For the last few weeks I have been trying my best to upskill and raise my game on social media. The term is everywhere, and I have discovered some interested dynamics, enough to write a short piece on my findings.
1. Noone knows what social media is for
I paraphrase Wikipedia, which defines social media as “using web-based and mobile based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”
So firstly it means communication, secondly it means ongoing communication. But there’s an addition for those wanting to use social media in business, which could be something along the lines of ”..for an agreed purpose.”
Social media could constitute a blog piece, a Facebook competition or a twitter forum. But it must be managed and with direction, otherwise it loses its usefulness. Signing up and logging on is insufficient.
2. Noone knows how to use the basics
My cousin more than adequately summed up the problem with the prevalence of uncapped business social media use. On learning that my aunt had bought a new iPhone 4, but couldn’t work out how to make a call, she drily stated,
“All the gear and no idea.”
Lots of people claim to know how to use social media, but they don’t know how to draft a tweet, when to upload a message and, most importantly, what they want to achieve from any communication.
Customer engagement on a first level is all fine and well, but I find that I can enjoy an internet mini-game and not want to buy more Coca cola. Demographics must be researched, basic knowledge of who is listening must be sought first.
Then a company must plans what they want to say, hire the appropriate agency to say it and then commission a measurable tweet/YouTube video/submit your own content engagement campaign accordingly.
The good news is that even basic social media use includes defined measurement metrics. You can access how many people viewed something, how many people sent something over email etc - and this could be turned into collation of customer email addresses, improving answering customer service questions more effectively, and hopefully, further sales.
But without mastering the basics of engagement, companies can damage their reputation.
3. Everyone is scared of social media
Companies feel that they should be embracing modern technologies, but they’re moving at such a rate that the average marketing manager cannot keep up. There’s an awful lot of discussing media strategy but not a whole lot of implementation, because there is so much information out there. A digital media friend of mine says:
“Brands are paranoid and fearful of social media marketing at the moment. Believe it or not it is still very much unknown territory to MOST brands at present.
“So, if an external provider can present an argument that their communication style further engages a brand’s audience and grows interaction and retention, they would make a compelling case for being hired.”
A business should concentrate on one or a couple of mediums only. E.g. a pizza place can use Foursquare to give out discount vouchers to potential customers in it’s immediate vicinity. It does not help a local Hackney pizzeria to be ‘liked’ by someone in South America.
Brands need to read more, research more and be brave when coming to using this form of media. As Ferris Bueller said we need to “stop and look around once in a while,” or we may miss how to utilise the amazing power we all have at our fingertips.
- Find your message and discover what you want to achieve.
- Consult an expert and use only one/few social media networks.
- Plan a campaign.
- Execute the campaign.
- Don’t panic.
And I am only just scratching the surface myself…
Tough times of late. With every death that Social Media instantaneously reports comes a further reminder of our own mortality, coupled with the realisation that online etiquette is increasingly subjective.
Unfortunately, events have taken a sinister turn in the social media sphere. A greatly respected artist, 92 unknown Norwegians and a successful drug-addicted jazz singer all died over the last 72 hours in vastly different circumstances.
This onslaught of shocking news has found social networks unable to cope. Do we say we’re sorry for the deaths? Do we grieve? Are silly jokes acceptable? Should we care more about one death than another?
Death affects everyone, yet it’s hard to prepare for it, or know how to react. Many are angry that others are acknowledging Amy Winehouse’s death more vocally than the unnamed Norwegians. Perhaps their anger stems from the notion that their deaths seem senseless and thus more deserving of outpourings of sentiment. Whereas, Winehouse’s death may be considered self-inflicted? Who is right?
Amy Winehouse lived her life through the new modern media age. We think we knew her and what she stood for. The Norwegians and to some extent, Lucian Freud, did not and thus that stronger connection isn’t there. It reminds me of the Psychological test where you’re asked to decide whether you should harm 20 people in exchange for keeping a member of your family alive. There is no right answer to that question either.
The media provides us with a window into others’ lives, making us feel like we know them, forging a rapport that doesn’t really exist. I feel a rapport with Freud through viewing his beautiful art. I feel sad that people died senselessly in Norway. I feel sad that scores of children are dying in East Africa every day. Can I do anything about it? Not enough. So between charitable donations and saying how sorry I am on a social networking site, I’m still very much impotent.
I believe that nobody should die before their time, but that inevitably they do. Murder, drug addiction, illness, it’s all heart breaking. People should be able to grieve. Any time spent mourning someone’s loss is important, and if a comment on Twitter acknowledging that makes you feel better, I think: you go ahead.
Today’s tip is based on the frightening speed in which Twitter has become the social media communication tool de jour.
Twitter used to be a geeky forum for techie ranters who were scared of sentences containing more than 140 characters. It then mutated into the socially acceptable way to follow celebrities without the need for a restraining order. Then, once these same celebs started communicating without the natural filter of publicists, all hell broke loose. Twitter became: popular.
But quietly, other savvy Tweeters have been carving out Twitter’s function as a top provider of breaking news, and as a way for business communities to network worldwide. Twitter has influence. And I am all for the power of words and pictures in shaping our future.
Therefore I have just discovered Peer Index, which uses a number of complex calculations to work out what influence you have in certain social media spheres, based on your tweets, followers, retweets and so on. My influence can be found here, at a very respectable 40/100.
What’s yours? And how can you improve it? Install Peer index (and Kynetx its Google Chrome plug in) and find out what’s your social capital? You might be surprised.