Future of Social Media

We are well aware that social media is very powerful and a lot of organizations have started using social media for their benefit. There is no doubt that social media is the next web. Despite the fact that social media and online engagement is the highlight in brand management for the past few years, it is still budding. Mr. Rogers taught brands to respond to each customer. To establish customer loyalty and generate customer engagement, providing unique, quality responses to every received comment is important. Social media interaction will have greater impact depending on the messaging.

Having said that, let us take a look at what smaller firms think about social media usage. A recent article in USA Today, “Study: Social media a bust for small businesses” tells us that almost 61% of small businesses don’t see the ROI on their social media activities. Despite that most of them have increased their time spent on social media pages. The article also tells us that smaller business are looking to acquire and engage new customers, gain leads and referrals, and to boost awareness about their business via social media. Smaller companies are using social media platforms to keep interacting with their customers so that they don’t lose them.

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The fact is undeniable that a lot of big businesses including giants like Netflix plan to make important disclosures to their investors via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies like Enterasys Networks hire new talent by looking at their tweets rather than their resume. This indicates that social media is heavily integrated into businesses. With the heavy integration of social media for important disclosures and for impromptu communication and surprise strategies, let us look at how the SEC and Bloomberg Are Embracing Social Media.  SEC has accepted that social media is an important medium that organizations use to communicate. SEC said that organizations are free to disclose information on social media provided they notify the stakeholders about the social media channels which will be used. Like SEC, even Bloomberg has accepted social media to be the future mode of communication. Bloomberg team will tweet information sorted according to company, asset class and other variables known as the Bloomberg Professional service. The decision integrates social media and investment and financial organization. Having said this, I would like to point to the fact that no industry or domain is insulated from social media.

Bloomberg Tweet

On the other hand, there are a number of smaller businesses that are not getting what they expected from launching social media campaign. Most organizations launch social media campaigns due to peer pressure. The reason why they fail to succeed is simply because they don’t understand what they want from the campaign. Meghan Casserly, Forbes Staff has written an article Why Small Businesses Are Losing On Social Media to explain what are some businesses missing while investing time and resources in social media. Social guru Ted Rubin said “First of all, small business owners are being sold on the strategy of social by ‘experts’ who are trying to get them to pay to set up accounts, But more importantly, their expectations are being set up in the wrong way.”

I would emphasize that social media is becoming an integral element in every business setting, but it is important to understand that there are a few myths surrounding business and social media. Forbes.com has shortlisted 10 myths that surrounds the use of social media platforms in businesses.

Myth 1: Everybody is on social media.

Myth 2: Social news aggregators–like Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit–are dead.

Myth 3: You can’t do it all in-house.

Myth 4: You have to spend hours a day on Twitter.

Myth 5: Social media is solely a broadcast channel.

Myth 6: Social media can replace your website.

Myth 7: You can’t measure your return on investment in social media.

Myth 8: Blogging is a waste of time.

Myth 9: You have to be on every social network.

Myth 10: Social media will replace real-life networking.

To conclude, I would say that social media comes with a lot of responsibility. It is essential that an organization knows why they are using social media to make the best out of it. Social media is very effective tool if you identify the target public and use the right platform to communicate with them. Social media is not only a medium to send out messages, but also a platform to hear from your audience. Keeping them occupied with interesting content will be beneficial to an organization but it is essential to know why you are using social media.

Why Social Media?

Social Media Map

In the previous blog, we were able to understand that social media users are copious. Having said that, it is important to point out to that fact that organizations need to connect with audience via social media platforms to establish themselves.

Let us look at the “Pin It to Give It for Breast Cancer – Elizabeth Arden” campaign. This social media campaign was launched on Pinterest to help women in the fight against cancer. Pinterest users were asked to keep pinning the image and spread the message. For every image re-pinned from Elizabeth Arden’s ‘Pin It To Give It’ board, the beauty brand would donate one Elizabeth Arden eyeliner to the charity with a total of 10,000 eyeliners. This campaign was a great way to reaching women who use social media and Pinterest in particular. This campaign helped Elizabeth Arden establish their brand image as caring for women. This was an interesting way of connecting with up to 10,000 women while involving them in the campaign.

Pin it to give it

Connecting with public is a very important aspect of handling social media effectively. How Valuable is a Social Media Audience, Really? is an article that explains the importance of having audience on social media sites. Having a huge fan following is not the final step. The purpose of establishing the followers/ fan base is to open up a communication channel that will keep the audient engaged with the organization. However, an organization can keep the audience engaged only by determining the outcome they are trying to achieve. The first step to devising social media strategy is understand the goals.

