The Benefits of Social Media

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In my previous post, I shared some steps that help me to avoid the potential pitfalls of social media. Instead of being a setback, it is a forum where I have virtually met many like-minded individuals and learned a lot of valuable information. Here are some ways this has been possible for me. Although I am primarily referring to Facebook, the same concepts apply to other social media outlets, too.

Networking

As I venture into a new career, social media has allowed me to tap into my greatest resource: people. I have become Facebook friends with many successful entrepreneurs. In addition to accessing the helpful information they post, I also have the great value of my relationships with them. I’ve been surprised that some of them even accepted my friend request, but I knew there was nothing to lose by trying. For those that don’t accept strangers as friends, many allow anyone to follow their page or have a separate business page that anyone can “like” and access.

Even if you are not changing careers, this still applies to you. You have access to the people you once only dreamt of. Who do you dream of connecting with? Who do you admire? Through social media, you now have the means of connecting with them! How exciting is that!

Facebook Groups

Facebook is not just about looking at your friends’ selfies and puppy pictures, although it could be if that’s what you want! It’s an awesome way to connect with others for a common cause. When I lived in Miami, I was the only one I knew who was vegan, thirtysomething and single, and childfree by choice. Through Facebook, I was able to join groups of likeminded individuals. These groups are safe zones where we can speak freely about our decisions and lifestyles and feel connected and understood. I don’t care how confident and independent you are, feeling validated is always like a breath of fresh air.

If there’s something that connects you to others or makes you feel alone, do a quick Facebook search for it. There is probably a group out there for you! You are probably not alone. If you don’t find one, why not start one yourself? There’s got to be someone else out there who relates and is looking for the same thing.

These groups are low key and no pressure. Some groups do require permission to join, but you are free to leave if it’s not for you. You can also choose to receive notifications from the group (or not) and participate as much or as little as you would like.

Purpose

Before I knew about all these great Facebook perks, and probably before some of them existed, I joined Facebook as a way of keeping in touch with my long distance friends and relatives. Before I knew it, friend requests were pouring in from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

It can be easy to become inundated with other people’s agendas. It can help to take a step back and remember why we’re on social media. If I’m using it for fun, I want to see positive and funny images, not drama. If I’m using it to stay in touch, I want to spend that time wisely with meaningful connections.

Once you know your why, make sure you’re not allowing others to detract from that experience. Don’t be afraid to unfriend people. If you want to remain friends, but don’t care to see someone’s posts, you can always take the less drastic step of unfollowing.

Everyone, including the creators of Facebook, has their own agenda. Make sure it’s not negatively impacting yours. If you feel like your social media is not serving you and those around you, take action. This includes contributing to the social media world as well as decluttering it. Like, create, and share the type of posts that you want to see.

People are making large sums of money off of our social media use. I’m okay with that, but I am going to make sure I use it to my advantage and not to my detriment.

Instead of complaining about the garbage clogging up our newsfeeds, let’s be the change we wish to see in the social media world.

Photo: Flickr/Jason Howie

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