A few years ago, if you had approached me with any of these current pop-culture phrases: “I’m going to tweet my blog“, “I love to Twitter“, “I’ll put you in MySpace” or “I’m tagging you on the Facebook” … I’d say you were talking dirty to me.
Today, these pass as normal business practice.
Social media adds an intriguing yet enigmatic aspect to marketing a business. Can a website designed to facilitate a sorority girl’s narcissism, for instance, really be used to market a business? One must also ask, are sites such as Facebook as temporary as the aptly titled “cCRRaazZY niGHts w/my best GIRLIES + rANdOMs ♥♥♥” photo albums that line it’s pages? It isn’t difficult to imagine that the life expectancy of such social media could last only as long as the unusually low shame threshold of its young members.
One must only look to the fossilized remains of Friendster to see an illustration of this. Myspace, the high school counterpart to college’s Facebook, has already all but faded into oblivion. A blessing to probably 95% of humanity, those looking for a technicolor-induced seizure or endless pictures of prepubescent tweens, however, must unfortunately now look elsewhere. Save for the burgeoning creepy sunglasses and weirdo trenchcoat industries, it’s hard to imagine a respectful business having anything to do with these websites.
But it would be a mistake, fatal even, to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Make no mistake about it, Social Media is quickly becoming a permanent fixture in the modern marketplace. Can you imagine a marketing executive back in 1957 saying, “Ya know, this whole TV thing is fascinating but this Regis Philbin kid REALLY creeps me out. We can’t be associated with TV”? His denial of the eventual evolution of human communication would ultimately bankrupt him. Marketing must exist where people communicate. In the 21st century, like it or not, that will be at least partly online in social media. Friendster and MySpace merely represent early, ineffective models of social media. They are the Regis Philbins of the world. But who’s to say that social media can’t mature into something greater. TV eventually produced Love Boat right? (OK, bad example) But the point remains, this new form of communication is now only in its infancy.
Facebook, which may have earlier only dwelled in dirty dorm rooms, has successfully reinvented itself time and time again to stay relevant and competitive. To the horror of the narcissistic sorority girl, her parents also now have Facebook accounts. Facebook serves as a good microcosm of the maturation of social media as a whole. These tech-trendy sites are not just for kids anymore.
Twitter, the latest social media outlet, seems to actually have begun exclusively with adults. As a college student, I was completely oblivious to it until I began working at Total PMA about a month ago. I even mentioned to a coworker my first week on the job, “That’s just for old people right?” Of course, he then immediately tweeted what I said to the tweeting delight of his peers (ominously dubbed “followers”). My recent entrance into Twitter also indicates an evolution akin to Facebook, albeit in the opposite direction. LinkedIn clearly shows the professional use of social media as well.
With the next phase of the “information era” undeniably leading us towards globalization, new ways of communicating with one another seem intuitive and inevitable. We can already see this in the ease of communication in the commercial and industrial sectors across international lines. Are we so blind as to think this would not impress the need for better socialization as well?
Where does your business fit into this evolving technology? That’s up to you (see CEO Ed Scanlan’s ‘Why CEO’s Should Twitter‘). Your involvement really is limited only by your imagination and passion for your business. You could simply put a link to your Facebook or Twitter page and hope to draw interest. However, if armed with a passion for what you do, you could also tweet, post, and blog constantly about it. A step further, even create an application such as Total Attorneys did in spawning Divorce Sherpa. The ultimate goal for any level of involvement is to tap into the communication stream and public consciousness. And from what I can tell, that effort is nothing new.
Of course, these current programs (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) are not without substantial and qualified criticism. But that’s the exciting thing. This will only spur further growth and the widening of accessibility and usability. Ultimately, whether Twitter survives doesn’t matter. It will either survive and grow stronger or be replaced by something better (see flutter). Such is the beauty of capitalism.
To those skeptical of what I say, take a second to stop and think about what it is you are reading. A blog is, by definition, social media. And I’m hardly alone in this venture. A good friend of mine in a similar internship across town is also blogging (see http://davidelster.com/) about his experience. Today, this may be an interesting sideshow marketing experiment for a few kids.
But tomorrow when David and I, and the millions like us are no longer interns, not only will those “dirty” words pass as normal business practice… They will become necessary business practice.
The only uncertainty, then, lies in whether or not you’ll be ready.