Introduction to Social Media

When someone hears the term, social media or even social networks it is obvious that they would start thinking and talking about famous social media networks especially Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and others but of course it is more than that. Although every definition given to social media is either too broad or sometimes way specific. But in any way social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitates the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

[1][Wikipedia] as mentioned above due to variety and deferent features of each social media the definition can be challenging; however they all share some common features.

Social media are interactive and internet-based websites and/or applications

Content generated by users including text, video, images or other form of data are the fundamental to their existence.

Users create specific and unique profiles for each of the social media app or website, by which they can use its content and share their own.

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Online social networks are developed by connecting user’s profile with other individuals and/or groups.

In 21st Century social media is active, accessible and widely used more than any other traditional form of media such as TV, Radio, newspapers and magazines; research has shown that the use of social media is increasing by high percentage each year and some users of other media like newspapers has already replaced it with social media or are reading the same content on digital devices like smartphones.

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The usage and popularity of social media can be very will explained by showing some statistics which were gathered by [2]

500,000 new accounts are created on Facebook every day that means 6 new profile every second

Over 95 million photos are uploaded on Instagram every day

People watch up to 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day and 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.

The statistics mentioned above shows the wide usage of social media which is because of one of its important features which is that social media outlets operate in a dialogic transmission system (many sources to many receivers.)[4][Wikipedia] While traditional media operates under a mono-logic transmission model (one source to many receivers). Simply it means everyone can only watch one program on TV channel; while on YouTube or other social media every user can access or view deferent content on that media at the same time.

Talking about how social media were founded a research by Monica Riese about the definitive history of social media can help us; from which we can learn that social media may have been influenced by the 1840s introduction of the telegraph in the US, which connected that country. Then came the ARPANET which first became online in 1967, the launch of the PLATO system; and other which most of them were in the United States of America and by MIT and university of Illinois. And by the time personal computer were introduced by IBM and Apple the possibility and growth of this type of media became even more realistic. And back in 20th century social media websites started to launch and grow; to which the development of windows operating system for PCs helped and made it possible for consumers. Deferent websites were launched like GeoCities, Classmates, and SixDegrees among which was famous. LinkedIn and Myspace were launched in 2003 and Facebook was launched in 2004. [3] (The Social Construction of Media: Social Media, Culture, and Everyday Life, 2019)

Types of Social Media

Dividing social media into deferent categories can differ to one’s opinion or the reason for which we want to categorize them because of their wide range of features and method of operating or because of people or special type of activity that they are intended and are created for. But by any mean here we are categorizing them into nine deferent types which will include most if not all types of social media existing nowadays( Biteable, 2019).

Social Networking Sites

Simply put Facebook is a social networking site, in this type of sites users can share their thoughts, ideas, images, videos, take part in live discussions in groups or private ones. It is intended to connect and network users to each other.

Image Sharing Sites

This types of sits are specifically created for sharing images to one’s profile and to the user’s followers in that site. Examples of this type can be Flicker, Instagram and others.

Video Hosting Sites

Watching videos on internet was deferent than today until YouTube revolutionized the way we watch and share of social media. This types of social media is especially intended for sharing, watching and accessing shared video content.

Discussion Sites

This type is designed for discussions, one has a question he or she can ask it on this type of sites or someone else want to join a hot topic on the internet they join this type of sites. Examples of this type of social media is Reddit and Quora. One good thing about this type is that users don’t need to give lots of their identifying information.

Community Blogs

Community blogs give users opportunity to share topic and express their thoughts without having to run a blog from self-hosted websites. They can reach to readers and share their ideas using community blogs which are easier then self-hosted websites. Example can be Medium and Tumblr.

Social Review Sites

Booking a restaurant, finding places on a trip or buying a product becomes easy with social review sites, this type of social media helps and shares review of deferent product, places or experiences to their members, which help them decide better.

Sharing Economy Sites

Good examples of this type are AirBnB and Raver which not only help members to find good deals on holidays, they bring together people who need something and those who wants to share it, which is a good way for sharing economy and helping one another.

Social Gaming

Binging people around the world by playing online games and announcing international gaming competitions which are mostly held by game developer companies.


Forums are an important and useful type of social media which gives members the ability to talk and discuss specific topics which can be political or relevant academic studies depending on the type forum which one is member of.

Evaluating the Evolution and Growth of Social Media

It is better to think in general when evaluating the evolution and growth of social media and its deferent types mentioned above; for all of them have and had the same reasons of growth; we can say that when they first became popular and effective in the early years of 21st century; they were praised for their ease of access and important features like delivering to a large number of people in a very fast way. After that we believe each type of social media was launched because of a need and a reason which was among people; for which they grew fast as well. Think of sharing videos for deferent reasons that be education, cinema, music, art, news, sports; a video sharing site can be and is very useful for that reason. Same is for social networking websites like Facebook which bring people together by connecting to each other; we are in an era which people are busier than ever before so something like Facebook can connect people virtually and it is for that reason which Facebook is so popular and widely used by people.

On the other side Sharing economy sites were created, so people can find and reach each other using these sites to help each other with their needs; trips are common around the world so for making it easy and enjoyable there are social review sites which one can benefit; or if someone from Malaysia wants to play an online game with his friend in Afghanistan he or she can join social gaming sites.

One another and important reason for the growth and development of social media is the interest of businesses for advertising, selling products and reaching their customers using social media. Which is easier and cheaper than traditional ways of serving customers.

We saw and are witnessing a lot of inventions, innovations and development in the field of technology in 21st century which each one effected the other and helped it grow. 3G and 4G mobile data Internet, smartphones, tablets, the development of PCs and all those other had a roll in development of social media and made social media’s fast growth possible(Brandwatch, 2019).

