Social media first evolved in its original form around 17 years ago with the advent of Geocities. Since then, it has developed into numerous platforms which together, now provide the world with as-it-happens news, personal comments, updates and a real time global community.
From a social perspective, social media allows individuals to track down long lost friends and relatives. The modern extended family unit, often spread across the four corners of the globe, can communicate instantly; sharing news, photos and videos easily and quickly.
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Home workers or those who are alone and feel isolated can take comfort in listening to other’s conversations or taking part in interesting debates.
Once thought to be the domain of teens and young adults, social media has slowly spread to become a valid communication tool for all ages, often spanning generations.
The popularity of social media and the development of increasingly sophisticated technology has meant that it has now become easier to target specific groups of individuals, where once businesses had to rely on questionable direct mail lists and the printed press in order to reach their target markets.
Facebook is still seen as one of the key platforms for marketing a retail business. Showcasing products, offering exclusive promotions and running competitions to hundreds or even thousands of interested individuals at one time for absolutely free is a potent attraction for commercial organisations.
Meanwhile, B2B organisations and particularly those operating in the professional services sector, flock to LinkedIn. This platform allows virtual networking to take place 24/7, globally. Reducing a company’s carbon footprint, saving costs and time away from the office means that the business development function has now become more targeted, more cost effective and arguably, may even help with that holy grail – the ever elusive work:life balance.
Finally, Twitter – perhaps the master of all social media platforms. With an estimated 175 million accounts, it seems that the world and his dog communicate using this medium. From celebrities telling their fans what’s really going on in their life to journalists and news reporters identifying leads and supporting material, Twitter can be a deep pool of information if used correctly.
Businesses can contact relevant journalists and editors directly, identify and begin to build relationships with specific individuals who are interested in their products, and ask for feedback from their client base.