How Social Media Is Disrupting Communication

In Technology by Daniel Newman5 Comments


This article is the first of a 4 part follow up to the earlier published 4 Trends Transforming the Way We Communicate. The original article can be found here.

Everybody on the planet would probably agree that the world’s youth are pervasive users of social media. The generation often referred to as the millennials embrace their social platforms and that is why 75% (likely representative of 95%+ of those with access) of millennials use social media on a weekly basis and 55% are on the platforms multiple times daily.

What may come to people as more of a surprise is the fact that the fastest growing segment of social media users aren’t the younger generation, but rather the 45-54 year old age segment where over 55% of the population now have at least one social profile.

With the top social media networks Facebook and YouTube both serving more than one billion monthly users, social has now reached a tipping point where it has completely upended the way many people communicate for business, with friends and with loved ones.

Business Communication Shifts With Social Media

On the business side, companies are turning to social more than ever before.  Some of the ways that companies are using social media are:

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Run Contests and Promotions
  • Networking With Prospects and Clients
  • Recruit, Hire and Train Employees

While these represent only a small number of ways that companies are using social media, they do reflect a rapidly growing trend of companies turning to social as a leading vehicle for business development and growth activities.

With LinkedIn leading the way with more than 39% of professionals who use social choosing this platform, it shows that the most visible activity by professionals on social media is using it as a networking tool (Acquiring clients and Talent Acquisition).

Drowning in Social Media

Drowning in Social Media (Photo credit: mkhmarketing)

That being said, 41% of organizational leaders and managers are clamoring for more investment in social to help with the growth in the aforementioned areas such as brand awareness and new customer acquisition.

As a whole, the social trend is changing the way businesses are operating and therefore the way they are communicating with their customers, prospects and employees and as our work lives and professional lives continue to blend together more ubiquitously, the communication affects are also being seen in the way we engage with our friends and family.

Social Changes How We Communicate With Friends And Family

Even though 75% of people say they would like to spend more time with their loved ones, 60% of people say that the majority of their personal interactions with this group is done via social media.

This is because the platforms are both widely accessible and they provide immediacy of communication between people. This wide availability is driving a trend of people preferring social over in-person methods to communicate. In fact, 90% of people say they prefer digital methods for not only staying in touch with loved ones but for finding and building new relationships.

In today’s social media rich society, adults are spending 20-28 hours online per week engaging with their more than 275 personal relationships on social platforms. However, these relationships rarely translate offline as only 11% of this group regularly interact offline with their social media relationships.

What Does It Mean For Communication?

What is for sure is that Social in both our business and personal lives is shaking up the way we communicate.

While many people still long for high touch relationships that can be developed from attending conferences or seeing loved ones around the holidays, as a whole our society has become more than comfortable with having the vast majority of our relationships online.

As a trend, social is both disruptive and opportunistic as it allows more touch points in less time, but the relationships created can often be more superficial due to the lack of depth created by these interactions.

In the future social will continue to reshape the communication landscape, however I would like to believe that the 75% mentioned above who desire to spend more time in person with others will grow as volume will give way for depth. Leaving the question, will the technology driving social ever become so advanced that it can truly displace real life engagement? A topic for another day, but quite relevant in a world where virtual and augmented reality are being taken to new heights.

Stay tuned for the second installment of this series next week where we discuss how mobile Is Changing the way we communicate.

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


  1. Good social communication tyically results in more meaningful F2F interaction so they’re symbiotic

  2. Interesting. There is something frightening about what our interpersonal communication had become and how more it will change, but it’s not only to the bad. Anonymous networks, that are now mostly referred as ‘non-social’, probably have a bad influence. But more local networks, where most of the other users there are people you usually meet during the week (like circle, can actually connect between people in a way that will be reflected in the real world.

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