My English teacher owes me $50.
I don’t bet often, but when I do, it’s always on what I feel is a sure thing. I never really liked the rush of chance, so I didn’t hesitate in telling my English teacher that social media was here to stay and if you give it three years, they’ll be teaching it as part of education curriculum.
You can still make an argument about the relevancy of social media in today’s society, but that would be a lot like making an argument for equal rights…you best just move on to some other cause, you’ve all but lost entirely.
From the first thing we check in the morning to the last thing we tweet at night, this stuff in engrained in the daily routine and has transcended the stages from ‘new’ to ‘fad’ to ‘medium’ to ‘way of communication’. Yet, like everything before it, we are now arriving to the HOW stage. Acquaintances have been made, places have been established. But let’s face it, do we really know what we’re doing on here?
That’s a bet I’m not comfortable making quite yet. I could delve into the ‘personal use’ side of things, but there aren’t characters in this infinite-character-limit blog post to the cover the terrible hashtags, emotions on the sleeve posts, subtweeting community that has taken over the internet. Instead, I’d like to focus on the corporate side of things…
It seems that every time a new megaphone comes out, Big Businesses are scared to utilize it. Newspaper, Radio, Television. Websites. Always slow to capitalize, for the most part. Now that we as a society have been engulfed in social media for the better part of a decade, most businesses find themselves testing the online waters like we did in 2005 (or our parents did in 2011). Everyone HAS to have a Facebook page…oh, and a Twitter…Google Plus! wait, nevermind on Google Plus…what about YouTube? Should we get on YouTube?!
The problem with this logic is that it goes against the flow of social media as created by us years ago. It’s great to stretch your business out across so many platforms *so long as you have the content (and staffing) to give each one it’s own special attention. The perfect example of this is businesses that link accounts. It’s great that you’re saving time by posting to one that automatically posts to all others, but as a customer you are trying to attract, why am I following you on all of these if they’re all feeding me the same information?
Another thing, the hashtags. Seriously? This is actually the chance business social media accounts have to surpass us on social innovation. Hashtags are the most neglected thing in social media. People actually believe they HAVE to have them (when most of the time they don’t) and that the concept of ‘The More The Merrier’ is a good thing to go by. Hashtags are like needle-nose pliers; in a situation that REALLY calls for it, they can be handy, but most of the time regular piers will do. Businesses have the power to create a hashtag that is both relevant AND engaging, which could result in a successful campaign, but instead they’ve gone the path the rest of us have blazed: “Check out our new special this weekend #denim #sale #retail #shoptilyoudrop #cantstopmoreshop #weekendz #blessed #it’ssomethingideserve (I included that last one because, for some reason, a large group of people still think apostrophes in hashtags work).
However, probably the most annoying, bad habit businesses have gotten into: Content Quotas. This whole ‘we haven’t posted in two hours, we should post more’ thing has to end. Businesses still cling to the notion that has worked on every medium prior: “oh, they don’t care? MAKE THEM CARE! Post more!!” What makes social media so different is that it’s the Great Equalizer, their megaphone is just as big as the businesses. In a land where a comment can do as much damage as a post and a single RT could shift mass opinion, businesses no longer have the upper hand. There’s no quicker way to get someone to care less about an event/products/anything than to continually try to shove it down their throats on a Facebook newsfeed.
In case you haven’t checked into the education scene these last few years, social media IS being taught in classes all across the country. It’d be nice to see every CEO/President/Marketing Director/Intern fill some seats in these. Of which the curriculum should at the very least include:
- Choose the social media platforms that best suit your business AND the audience you are going for. ‘Too many’ IS a term to pay attention to. Also, however many accounts you choose to create, treat each of them seperately and rarely ever post the same content.
- Keep the Hashtags to a bare minimum. Let me stress BARE minimum…BARE…or just none. Challenge yourself not to use them. Reward yourself with a Dunkin Donut or something if you don’t use them. You earned it…
- Kill ‘Content Quotas’ and create every post with the highest of quality. Never underestimate the power of follower-generated content and sometimes let that guide what you do.
- Be original. Be transparent. Be YOU.
I can’t confirm or deny whether or not that bet was mutually agreed upon, BUT…teacher who for the sake of this bet shall remain anonymous (yet you know who you are) I’ll expect a check in the mail soon.