Social media is both a blessing and a curse. If you’ve spoken with anyone recently about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I’m sure you’ve probably griped, even if just a little. While it can be a great way to connect with family and friends, and even grow your church, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks.
I love studying social media and social media trends because the way we use social media reveals a lot about us.
A few weeks ago, Smart Insights, a digital marketing company, published an infographic from the GlobalWebIndex detailing the top 10 most common reasons people use social media.
The results are fascinating. Here are the top 10 motivations for using social media:
Really, when you look at these 10 categories, they can be put into three basic buckets:
To Engage With Others
About half of the motivations we have for using social media could be labeled as “others-focused” in one way or another.
People use social media for social purposes—who would have thought?
The root of this may be the insatiable desire for others’ approval, or it may just be a genuine interest in the lives of others and world events. Some may want to use social media to “get ahead” socially, or simply just to keep in touch with friends far away.
Social media is great for networking and meeting people who have similar interests or areas of work. Whether you’re using LinkedIn or other, more mainstream social platforms, social media does have serious professional benefits.
To Share About Ourselves
Another major category of motivation for our use of social media is to share about ourselves. We like using social media to share our opinions or photos/videos of our lives.
This is logical and doesn’t necessarily point to self-centered, narcissistic motives.
We like to share our opinions and pictures or video of our lives because we like to hear the opinions and see the life experiences of others.
Social media isn’t a truly “social” experience if you aren’t consuming others’ content and creating content of your own.
What is important to remember in our sharing is humility.
We ought to log off social media if sharing our theological opinions or vacation pictures turn into a prideful exhibition of how important we think we are.
Engaging with others online by sharing our own content is great, and it can be a great service to others in some settings, but we have to protect against thinking we are the center of the world.
Social media does a good job of making it feel like we are more important than we really are.
To Be Fulfilled
A couple of the top 10 motivations signal that we seek to find fulfillment of some sort in our use of social media.
About 34% of social media users use it to find funny or entertaining content, and about 27% of users are using it to research and find products to buy.
Finding fun, entertaining content on the internet is common. Hundreds of millions of people have Netflix accounts and watch goofy YouTube videos every day.
Most of us use the internet to buy things, too. Almost a month ago now, Amazon held Prime Day 2017 which saw 60% more sales this year than last.
Using social media to research/purchase products or watch funny videos is all well and good, but the temptation is to find some sort of fulfillment in these things.
We have to be careful about the degree to which we use social media for shopping or entertainment because even before social media, shopping and entertainment proved to be perfect idolatry material.
So, why do you use social media? If you had to choose just one or two of the top 10, which would you choose?
I think the top two reasons I use social media are: 1) general networking with other people and 2) to stay up to date with news and current events.