Social media is a tool that we all have love/hate relationships with. We all love parts of it and hate other parts, or some of us love it all at times and hate it all at other times. Personally I love Twitter and hate Facebook. Does that mean that I don’t use Facebook? No. Unfortunately, I do use it. Twitter I absolutely love though. Since I started using Twitter I have never doubted its usefulness to me personally, and to businesses. I am not afraid to admit that one of the biggest reasons I landed my current job at tenfour is because of Twitter. I have been able to connect with people across the US and into other countries because of Twitter, and this is something that 10 years ago wouldn’t have been possible for a recent grad with limited resources.
From a business standpoint, social media has provided numerous ways to engage with customers. The main issue with social media is that companies all too often simply see social media platforms as a way to broadcast their message to more people, and this (I believe) is the wrong attitude to have. Before social media you only had a few different touch points with your customers and potential customers: in-store interactions, your customer service call centers, and email (I might be forgetting some). Now you have all of those things, but also multiple other platforms that give your brand a chance to shine in the eyes of your consumers. More often consumers are reaching out to brands on social media platforms when they have questions, concerns, or praise. If the brands practice is to ignore those things and simply continue to push out marketing messages to their followers, they will quickly be viewed negatively among their followers. If, however, they engage with their customers and interact with them; it humanizes the brand and allows consumers to have more of an emotional connection to them. Brands should never forget the importance of emotional connections.
The ever-changing landscape of social media definitely keeps things interesting , yet at the same time very confusing. There is Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and countless other social media platforms that users and brands have to be aware of and learn. Not all the platforms are right for every single brand, but I guarantee there is not a single brand out there that can’t benefit from at least one social media platform. Pinterest is an interesting social media platform that has received a lot of buzz lately, both good and bad. I am on it and use it when I remember to use it; I see how it appeals to user’s visual sense. I unfortunately am not a very visual person so I tend to forget about it, but then every once in a while I come across a picture or image that draws me in and I “pin it.” Google + had a huge splash when it released, and then was quickly forgotten about by most people. However, it has recently been discovered that if you care about SEO at all as a brand it needs to be something that you are thinking about. Since Google is the most used search engine it makes sense that they would serve up their own social media platform on searches.
Proximity based social networking was the theme at SXSW this year with brands such as, Highlight, EchoEcho, Banjo, and Sonar making their debuts there. These will be interesting to watch and see how they progress. Will they change the way that we network? Maybe, but they might also just be good ways to meet eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. Still, being able to know who is close to your proximity that you might have things in common with, or if any of those already in your network are close by it might make it easier to connect and hang out.
And last but certainly not least, (actually probably most important of all) is how brands are using social networking platforms to make things fun, and offer tools to users to help them network with people, or simply make their lives a little easier and more enriching. One of the before mentioned also launched at SXSW this year : Tweet-a-Beer (shameless plug). This was a project that I was heavily involved with and spread wildly at SXSW. It allows users who are on Twitter to send their followers (or anyone really who is on Twitter) a beer. Before anyone accuses us of voodoo magic (we are not actually transporting beer through the interwebs), it sends your friends five bucks for them to buy themselves a beer. This allows our service to work anywhere that Twitter and PayPal are, and it doesn’t limit you to a specific bar where it needs to be redeemed which is the true beauty of it.
So the moral of all of this is that social media is a reality! Know the different platforms, be familiar with them, learn them, love them or hate them; it doesn’t really matter. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon; so just deal with it, but please figure out the right way to use it.
Guest post by: @logbennett Follow him on Twitter!