening in their own lives. Regardless of the reason for why you choose to use the various social media platforms available, there are many who want to know if all this time spent online has any benefits? The simple answer is yes, there are many different benefits associated with social media use.
Because so many people spend extensive amounts of time on social media platforms, whether that time is spent exploring personal pages and profiles, or used to grow a business online; extensive research has been done to see how beneficial or detrimental copious amounts of time spent on social media can have on a person. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons associated with continual social media exposure. For a new, small business owner, social media is an affordable, easy and great way to achieve extensive reach to get their name and brand out there for consumers. On the other hand, social media can also be a platform of constant negative peer pressure and influence for teens and others who connect and interact with others who expose them to people and things that go against their core values and beliefs.
Regardless if social media sites are used for personal use or to promote a business, there are many benefits associated with regular usage. Aside from the obvious of constantly being up to date on the latest news and life events of your friends, followers and connections, the benefits of regular social media use range from health and physical benefits, to achieving goals and being successful. Even though these benefits originate from spending time utilizing social media, the effects are far reaching, beyond the realms of a screen.
After taking a closer look at the different benefits associated with social media use, it is no wonder why so many people spend copious amounts of time scrolling through various different social media platforms day after day. Take a look and see for yourself, see how your life can benefit from regular social media use.
One of the main reasons science has found that social media has health benefits is that the body goes through positive changes as a result of regular social media use. These changes include the release of the hormone oxytocin, feelings of happiness and connectivity and fulfilling the inherent desire to help others.
Oxytocin is a hormone found inside the human body, typically associated with pregnant women. This hormone is responsible for sending women into labor, ultimately delivering the baby. Oxytocin is also responsible for fostering the unbreakable bond between the mother and her newborn child. Therefore, it is understandable that when oxytocin is present, the behavior that is exhibited is positive and bonding between individuals. Not only does oxytocin create a sense of bonding and positive emotions, it produces a sense of feeling affectionate and content within one’s own life. When this happens, an individual is known to become calm and loving.
Because oxytocin has such positive effects on emotions and feelings, how does it benefit us when we use social media regularly? It is no secret that social media has replaced face-to-face interactions and relations among a vast majority of people. It is not uncommon to find people communicating and building relationships via various different social media platforms instead of in person. As a result of relationships moving online, research has been done that has found oxytocin is released when people engage and build positive relationships online. This creates a foundation where solid, healthy relationships can be cultivated, with both parties expressing happiness, and in some cases good health (both physical and mental). The long-term results of having healthy online relationships results is people living longer with a better quality of life.
In addition to the human body spontaneously releasing oxytocin, there are a few other specific health benefits that are associated with constant, and regular social media usage.
● Connections: It should come as no surprise, that as individuals we enjoy being connected to other individuals. Science has found that when we are connected to other people, we live longer and happier lives. Thanks to social media, we are able to make, build, foster, and cultivate many connections that otherwise would be impossible due to geographical locations and other factors. When we are able to connect and feel as though we are a part of someone else’s life, even just a small part, there are reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness.
● Networking: Many businesses also utilize the ability to connect and reach an enormous number of people quickly. As a result, people are able to connect with other professionals in their industry, share industry news, and grow their professional network. Through these channels, individuals are exposed to more opportunities, allowing for professionals to continually improve and be on the cutting edge of their industry.
● Part of Something Bigger: Those who are a part of the same communities as you are, on the various social media sites share a common interest and connection with you. This allows for you to have a positive influence and impact on others through your comments and interactions. Even though many of these people you have never met before in your life, and probably never will, provide you with a sense of community that is positive. This is a feeling that many want to experience on an ongoing basis throughout their life.
● Giving Back: One of, if not the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to allow others to be a part of your world and to give back to those in need. The old saying, of “what goes around comes around” is very applicable when it comes to social media and our connections on social media. When you are able to give of yourself to help someone in need, you not only feel good about yourself, but studies have found that those who give back are healthier. Who doesn’t want good health?
Similar to the physical health benefits that come along with regular social media usage, there are social benefits as well. Some of these benefits are more obvious than others, and some are obscure, yet just as important.
● Ability to Connect Across the Globe: Probably the most obvious benefit associated with social media is the ability to connect with friends, family and complete strangers from all across the globe. You can utilize different platforms to stay connected with childhood friends who have moved away, high school friends who’ve gone off to college, or relatives who live half-way around the world. Despite who they are or where they are located, you can connect and stay connected with those whose relationships matter to you. Even if you don’t talk often, you can still get a glimpse into their life and feel as though they are still a part of yours.
● Easy Communication: Once you have made your connections, added your friends, increased your following, you are then able to easily and instantly connect. Gone are the days of relying on a landline and hoping you’ll catch your friend or distant family member at home. Now you can quickly send a message that they can receive instantly, regardless of where they are at. We are blessed with the technology of having smartphones in our pockets that allow for us to remain connected with all of our connections, on all platforms at all times of the day or night.
● Real-Time News and Information: Along with being able to communicate at all times, we are also able to access and be exposed to news as it is happening, along with other pertinent information. You no longer have to wait for the nightly news to come on to learn about what is happening in your community and the world, all the information you could ever want and then some, is available at your finger-tips. An added bonus of using social media to get your news updates, is that you can customize your news and information discovery by only following the news outlets and sources that you want to follow with the subject areas that are important to you. This provides you with the freedom to customize what news you are exposed to, what sources you get your information from, without being forced to accept what is produced on the nightly news.
