Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Reasons I Love Social Media

I was asked a question today about why I love social media. Honestly, there are so many reasons and it’s hard for me to choose only a few. So I did what any other social media savvy individual would do, and posted the question on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Of course, I got the opportunity to pick and choose comments (and it helps that I had written about most of the topics already anyway) but I was able to use social media to explain through social media why I love social media. I think fellow blogger Jenna McWilliams says it perfect when she says, "Social media is not a trend, but a fundamental human urge to communicate," and now we have more ways to do so.

1. 1 800 Customer Care numbers? Consider it a thing of the past. Remember long, long ago when we had to call that 1 800 number and wait on hold for eternity to finally get connected to someone in another country who was so far from executives that we were sure our complaint or problem would never be heard? Social media has changed that. Now companies have to listen to their customers, otherwise, consumers can broadcast their hatred (or love) of the company through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and hundreds of complaint websites, among numerous other sites. It’s no longer a one-way conversation. Some companies have even jumped onto the social media bandwagon (as they should!) and created sites to ask consumers to help create and improve their brand (there are so many, but here are two of the most notable, Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea campaign which prompts consumers to share their ideas directly with the company; and Burger King’s WhopperSacrifice on Facebook, where consumers can trade in 10 of their friends for the love of the Whopper).

2. Networking: It’s not just face-to-face anymore. Look at social media this way – imagine all your customers coming together on a daily basis and talking about topics that pertain to you and your company, thereby spreading even more information about your company and gaining more recognition and consumers. I’m a huge fan of networking and brand advocates and social media gives us several more ways to do it. One of my favorite quotes comes from my mentor and good friend, Griffin Farley of 22squared, “Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach.” (Check out more on how brands are building advocates in social media on my post on Talent Zoo media’s blog Beyond Madison Avenue, The Friendship Model, Brandon Murphy of 22squared Gives the Down and Dirty.)

3. Being connected (this was the most popular answer I received after posting this question online). When something happens to ourselves or someone we know, instead of keeping it to ourselves, we share it with others through pictures, comments, Tweets, etc. It’s a new way to get news, support, or advice on anything! Not to mention, the best way to learn is through others, so what better way to educate yourself on advertising and marketing than following someone in that field’s blog, Tweets, etc. Who knows, it could even get you a job (Tweeter Neal Schafer had it happen for him after he started his blog and web site).

4. Creative campaigns. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – If I had a TiVo, all I would record is commercials. I like advertising, but not because I want to learn about products, but because I like the creative ways utilized to showcase a product to consumers. And now with social media, they’re becoming even more creative. Viral videos, Twitter give-aways, Facebook fan pages, etc. I can’t get enough! Old school + new school = awesome, consumer-activity-inducing campaigns.

5. The best thing about social media? It is changing the way we think and is growing exponentially. Not one social media professional is sure where these new mediums will lead us, but I can tell you, it’s exciting to see this conversation connection evolution!

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