What is Social Media?
Social media is a category of online applications that allow YOU to do one or more of the following things:
- Republish content:
- link to people's stuff from your stuff
- Share this buttons
- pulling videos like
- Collaborate with other people
- Get to know other people
- You can follow @BarackObama on twitter (but we all know that's not really him)
- Friend (in some cases defriend) somebody on facebook
The tools that used to exclusively belong to large organizations are now in the hands of the people, YOU.
Social Media in Action
There are many social media tools available.
Before, if you wanted to tell a story you had to submit your work to an editor. They will give you feedback and you will have to do a few rewrites until it is approved to be published. Sometimes it takes years to publish a book and in many cases your work can be rejected. With social media, the means to tell a story has become accessible to the regular person. A few companies have realized the ease of use inherent in these tools that their websites are actually built on them. Self-publishing comes in so many different forms that we'll just list a few examples:
Facebook says that users upload approximately 2.5 billion photos each month. Digital cameras has made taking photos much easier and less expensive. Social media has made sharing of photos much easier and less expensive. Some people just share photos they take, others use it as a portfolio of their work. The range of quality and artistry in shared photos online start from the completely banal to masterpieces. Here are a few of the most popular photo sharing services available:
- Bad Examples
- The numerous and ever popular drunk photos
The art of moving pictures can be funny, sad, dramatic, shocking, and heartfelt. With the advent of video sharing services, people can now easily distribute their home videos, independent films, music videos, etc. Companies (some, not all) have to come to the realization that it's better to share their videos than have people distribute them without their consent. Here are just a few of the services that you can use:
- Good Examples
- Bad Examples
Besides email and instant messaging, social networking sites have become another way of keeping in touch with your friends. From uploading photos to leaving short messages to providing status updates, creating your own network of friends and acquaintance, and sharing with them has never been easier. Some sites are very personal while others are for professionals. Here are some of the most popularly used sites:
It's about you, me, and everybody else
A lot of people see the potential in social media such as:
- Official Google Blog
- Watch music videos from Sony published artists
- Hyatt tweets on finding job opportunities and helping people find rooms
But don't ever forget that it's about PEOPLE. People want to talk to other people, they want to talk to you. Social media allows you to create relationships with other people that you know, people that you don't know, and people who have the same interests as you.
It's about building a community of PEOPLE. Being part of a community also involves giving back and sharing. You follow and get know people because you find them valuable. Give them a reason to find you valuable and they will talk to you. Social media gives you that opportunity to expand your network and be part of multiple communities.
Before Diving In...
Here are a few things think about before swimming into these uncharted waters:
Be Valuable to People
There is only one reason why people will follow you on twitter or become a fan on facebook: you have something valuable to share. Beyond getting them to start following you, people have to have an incentive to keep following.
Never JUST talk about yourself (i.e. advertising). Ads are an interruption to what you are doing (watching TV, looking at the road, etc.). Instead of only pushing things out, you should also try to pull people in with news, resources, and thought provoking discussions. Choose the community/network that you're going to talk to and focus on how you will be part of that community. Have a purpose and distill it in your work.
Listen, Learn, Do
Communications in social media is a conversation: somebody talks and somebody listens. Just like any other conversation, you will listen to both the good and the bad. Do not be afraid of the bad, use it as an opportunity to hear feedback. Be prepared to act and show it. Failure to do so can tarnish your reputation, while success can improve it many times over.
They Can See You
People, guests, or customers love being kept in the loop. If you do decide to use social media, try to be transparent about a lot of things. Let people know how you handle bad feedback, what your organization actually does, how do you go about it, and who works for you.
Not to say that everything should be public but don't make it look like you're hiding something. Be honest.
We are People Too
Here's a little test if you've been listening. What is social media all about? (3 seconds...)
Everybody now....PEOPLE! Speak human. Nobody likes to talk to a company or a corporation. They want to talk to somebody like you. Try to be personal without patronizing. Social media is not a way to distribute a press release but a way to connect people. There's that word again...people...
Some companies are open on who's managing their profiles while others actually let their staff be the entry point into their company.
There is No Formula
Nobody really knows what works and what doesn't. No social media strategy is 100% successful. Don't be afraid to try things out but if they don't succeed then move on. Notice that there are millions of videos on youtube and twice as much blogs out there. 1 Yet only a handful ever become famous. See what others are doing and learn from them. Not everything will work but you'll never know until you try.
It's all about it! Creating a culture of customer-focused service.
Now what do you do?
- Take some time to think and reflect if using social media is right for you.
- If you do decide to wade in the waters, plan your strategy well. Avoid being part of the noise.
- Have an actual person run the show and give them the power to follow-through with customer requests/complaints
- Be prepared for both success and failure.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Joe [firstname.lastname@example.org] or Zack [email@example.com].