Let us take a look at Thomas Cook Facebook page. Thomas Cook is an integrated travel and travel related financial services company. They offer a broad spectrum of services that include Foreign Exchange, Corporate Travel, MICE, Leisure Travel, and Travel Insurance. Thomas Cook social media team has kept their Facebook page interactive. They post photos of desirable destinations and ask questions about the destination. This is a good way to keep their audience enticed to their organization webpage. This method compels the user to think of Thomas Cook the next time he is planning a trip. Using social media creatively is the key to being successful.

Thomas Cook FB Page

Being creative is as important as being timely and prompt in responding to social media posts. Simply having social media page is not useful. Neither is being negligent. Using social media platforms comes with a lot of responsibilities. The organization has to stay aware of what they are posting and also about what someone else is posting on their behalf or about them. In spring 2009, Domino’s Pizza found itself in the midst of a crisis when a leaked video of two employees tampering with the food went viral.

The employees, Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, recorded themselves while doing abominable things to the product. Domino’s took immediate action to clean up after the mess but the real challenge was gaining customers trust after the mishap. To overcome this ordeal, Domino’s president, Mr. Patrick Doyle recorded an apology video and posted it on YouTube. The message also included an assurance from Mr. Doyle about how they were dedicated to customer service.

This was a very effective way of utilizing social media to mitigate the crisis. Any person looking for the employee’s video would find the presidents video and would get the message.

These are only two example to demonstrate how social media can be utilized effectively during crisis and at other times also. Another example of how a company utilized social media platform during a predicament to their advantage and thus connect with a multitude of audience is “Oreo’s Snappy Super Bowl Blackout Ad.” During the SuperBowl blackout, Oreo took advantage of the blackout situation to convert it into an opportunity by tweeting an ad real-time using the caption “Power out? No problem” reminding Oreo eaters that “you can still dunk in the dark.” The timeliness and pithiness made this ad extremely popular and was tweeted over 14,000 times. The same ad was also posed on Oreo’s Facebook page which generated more than 20,000 “Likes.” Oreo superbowl ad

To just emphasize further on how social media using YouTube can be beneficial, I would like you to take a look at the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video. This video was Doves latest campaign, launched to connect with millions of women and tell them that they are more beautiful than they think. Since its release, The Dove ad has had more than seven million views on YouTube. This is a very effective way of not only getting you brand name conveyed, but also establishing a relation with you audience with positive and strong messaging.

These case examples show how an organization can use social media to not only connect with their publics but also to manage their image and reputation. This is an era of social media, but what is its future? We shall discuss the future of social media in my next blog.

Social Media: Introduction

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Social Media: Introduction

Social media, as referred to by some is known as social networking sites by others. These days, the term social media is tossed around very frequently. Social media is a two-way communication channel which enables the users to respond as well. Social media sites are not simply sources of information, but these are websites where the user can interact with other users and with different organizations.  Communication is essential to every organization and individuals. No organization can function in vacuum. Social media is the platform which can be used by business to communicate and prevent vacuum. In this blog I will emphasize on the importance of social media to any organization. The subsequent blogs will include my opinion about how organizations can use social media effectively.

Social media has changed the environment in which any business operates. Public relations and social media go hand in hand. In addition to traditional media and other media outlets, social media is an essential tool which public relation professionals use to communicate with their public and also hear back from the public. Before the social media era, it was a B2B and B2C setting, but now it has evolved to B2P, with P being people. With the rise in social media platforms, public demands an instant response from any organization.

Before we delve deeper into the importance of social media, we shall understand why it is essential to utilize social media to an organizations benefit. With the advancement in technology, receivers were exposed to the platform known as social media. Social media became the platform where people express themselves. They not only discuss and share information on social media pages, but they also provide feedback, reviews, comments and criticism on these pages. All this has become exceedingly easy with the increase in use of mobile technology. Mobile web has made it possible for users to provide instant response on social media pages. People post queries on social media pages to ask for other people’s opinions before shopping. The response they get from others is an important factor that effects decision making. Studies have indicated that Mobile web usage has gone up by 82% in 2012 over 2011 and mobile app usage has grown by 85%. This increase in mobile web and social media tells us something. It indicates that social media is the next web simply because people spend a vast majority of their time on social media sites. As mentioned earlier, it is important to understand that people are no longer passive receivers. The people known as audience are active social media user who have an effect on the organization’s reputation and business.

A recent article posted on PR Daily indicates that social media users can be profiled into 12 categories based on their social media usage. The article categorized people into groups ranging from “ultras” to “virgins.” Image

Through this point, I am only trying to emphasize on the point that social media users are ardent and abundant. They are so abundant that researchers have been able to profile them. Utilizing social media platform to convey the right message to all the users can be very beneficial to any organization.For example, videos like Kony 2012, Harlem Shake and Gangam Style and Gangam Style have over one billion views and are extremely popular viral videos. This rate at which the videos gained popularity explains how fast information travels on social media platforms. This aspect of social media can be utilized by an organization to make or break their brand and business.

Details about how can an organization use social media can be read in my next blog.