Have you ever been the person who had been shouted at “Stop spending your time on social media!”? Or maybe you are the one shouting it at someone?
Today, we are used to hear a lot of negative opinions about the social media. You know… this famous Generation Y, that is so self-centred and addicted to social media, prefers virtual contact and likes superficial photos… WRONG! Actually, they understand better than anyone the rules of our current digitalised world. In fact, the social media represents 3.196 billion users in the world according to the 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite and 49% of recruiters say they use professional social networks in their recruitment process (Apec).
Moreover, as Petra-Maria Schwertschlag – a specialist in Effective Communication, highlighted “Non-verbal communication makes up to 70% of our understanding of what we say and what we do to others […] Photographs cannot replace the actual channel of vision we have in face to face communication.” (listen to the recording below). In fact, we can’t deny that the social media has some downsides, but for the purpose of this article, we will write about its benefits. Are you sure that there are some benefits? Yes, and we are going to prove it:
©Copyright 2018 Clément Labergerie
WHAT DO WE GAIN BY USING SOCIAL MEDIA?
First of all, through social media, it is possible to learn about new things. It allows us to experiment things that we would never try before and build our own opinion. With time and experience, we learn to be more analytical and therefore adjust our own behaviour.
For instance, if you’re really passionate about journalism, the social media gives you the possibility to be directly confronted with your public. At the same time, it makes it possible to get in touch with professionals that could inform your work.
Nowadays, with the use of smartphones and digital tools, each one of us could be a potential journalist. People want to have a direct contact with the source and to be confronted directly without a re-editing work from a third party. In fact, for André Gunthert, the uncontrolled and self-produced nature of some non-professional content creators, only increases confidence in their content. It is considered as “a guarantee of spontaneity and fidelity”. For example, YouTube or Flickr are video and photo digital platforms transformed into news media platforms. The audience is using and feeding these alternative media platforms to fill an information gap from traditional media.
Petra-Maria Schwertschlag raised an interesting point to the fact that “what is happening for social media is that they try to renew this lack [of non-verbal communication] by photographs” (Refer to the below recorded interview). At the same time, in his book, “L’image partagée. La photographie numérique”, André Gunthert suggests that the image on the social media has a new role. He calls it: “the conversational image” as it consists in using text, emojis, photos, videos, gifs, stickers and sometimes all these together, in order to give more consistency to the subject or the discussion. These new images are used under very specific circumstances…for instance, you would never use an emoji in a professional environment! We learn to use or reuse them with the right audience and in the right context. This allows us to create new relationships with people that we would never meet in any other situations.
©Copyright 2018 Yann Gourvennec
So, the social media is a place of experimentation that enables users to learn the rules of the newly established social world. In daily life communication, we need to train our voice, to use the space, to use our body expressions and to make eye-contact with our public. This operating mode is pretty much the same as the one seen on the social media.
Today, they are powerful tools to learn how to promote ourselves in a public place, through the test and learn techniques. It includes big topics such as, personal branding and social selling. For example, each interaction with this present article can give it more visibility… indeed, this is an amazing way to find and attract people. And if this is not achieved, this article might disappear among many others on the web… but next time we’ll learn from it and hopefully the same mistakes won’t be repeated again. It’s about ‘keep on trying and learning’ in every step of the way.
Like everything, the social media needs to be used in a smart way to promote yourself professionally, to learn new things, to keep on being curious and to be open to new ideas.
And you, to what extent do you think that the social media changes the way we communicate? Don’t hesitate to leave your comments below!
This article was written by students on the Grenoble École de Management Advanced Masters in Digital Business Strategy. The task was to create an article within 24 hours including varied media and to share it. The students were responsible for all aspects of writing, editing and uploading with no input from the lecturers. It has, therefore, not been checked by us before uploading. Thanks to everyone who took part by agreeing to be interviewed, answer questions and share the content.
Lecturer, Grenoble École de Management