● Business Opportunities: Social media has revolutionized the way in which many business owners do business marketing. They are now able to connect with former customers, new customers and potential customers. Businesses are now able to promote their products and services to a large audience without breaking their marketing budget. In fact, social media has changed the way that many businesses market their products and services, so much so, that many thrive entirely on social media networking, making it so that they wouldn’t be able to operate their business otherwise.
● Fun and Enjoyment: Those who spend copious amounts of time on social media can tell you that social media can be simply enjoying and fun. In fact, many people use a break at work as an opportunity to jump on social media and catch up, or relax at home as a means to unwind from a day at the office. Because humans are naturally social creatures, it is rewarding, and sometimes addicting, to see comments and likes stack up on our own social media posts. It is convenient and fun to be able to see what our close friends and connections are doing and experiencing in their own lives without having to ask them directly.
Using Social Media to Be Successful
Aside from the ability to make connections, feel included as a member of a community, social media can also help you to reach your goals, be successful and accountable. Using social media to be successful and achieve your goals can prove to be especially beneficial. This is especially true for those who have goals where they are going to need accountability and support in order to achieve; such as, losing weight, getting more exercise, or anything else that requires you to step outside your current level of comfort. This is where turning to social media can be helpful in not only having accountability but turning your goals and dreams into reality.
● Set A Goal: It all starts by you taking a look at what it is that you want to achieve, and setting a big, long-term goal and smaller short-term goals that are realistic and attainable. This can apply to every aspect of your life, not just personal or professional. Once you have decided what it is that you want to work towards, it is critical for you to establish a plan of action that will set you up for success. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started:
o What is the first goal that you want to achieve?
o What will motivate you?
o What is your biggest challenge?
Answering these questions can provide you with direction to help you come up with ideas for goals that will help you to achieve your ultimate end goal. With your long-term goal established, and a plan of action drafted, it is time to take it to social media. Depending on your goal, there are different sites outside of the most popular (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) where you can find tools for motivation, connections and support. If you’d prefer to connect with friends and family that you are already connected with, simply make a post about your goal, asking for support and motivation as you work to achieve your goal. Provide specific ways in which they can support and encourage you as you work towards your end goal.
● Involve Other People: No matter what your goal or aspiration is, your attitude towards it will make all the difference about whether or not you are successful in achieving your goal. When possible include others on your journey to reaching your goal. Everyone likes a success story; they like them even more when they can say that they played a part in you achieving success. If your goal is to lose weight, ask if anyone wants to join you, where you can motivate and hold each other accountable. If your goal is to own your own business, ask to interview successful business owners that you admire and respect about what it takes to be successful. If your goal is to own your own home, start by talking to those in the industry about what it takes to qualify for a home loan, what is involved in the home buying process and start working towards making that dream a reality. Whatever your goal is, there are people out there in your connections who can help you to achieve your goal, when you include them on your journey. Social media makes it easier than ever to include others in your journey to success, all it takes is letting people know about your goal and how they can help, and the support will come flooding in.
Social Media Gives Back
Aside from all of the other benefits that come from social media use, there is one that we have yet to fully explore—the ability to give back. This benefit is arguably one of, if not the biggest benefit associated with social media usage. What exactly does this mean? It’s simple, there are people all around us who could use a little bit of help or support, organizations in need of fundraising, good causes need support to get off the ground; which is where social media can help. When you spend time on social media sites, grow your following and connections, you are able to potentially reach a vast number of people very quickly.
When you have the ability to reach that many people with minimal effort on your part, you can easily and quickly promote a good cause, fundraiser, or campaign that could benefit from the public’s help. This small act on your part can have a significant impact on the beneficiary, potentially more than you’ll ever know.
A lot of people are willing, ready and able to provide financial assistance, prayers, meals, or anything else to those in need, but simply don’t know who or where to donate. When you share a good cause, fundraiser or person’s story, you are providing not only yourself, but those whom you are connected with on social media the ability to give back. It is always amazing to me, how quickly and how far a simple post on social media can spread, especially when it is asking for help or assistance for someone in need.
Scrolling through a social media news feed, I have discovered many different causes where individuals, couples, and organizations are asking for assistance. Sometimes they are simply asking for people to share their post to get information out to the general public, others are asking for financial donations to provide assistance to someone in need, and yet others are to bring communities together to lend aid during a natural disaster.
Recently, when Omaha, Nebraska experienced extreme flooding, the community rallied together. Through social media, residents were able to post about specific areas that were in need of help with sandbagging, and cleanup. With word out that specific areas were in need of help, different religious and other organizations were able to put together and organize groups of volunteers to provide help where it was needed most. Without the help of social media, many who wanted to volunteer might not have been able to as they wouldn’t know where to go to volunteer or how they could help others.
Another examples would be, in my hometown, there is a local icon, a local hero of sorts. This man is a special needs man, who rides around town on a bike, regardless of the weather. He smiles and waves to everyone, bringing a smile to your face. Recently, this local icon turned seventy, and for his birthday the community rallied together to create a day where the whole community could bike around town with him. The idea behind this event was to return the joy and smiles to this man that he has been spreading around our community for years. This simple act of kindness and love showed towards our community hero, was advertised and promoted via social media, and created a platform in which anyone who wanted to could participate. This event was entirely free, which just goes to show that you don’t have to have money to give back to others.
You too can benefit from this attribute of using social media, by sharing and promoting good causes, fundraisers that you see, for those you know, or those that tug at your heart strings. While you might not notice the benefit of sharing and giving back right away in your own life, those whom you help will notice and will be forever grateful to you. In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”. Remember that the next time you boost, share, tweet, or post about an opportunity to give back to others in your community, circle of friends, family members or complete strangers, you never know just how far reaching your impact can and will be when you use social media to give back and help others.
Author: Ashley Christensen