Being privy to a number of ‘board’ level discussions, it’s clear that those more experienced members of the business community still view social media as something for kids or ‘fun’ brands like Coca Cola or Virgin. Not ‘real’ businesses who have to contend with ‘real’ world issues.
I do my part to remind them that even though these social networks are the Goliaths they are, they are still ‘tools’ to be used and controlled as opposed to phenomena which we are powerless against. The usual rebuttal highlights cases where social media has gone wrong or just not well enough. In the same breath however these types of organisations will assign the day-to-day management of their social media to a ‘young person’ because they ‘get it’. True, they get social media, but do they get your business? If they don’t that’s when it can go wrong. If they do then you’re onto a winner.
I’m old enough (believe it or not) to remember when there were no social networks to speak of and it was search engines that everyone was afraid and didn’t understand. Now after about 10 years we all ‘get it’ and realise how our businesses can benefit. Today, it’s social networks, tomorrow it will be how your business considers mobile. Now knowing the cyclical nature of technology our default position need not be ‘oh no’ but ‘how can we use this tool to help our business’.
And there are those (believe it or not) who think that the social networks will ‘go away’. That again isn’t going to happen. If it does I’ll eat my iPhone (ahem). In the same way we all know Google will be with us for a lifetime, the same is going to be true of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin. They’ve all learned too much, both from their own existence and that of their failed predecessors. As Google have done, they will diversify, grow through acquisition, find themselves in the dictionary and generally surprise us.
For businesses looking to ‘future proof’ themselves, an important consideration has to be the fact that the next generation will seek to use social media in their business and professional lives more and more. F-Commerce (Facebook Commerce) will become a viable alternative to e-commerce (very soon), Twitter will be the most effective way to digest news and YouTube will make our regularly scheduled TV programming redundant.
So if social media still feels like it doesn’t ‘fit’ within the context of your business, then chances are your trying to use it in the wrong way. The most successful companies across the globe are all very active in social media because they’ve taken the time to work out the best way to leverage this obviously powerful medium for their benefit and not just to tick a ‘we do social media’ box.
Adapt so that you’re “empowered through interactivity” and not forgotten in history.