Impact of Social Media on Business

Social media nowadays not only connect businesses to customers but businesses to each other as well; WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media and messaging are essential for businesses to run. While most of social media apps and websites themselves are profitable businesses; they have also been very interesting for other businesses. And for that reason social media have helped many businesses grow and profit even better yet deliver better services to their customers. While profiting from ads on that media as per statistics shown by Statista social media companies earned a sum of more than 13.1 billion USD only in the first half of 2018 which might be impossible for most traditional media. The impact on business can be both positive and negative as we describer as followed:

Increase Brand Awareness

Branding is the most important part of marketing in business and social media have been very useful for businesses because they could reach a large number of targeted customers via social networks.

Boost Sales

All businesses either sale services or products, and social media has helped them a lot; because of easy advertisement, online selling via social media and/or announcing new discount or flash sales. And many companies use them and agree that social media increase sales.

Crisis Communication and Reputation Management

Businesses and companies often run into crisis and they need to keep up with their customers to manage the crisis while retaining their reputation and customers.

Learn More About Your Customers

Targeted Advertising

In most cases social media is undeniably useful for businesses and have a positive impact; busy customers also prefer contacting with businesses using social media. But sometime they can be harmful and may damage the brand or reputation. Hera are some way they have negative impact on business. (Hootsuite Social Media Management, 2019)

A Mistake Made on Social Media Is Hard to Rectify

Suppose a company shared something embarrassing; or posted a big discount by mistake and then removed it back; people may start talking about that mistake on social media and the spreading of it can damage the business image.

Negative Customer Reviews Are Very Harmful

Social media websites like Facebook adds the option of reviewing a business page, which can be useful; but if reviews were negative they can be harmful and damaging.

Time Consuming

Customer often message to business page and profile and ask repeated questions; and businesses have to answer all of them to satisfy each one of those customers and make a good image of the company; which takes and needs a lot of time and attention.

At the end beside its negative impact businesses use these media a lot for advertising and that is a big reason that these type of media is so profitable.

Impact of Social Media on Education

In this case however let us start with the negative impact of social media on education; because social media have harmful impact of education in contrast to positive and beneficial.

The use of social media have created a lack of focus and concentration among student who tend to check their social media profile and study at the same time; which caused them a lower academic performance.

Bullying on social media or cyberbullying has been found to be more damaging to students’ in schools and other academic places, because it can reach a large number so fast and lasts very long on those profiles. And that is why most schools and colleges have rules for it.

It is time consuming for students which:

  • They spend their valuable time on social media instead of studying
  • They don’t socialize in person and don’t meet friends face to face which leads to weak communication skills and abilities in real life and society.
  • Students often rely on easy to access information of social media and avoid researching; and also they might have weak writing skills because of using digital devices which auto corrects grammatical and spelling errors. (, 2019)

But of course social media also have positive impact on education; in most back warded and non-developed countries in which the level and percentage of literacy is low; people who started using these social media tried to read and write on social media; and many of them could do that. They now can read and writes and often learn new thing on social media.

Social media connects students to each other and students to their teachers and schools/colleges, which increases their contact with academics and makes the process of learning easier and enjoyable. Social media also have a good amount of information related to general knowledge or academics and there are even special social media for academic purposes, such as academic forums or community blogs which students and even teachers can benefit from. (Blaylock, 2019)

Impact of Social Media on Society

All the improvements that our lives have today is a good news but even in such case in 21st century we humans are busier than ever; we often can’t meet our friends or family members in person; not because we don’t want to but probably because we are busy with ourselves and our personal life. And that is where social media become very useful to the society and connect us no matter wherever we are or what time it might be.

Accessing news and especially breaking news is important for people and social media becomes very active among people when an acceding happens or is thought to happen. Catching international criminals or finding lost friends and family members cannot be done better than using social media.

Social media have helped people become aware and active in politics more than ever, because the content is created by users and is delivered to other users of that media instantly, which is opposite of traditional media which is easier to censored.

Well those above are all good news; social media have been a major reason for depression and anxiety in society which presents the negative impact of them. General addiction to social media has caused many problems among people such as lack of communication, depression and face to face socializing. (MakeUseOf, 2019)

left125095Online privacy of users on these media have raised a lot of negative views among international community due too many breaches of personal information of users which affected even millions of people. And probably today and important topic when reviewing social media is how they handle users’ identity and privacy.

Another reason is that people may compare themselves and their life to other users which might have better life or fancier look comparing to them which we believe can cause lack of motivation.

Cyberbullying is yet another major problem which we can say that cyberbullying is not because of the nature in which social media operates but instead it is what people themselves do it. But in any way it has been found to be much harmful than bullying in person.

Unrealistic expectation is yet another reason which can create negative impact and emotions for example a user shares his or her success on social media but people don’t pay attention or bully or make fun of them.

Taking about negative impact of social media on society we can conclude that they either cause depression and anxiety or becomes addiction or damages one’s health. (MakeUseOf, 2019)

Brief Conclusion

Social media is an important tool of staying connected in 21st century; because of their deferent type available today and their wide features; they have in most cases replaced some traditional media and is now a part our lives.

Beside in positive or negative impact on deferent aspects of society or human behavior we believe that important thing is how we use it not how it can be used. And when used properly it can bring together people of deferent and/or opposite believes. And can take part in creating a friendly international society which is fundamental to world peace.


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  2. Brandwatch. (2019). 123 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019].
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Cite this page

The Impact of Social Media in the 21st Century. (2020, Nov 18). Retrieved from

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