The Importance of Social Media: To Know and Be Known
23, March, 2011 1 Comment
What was once thought of as being an additional channel for teenagers to socialise and communicate is now seen as an important avenue for companies and organisations to be in the know and to be known. Adults and teens alike are not only using social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and forums for socialisation and self-expression purposes, they are using social media to share information on just about everything including how they feel about brands and products they have bought. And such user-generated information is often seen to be more credible than the information found in company websites which are often regarded by netizens to be highly suspicious marketese.
Thus, it is crucial for companies to be in the know of what is being said about them in the various threads of digital conversations. Ignorance is certainly not bliss, and knowing how they are regarded, whether good, bad or ugly, will help them to be in a better position to counter the negative sentiments and play to the positive ones. Who can forget the catchy tune of the viral YouTube hit United Breaks Guitars based on Dave Carroll’s bad experience with UA. Apparently, within four days of its YouTube release, UA stocks fell by 10%. If UA had paid closer attention to Carroll and what he was saying about it online, it would have been in a better position to help the situation.
Many brands also recognize the importance of being known via social media as well. Advertising on Facebook and Twitter is now seen to be the norm than the exception as these are the platforms that most people gather on. However, this also needs some savvy handling or the backlash could be painful, as in the case of Kenneth Cole’s infamous Cairo-protest-related tweet. Of course, closer to home, Singapore’s Health Promotion Board came under some fire for a rude mis-tweet by one of its employees, which no doubt compromised the organisation’s credibility somewhat, despite many netizens expressing their sympathy for the hapless, or rather, careless employee in forum discussions.
However, if well-wielded and harnessed, social media platforms could prove to be a useful means to engage consumers and extend a company or organisation’s brand and influence. For example, the Old Spice ad campaign that went viral in the States last year helped to rejuvenate what was previously regarded by many to be an old brand.
Beyond commercial uses, social media has also been used for humanitarian ones. We know of various non-profit organisations raising their own profile as well as that of their causes via social media. Currently, in the devastating aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we see how social media have been increasingly used to help people connect with their loved ones, as well as how charitable organisations are using social media to raise funds to help the homeless and needy in Japan. And therein lies the beauty and efficacy of social media in helping individuals and organisations to reach out and engage, and to know and be known.