Oct 1, 2011

The Commercialism of Social Media

What’s currently the most overrated business trend? Social media. What’s currently the most underestimated business trend? Social media. These were the top results of Fast Company’s survey to a group of 500 executives at "Innovation," the magazine’s half-day event hosted in New York City on April 2011.

Anyone with an internet connection can instantly upload an article, testimonial, review, opinion, comment, photo or video - and be seen by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people at a time – at no cost. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) has become a tool that allows ordinary people take the role of “citizen journalists.” Now everyone can have their 15 seconds, 5 minutes or even 15 minutes of fame. 

Studies have found that, before social media, people could generally hold some kind of contact with 90 people in their lifetime. Now, that number could easily triple.

More recently, on June 28, Pope John Benedict XVI historically sent its first "tweet" - which was written by his communications team- and where he just had to press the "tweet" button via an iPad.  The lesson here is that social media isn’t just another business fad – it’s for every industry to embrace in order o stay competitive – and relevant.

If social media allows individuals to proactively group themselves into pre-determined niches….this is a marketer’s dream! There’s no coincidence that “social media” includes the word "media," which means that this technology has become another valid communication channel for marketers- as well TV, radio and  e-mail at one point.  .

In a few years - as happened several years ago to - probably there's another Twitter - or a new alternative to Facebook, but the reality is that if you're not actively using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIN, somehow you will soon be – and your colleagues, and your audience and your employees.

In a spiritual perspective, social media profiles just a click away, we found a convenient way to satisfy our need for instant gratification. Facebook wants you to "like," Twitter wants you to "follow" and wants you to "connect" - the reality is that ultimately, social media has a common drive:  connecting people with people. The same reason that social media have added new rules of how we interact – and stay connected – its also the same initial driver  why Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn were created:  we are creatures of relationships and we have an innate need of staying connected and relate to others. People are  defined by other people – it’s part of our DNA.
In marketing, a “focus group” is a costly technique still used today by big brands to discover insights about pre-determined products, slogans or specific topic in a small group setting. If social media channels are effectively aligned with other marketing and customer services practice and realistic measurable goals are established, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can act as an immediate – and continuous - large-scale focus group for business and individuals.

The question is no longer: is social media right for my business or for my personal brand? Instead, it should be: how I’m including my business in the conversations already happening online? Business must go where their audience is. Your audience is proactively – and passionately – engaging in social media…. are you?

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