SOCIAL MEDIA: THE NEW ENCYCLOPAEDIA?

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Once upon a time, the World Wide Web was a shiny new canvas just beginning to be filled up with bucket loads of information – and we couldn’t get enough. As time has gone on, you would think that the growing quantity and variety of information at our fingertips could only satisfy our eager consumer appetites and mean we were busier than ever surfing the web. Not the case.

According to research by global media agency, Carat, more than half of people have stopped surfing internet sites because there is too much choice and information out there. We have reduced our surfing to a few key brands, with the top five trusted UK sites being the BBC, Amazon, BBC Online, Google and ITV.

It seems that, in some ways, we’ve reverted back to being more social creatures. The same study found that 41 per cent of people now prefer to trust recommendations on social media, rather than search content, because they feel overwhelmed by the wealth of choice on the web. This trend is strongest among those aged between 18 and 28.

Social media as a source of information may be the more attractive option because we can target certain venerable individuals. Not only this, but, with the use of hashtags, we have access to the thoughts of the general public, who can collectively reveal the information required. Perhaps people attribute more authenticity to this more sociable method of retrieving information, as opposed to words existing on a webpage with no identifiable author.

While this seems like a positive thing for the individual, those who this research does pose a problem for are advertisers. Websites are littered with adverts and, with reduced traffic, advertisers will need to turn to social media platforms – the more expensive outlets for marketing – to get our attention. Only time will tell how this impacts our feeds.

So, surfing or tweeting – how do you prefer to find things out?

@AW_Shaw