It’s a reality around the world that social media is not a trend and it’s here to stay. Many top executives of leading brands still struggle to come to terms with this phenomenon called ‘social media’ and that news travels in an instant without any moderation. Social media has really impacted how businesses organize themselves, how they perceive their business roles, and how they communicate with their target audience online.
Many businesses are still trying to figure out the return on investment (ROI) of engaging on the social web, and many believe that the metrics that social media provides simply don’t return any value. What these people overlook is the fact that their target audience is busy leveraging the social web in many ways that can either ensure the success of their business or turn them into a complete failure. Welcome to reality!
Everywhere people are using social media to engage and share news with their friends, family, and colleagues. Thanks to the social web, news travels at the speed of light and many times when a crisis hits, it’s first discovered on social platforms before mainstream media publishes it. This can be a very good thing and shouldn’t be viewed negatively. How can the real-time nature of the social web help you build your digital footprint and strengthen your image in a real-time, always connected world?
I’m certain that in the next few years there will be an even greater call for transparency from brands. Have a look at how Wikileaks publicly showed that there’s no such thing as “private” information and news anymore. With this said, brands must be more accountable for their mistakes and act more authentically. If they don’t do this, it can be a big mistake, because everyone is now armed with a microphone to spread their message making sure that their social circles, friends, and family knows what they are feeling towards the brand.
With everyone being more aware of what is going on in the world, people are starting to look at the brands they support to play a greater role in social change. Many are aware that their governments cannot address all the problems they are currently facing. With this, many people are looking at brands to step up and fill that void. People are also more aware that many top brands have profited handsomely in times of struggle and their intolerance for irresponsible brands is at an all high point. People are not scared to share their positive and negative experiences with a particular brand publicly. Do you know what are people talking about regarding your brand on the social web?
Change with time
Every business that still relies on the old way of thinking and doing business will be left behind. People are connected 24/7 through smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices. If I had a nasty experience in a restaurant and I decide to tell everyone in my social circle about it while I’m sitting there, what does it mean for that restaurant?
Using that example, let’s assume it’s a local restaurant and all my Twitter and Facebook connections are also local. Will my opinion influence their decision if they saw my negative comment when they were doing a search for local restaurants? Will it also change their opinion if they saw that the restaurant replied to my comment and they are aware and fixing the problem?
The digital world has changed tremendously and a new type of business is emerging, one that recognizes all the changes happening and one that understands that you have to wear many hats in today’s digital climate. Past thinking is not going to solve many of the problems that we are facing today. Instead, leaders must be willing to change the way they lead, and businesses must also be willing to change how they are organizing themselves.
Businesses that are listening to the voices of others while they are making meaningful contributions are the ones that will engage with their target audience that will then help them grow. Social media is changing the world for the better and it helps bringing brands closer to the community. Do you want to accept this change or do you want social media to destroy your digital footprint?
Author | Anton Koekemoer
I'm your friendly neighbourhood digital marketing specialist. I specialise in helping brands connect with targeted customers by enhancing their online presence through emerging web-based communication channels. I translate business objectives into comprehensive initiatives that focus on humanising brand identity while maximising measurable business results. More