Struggling with ‘Social Media’

I’ve got a confession; I don’t like the phrase ‘Social Media.’
That might sound odd coming from someone who works in digital communications and marketing, but I find it too reductive.
The trouble is, it implies some media are ‘social’ while others aren’t.
And I don’t think it’s that simple.
Since the creation of the Internet we’ve seen so many technologies emerge and at such a rapid rate that sometimes it feels like a bewildering blur.
But there’s one thing that’s stayed the same, one theme that’s been consistent throughout.
At each and every step of the way the Internet has become more conversational.

So what does that mean?

Back in 1999 a Turkish guy called Mahir became famous for launching his own website.
The rough English (not that my Turkish is up to much) and exuberant greeting (“I kiss you!!!!!”) certainly helped, but part of his sudden popularity was down to the sheer novelty of someone taking the time to build a website to meet new people.
And he wasn’t just famous in Turkey or Europe, but all over the world.
He even got parodied on David Letterman and was allegedly the inspiration for Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Borat.
Not bad going for a bit of HTML.

Just imagine that happening today though.

Sure, new Internet ‘memes’ pop up all the time, but whether it’s on a social network or a blogging platform we can create a pretty sophisticated web presence for ourselves and start connecting with people in seconds.
And if you believe the stats about online participation, most of us do.
The technology might have changed, but the motivation has stayed the same: make connections and form relationships.

So how does this apply to business?

Relationships are the basis of business.
The relationship you build with a potential client enables you to seal the deal.
The relationship you build with your marketplace builds your brand and attracts customers.
And the relationship you maintain with your customers encourages them to come back to you and keep buying.
They might even help you out by telling you how to make the business even better.
If you’re ready and willing to listen.
But a relationship isn’t a one-off transaction.
It takes time to nurture, cultivate and sustain.
And that’s the opportunity online.
You can have more relationships and keep track of the value they are delivering to you and providing to other people.

And that’s why ‘social’ is important.
Not because it’s a new shiny gadget, but because it’s part of the fabric of society and the fabric of the Web.

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