‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ a Sanskrit phrase which means that the whole world is one single family is no more an exaggeration. It’s amazing how rapidly the world is getting smaller and smaller owing to the increasing use of technologically advanced forms of communication. Social media has come into existence since the days of the telegraph. But the usage of social media gained momentum with the advent and subsequent development of internet.

As we know, Social media is a term which has a very vast definition; it appears to us in several forms including Internet forums, micro blogging, wikis, podcasts, photograph or picture sharing, video rating and social bookmarking etc. Simply put, it is a form of mass media that can be used for interactive, informational, educational or promotional purposes. The popularity of social media can be attributed to the fact that unlike regular media, users can interact with the source of information. It makes knowledge sharing a two-way process. Ease of access is what makes it is a preferred agent of information exchange. The following illustration summarizes the various forms of Social Media and the major players in the industry corresponding to various categories.

Every day, the number of users joining any form of social media is increasing exponentially. Facebook, a leading social networking site is rapidly moving towards a stratospheric 1 billion users worldwide. Currently there are around 900 million worldwide, and more than 45 million Facebook users in India. Social Media in India has been growing at 100 percent in the previous years. One third of India’s online consumers are aware of brands that have an online presence. Talking about this growing phenomenon Adrian Terron, Vice President, The Nielsen Company says “Social media is now ingrained in the way tech savvy Indians live their lives. With its ability to play multiple roles in an individual’s life by enabling shared experiences, creating linkages between communities and satisfying the need to be networked, its role in creating a deeper engagement is a boon to marketing.”
Social media has encroached upon every realm of the society. From online shopping to matchmaking, it has left its footprints everywhere. A recent Indian advertisement shows how each and every industry is using the concept of websites to enhance its reach. Internet has helped companies take marketing strategies to great heights. Digital Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Web Analytics etc are all the buzz words of the Marketing industry these days. A research paper published in late 2010 had given causes to believe that social media is providing a service that goes beyond real-time information, if observed carefully; it may be possible to predict price changes in the stock market using social media. Using tweets from Twitter, a popular social networking site, three researchers correctly predicted the direction of the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing price, nearly 3 out of 4 times, or 73.3% of the time. A London based retail clothing chain, Topshop, reached the largest online audience for a live-streamed fashion show with two million viewers tuning in from more than 100 countries to checkout Topshop’s unique latest collection. There was a direct impact of social media coverage, as people streaming online were able to immediately purchase the looks on the runway. Numerous items, including a dress that was the first outfit on the catwalk, sold out even before the show was over!
There are various dimensions to the potential of Social media. A report, released by the business consulting giant McKinsey Global Institute, showed that social-media tools stand to add $900 billion to $1.3 trillion to the economy — largely through increased productivity among skilled workers. That’s trillion with a T: To put it in perspective, that’s more than twice the annual revenue of Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), the top company on the Fortune 500.
The report aimed at “unlocking value and productivity through social technologies”, contained some rather surprising insights. For instance, while Twitter may occasionally distract employees who stop to check out an amusing photo, social-media tools as a whole can improve communication and collaboration between co-workers and even across enterprises — potentially increasing the productivity of workers by an impressive 20 to 25 per cent.
The benefits are particularly noticeable for high-skilled workers, including managers, who can use such tools to share their expertise in a more efficient manner. Moreover, their research showed that the industries with the highest percentage of workers who interact well among themselves have the highest spread of profits per employee. Still, McKinsey Global found that the real benefits of social media have yet to be mined. While the report found that 72% of companies use some form of social media, very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential benefit. “In fact, the most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped,”

Here is something even more interesting, social media could transform health care! It’s already doing it. At Medicine 2.0, a recent international conference on social media, mobile apps and the Internet pertaining to health care, there was some serious exploration done in terms of role of Social Media in transforming Health Care. It costs way too much, for one thing. And while we’ve made tremendous discoveries and stretched the capabilities of medicine in incredible ways, we aren’t necessarily getting healthier. And in all our discovering and stretching, in all our cool technologies and emphasis on efficiency, we risk losing the personal connections that can be so crucial. Social media can help with all of this, for two simple and important reasons.
First, social media is all about relationships. Facebook, Twitter, online support groups — they are all about sharing and interaction. And those are the building blocks for relationships. Relationships are crucial to health. We know that people with more and stronger social connections are more likely to be well and happy, and social media can bolster that. It can give people ways to not just interact with friends and family, but ways to meet new people. The online support groups in many ways can help patients, especially those with chronic diseases. Medicine itself is all about relationships. By finding ways for providers and patients to have conversations on social media, we could strengthen and support those relationships. This is a new frontier for us, and we’ll need to be thoughtful about how we do it, but if we can face transplants and cure leukemia, then maybe we can figure out a way for doctors and patients to be together on social media. Second, social media is all about communication that allows us to give information back and forth. The most common problems we see in patients are obesity, asthma and school or behavioral problems. All of these are problems that are complicated, that involve home and lifestyle and can change from day to day. If the doctors could be in touch with people regularly, know what’s going on and work together with them, they might actually make a difference. One classic case is where a doctor from the Center for Connected Health in Boston, managed to cut readmissions for congestive heart failure in half — just by having patients check their weight and blood pressure and sending the information in to the health care team, who made any necessary changes with them. That’s huge, thanks to social media!

Social Media can help in a bigger-picture way, too. By keeping track of online communication, Dr. Jonathan Brownstein and his colleagues at HealthMap have been able to track disease outbreaks as they happen, which helps the other doctors when it’s needed quickly and teaches them so much about the disease. Through sites like PatientsLikeMe, where people share information about themselves and their health and treatments, doctors have the opportunity to learn about diseases and treatments and side effects in ways they have never been able to do before.

The technology is incredible — the possibilities of mobile apps and the Internet are truly endless. That’s the beauty of this, really: Social media takes science and technology and mixes it with two fundamental human needs, relationships and communication .The discussion on boons of Social Media is indeed a never ending saga and unleashing the unearthed potential of Social Media is definitely one of the best ways of making the future of mankind endlessly exciting.

Leave a Comment

Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better