I admit it: When I first heard that companies were using social media to market their organizations or products, I laughed. The first thought that came to mind was a grimy telemarketer pushing a product, except it wouldn’t be over the phone but more annoyingly, via Facebook or Twitter; the two sites for socializing with my friends and definitely not being bothered by those I don’t know. When I put it this way, you probably would have joined me in this social media skepticism.
HOWEVER (and that is an enormously notable “however”), I will fully admit it: I was wrong.
Months later, I now see two huge problems with my initial thought about social media marketing. The first being the purpose of social media marketing and how it is used. Seeing this type of online communication as pushing a product or business in an “in-your-face” manner is not effective, and shouldn’t happen. The organizations who correctly use social media to further recognition or promotion of a product don’t throw it in your face; rather they use it as a form of direct communication with their audience. Through using social media, a business can create a two-way dialogue with its audience, thus “humanizing” the company and giving its audience the feeling that the business is directly concerned with their feedback and thoughts. A blog post by Aedhmar Hynes titled Put Skeptics to Rest: Social Media Impacts the Bottom Line explains the importance of a corporation, or any organization for that matter to engage its audience through direct conversation. Social media gives these organizations an easy, fast opportunity to make this engagement possible.
My second false assumption was that social media sites are solely used for social interaction, posting pictures, or keeping in touch with friends. This assumption runs rampant among college-age students. When Facebook and MySpace originated, the initial use was for social interaction; however, since its inception, social media has come a long way. A blog post by Corrinne Weisgerber, P.h.D, titled, Social Media Success: A Matter of Framing, explains the common misconception that college-age students know the ins and outs of social media. The fact is that social media can be, and is, used for various reasons. Not only can it help organizations reach their target audiences with direct communication, but it can also serve as a fast, reliable outlet for mass communication of important messages. Never before have we had the ease of putting together an event by posting a Facebook event page and gaining 300 confirmed guests within two hours. Goodbye, snail mail, hello, social media.
The possibilities are endless. With the birth of social media marketing, a business now has the ability to completely re-brand its company and better its bottom line with simple 140-character Twitter updates and a Facebook “Fan Page.” The public now has the opportunity to mass communicate with a targeted audience to promote an event or spread breaking news.
It’s revolutionary. And it’s only the beginning…