Social Media’s Role in Modern Day CommunicationFebruary 6, 2018 No Comments
Featured article by Sally Mattheson, Independent Technology Author
Social media may have started as a tool to connect with friends and family, but in the 14 years since Facebook launched, it’s become the key communication tool for both individuals and organizations. For businesses, it offers a large-scale, open-access way to connect with existing and potential customers.
Social media provides a way to meet your customers where they’re at in a way that only the most hyper-local neighborhood businesses had access to in the past. You can target segments based on age, sex, location, or interests for a higher-return on investment in communications. You can reach out with entertaining, moving, or informative content to build relationships; you can maintain a low-key ongoing presence to spur brand loyalty and repeat business, or go all out with campaigns to engage with and reach new audiences. You can troubleshoot client problems, and build a community of vocal fans that market your business for you. Social media’s flexibility and reach offers enormous opportunity to businesses.
Here are five different types, sizes, and approaches of business using social media to their advantage in uniquely effective ways:
The beauty industry has embraced social media and taken over Instagram and YouTube in particular. While the use of “influencer marketing” is widespread to showcase products and use individual social media super users’ audience reach to hype products, “abnormal” beauty company Deciem takes a distinctly different approach. They feature hyper-personal, detail-heavy communications from the founder that dig into ingredients and supply chains to craft a transparent, accessible, and utterly distinctive brand image in a crowded space, and focus efforts mainly on Instagram and Facebook.
Traditional publishing has been criticized as being slow to join the internet age. Book box start-ups like Owlcrate are filling the gap and serving bookworm needs online with a savvy social media game and unique, fan-pleasing offerings. They’ve turbo boosted their social media game with a combination of amateur influencers and user-generated content, rewarding fans with short-term or seasonal “representative” spots and encouraging customers to post online “unboxings” of the product on their own channels. Hordes of fans take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to show off and grow their own social media channels while doing Owlcrate’s marketing for them.
The massive marketing budgets of the top food industry brands can be intimidating, but shiny ad campaigns can drop without a ripple in the active and interactive social media space. Burger King is making a splash on Twitter in particular with clever, funny content that’s not afraid to take on current social and political hot topics. This is a use-with-caution approach – one misstep, and your brand can be burned – but the potential rewards of viral hits on social media are tempting. If you’re comfortable with controversy and can hold your own against the Twitter mean kids, you might give this a shot. Safer solution? Go with gentle humor and poke fun at yourself first.
The health industry tends to use, necessarily, quieter, more serious campaigns and platforms. When people go looking for help, they want trustworthy, reliable, and accessible sources. Online journal, Oncotarget, models a consistent, omnipresent social media presence with active accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook. It presents resources and medical and scientific information for an audience that appreciates doing its own research. Health companies should focus on niches within any social media channel as appropriate to their brand, such as family health, elder care, or specialist topics, and adjust the tone of communications to each niche audience. A more friendly, accessible style might be appropriate for a health company specializing in family medicine, for instance.
Communications-oriented companies tend to be leaders on social media, with well-developed platforms and rock-solid branding. They will help you to master a consistent, engaging brand presence that still adapts to each platform.
Social media offers entertainment, information, connection, and resourcing to its users. While ecommerce is taking steps toward greater in-platform integration, most businesses are having more success using social media as a way to reach out to customers and tempt them to online stores or resource centers. As in-platform messaging services and bot-development become more widespread, direct, immediate communications between platform users, including brand-backed accounts, will also grow. Use of legacy communications like email is predicted to decline as this trend continues, much as texting eclipsed phone use, or email took the place of much paper communication.