I’m sorry if I am so two thousand and late right now but I have finally started to understand social media! I had an epiphany, the penny dropped, the switch went on. And I didn’t even know it was off in the first place! So while I am well aware that this is probably old news, I’m writing this post for anyone else who may still be in the dark.
Of course I started using MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others as soon as they became popular. And of course I told anyone I knew who owned a business or managed a project that they needed to get involved and use the channels to promote their brand.
But then I started receiving hundreds of invitations to join or follow Facebook groups and applications, and Twitter feeds of organizations and products in which I had absolutely no interest. I ignored those and joined a few groups which appealed to me, but the administrators either spammed me with inbox messages and status updates, or allowed the groups to become neglected and boring.
My reformed understanding of social media is that it is a translation of our social behaviour – how we exist and what we do in our offline lives – onto various internet platforms. So if your business is stagnant and not doing anything original or appealing for your target market in real life, then your social media campaign will fail.
Social media is just another way for us, people, consumers, to discuss our lives and interests. So your business needs to do something exciting that will get us talking. Have a Facebook page and Twitter account, sure. But remember that these are only channels, and it’s the material you create for these that will keep them alive.
Social media is not email
We don’t want inbox messages telling us you’re running a special; you could’ve done that just as easily in the days of email. If you’re running a ‘ReTweet and Win’ competition the prize better be awesome and worth all that spam. But, if you can entertain us online, or excite us enough to become involved in a project, then we will happily populate your channels for you. It needs to be a natural conversation: don’t ask us to talk, rather produce something talk-worthy then discuss it with us. It’s called social media, so socialise with us.
This is challenging because engaging with your customers on a social level opens up the possibility to do literally anything. It is also difficult in countries like South Africa where internet access is limited to only around 10 percent of the population. We’re a very active and keen-to-engage 10 percent though, and you should reach out to us. Just ask Steri Stumpie, Perdeberg Winery, or Kulula who are all on the right track.