When I Googled the question “What is Social Media?” I got 1,230,000,000 hits. That’s a ton. I even browsed a few of the first articles that were on page 1 and 2. All of them were drab, basic little articles that essentially all started by asking “What is Social Media?” and then defining it. They would define it by telling you about Twitter and Instagram. Or give an actual definition (for those wondering, here it is: “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.”).
But I don’t want to write a blog post about the actual technicalities of what social media is. I don’t want to give you some boring article about LinkedIn and Facebook and Pinterest. I want to delve a little deeper than that. Because beginners ask “What is social media,” and it’s easy to ask a friend or turn on the news and find out. I want to talk about what social media really is and what it does or doesn’t do.
Question: What is Social Media?
Beyond being platforms for communication and entertainment, social media networks have turned into communities where people congregate online in order to talk to other people like themselves or friends and family. They haven’t searched out social media to be sold to or marketed to, and brands of all sizes have flocked to the sites to do just that; many of which have failed miserably; some of which have done fantastic.
We are beings that want people to pay attention to us. We want what we want and we love it when someone else can understand and even offer us what we desire. Social media is about connecting. It’s about finding people.
What Have You Done to Connect on Social Media?
And I don’t mean “I have 25,000 followers on Twitter!” or “I have 540 friends on Facebook!” I mean what have you honestly done to reach out, recently, to the people out there? Have you chatted? Have you networked? Did you go out afterward for a cup of coffee?
The biggest misconception of social media is that you can get all this website traffic and all these social signals for your site or brand and that people will line up to buy your product or service. People forget to take those relationships, built entirely online, with real people, and build them OFFLINE. WITH REAL PEOPLE.
I’m speaking mainly about small businesses here. If you make a connection online and really value your customers, find ways to reach out to them and meet them. IRL (“in real life” for those of you that weren’t savvy to the tech-speak, there). Hold a special event for your social media fans and followers. Make it a big deal. They will love you for it and you will connect on a deeper level with the people that keep your business running. You might even be able to build up some advocates for your brand to keep shouting to the masses how awesome you are. How great would that be?
Will You Ever Answer My Question? “What IS Social Media?”
If you’ve read up to this point, Congratulations. You’ve already beat out millions of other people whose attention span is less than that of a goldfish. And if you’re still not getting it, maybe you should keep reading, and Google some other articles, while you’re at it. You might be ready for this.
What is Social Media? Work!
Don’t get me wrong. None of this social media “stuff” is easy. But it’s worth it if you do it right. You need a goal in mind and a strategy to hit that goal. You need people that are sold on the strategy and are willing to help you and your brand succeed; both inside your business and out. You can hire any Joe Schmoe off the street to do social media for you, but if you or they don’t have a goal and a strategy, you’re likely to find yourself knee deep in fake followers and meaningless numbers. The same is true if you just pass the buck to the youngest intern (who might also need to Google “What is social media?” because they don’t know what you’re saying) thinking “They’re young enough to understand this social media. Let them do it.” You’ll get what you pay for.
So it’s my turn to ask: What is Social Media?
Knowing your audience, like only you can and only you do, how can you define social media for them ..and for you? What is the platform they love? What do they like to do there? Why do they love your product? If your marketing team isn’t asking these questions and really finding out the real answers (and not something they imagine or theorize about), you’re missing it. Your brand is missing it. Social media is about connecting with that audience and really reaching them. Not just “engaging” them. But interacting with them. Once you really know your audience, you can reach them in ways you see bigger brands do. It’s not impossible. You just need to do it. Start out by finding what their favorite platforms are and why and then finding out why your brand would be great there and what it could mean for you (goal). It’s a glorious first step in the right direction.
If you enjoyed this article and want R3 Social Media to help you connect with your audience or target market, contact us here. We’d be happy to help you figure out how to connect with and build your online community.