Two things I’ve noticed getting more and more pervasive on the web recently:
Call me crazy, but I feel like these two trends are inextricably linked.
The allegations of a social media-addicted generation conjure images of pathetic, friendless technophiles, huddled alone in basements, ardently refreshing their Facebook news feeds for a glimmer of interaction. Countless articles and studies make it seem like social media addiction is a sweeping epidemic, all but inescapable. One even goes so far as to claim that addiction to Facebook and Twitter is direr an affliction than addiction to cigarettes.
Well, I beg to differ. I’ve proclaimed myself “addicted” to social media at various times in my life and I don’t even have a basement…
More to the point, I think Millennials are dealing with a widespread digital addiction… it’s just been mislabeled.
It’s not an addiction to the social networking platforms themselves that’s becoming so prevalent. It’s an addiction to the immediacy of information. We’ve become accustomed to knowing everything right now. Not only do we need the content at our fingertips…we need to interact with it. We have a thirst for access and a desire for insider info. With more networking capability and increased transparency through the web, we’re becoming more and more fixated on manipulating our sources of information—or at least having the ability to.
This “addiction” isn’t one that’s exclusive to social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and platforms like them definitely allow us to share, promote and manipulate content to a greater extent. That’s why we spend so much time on them. But, our fixation is becoming more deeply rooted than simply scrolling through pictures of friends’ weekend escapades, commenting and “liking” as we see fit.
So many mass-media outlets are exponentially more accessible and transparent on the web than they ever were. All major newspapers have “comment” sections now– allowing anyone and everyone to weigh in and express their opinions. Most multinational corporations have Facebook and Twitter platforms. If we disagree with one of their decisions, we just need to post it on their wall. Chances are, that post will be seen by thousands, and either supported or trashed publicly depending on the viewpoint. We feel powerful on the social web. Like our opinions are seen and responded to…respected. So, when we are denied accessibility, or feel as though a particular company or platform is trying to keep the digital proletariat out, well…
“Hacker” used to be an overwhelmingly negative term. Hackers were the people who promulgated my above characterization of lonely technophiles in basements. They existed to procure information nobody cared about or needed. Obscure website codes and passwords. They were a little dangerous; some inexplicably had the ability to access our emails addresses and sent countless emails from Arabian princes who were looking to rid themselves of piles of cash. Mostly, we saw them as eccentric little geeks with nothing better to do.
Has that changed! Hackers are the mavericks of Generation Y. They have the ability to manipulate information and the platforms through which it’s delivered. They’re the new activists; in the ‘70’s, they would have been the radicals marching up to the White House steps to violently protest the Vietnam War.
Now, they get up in the morning, French Press a cup of coffee, crack their knuckles and make a mockery of Burger King’s Twitter account, jeopardizing a multimillion dollar corporate culture.
Or, they tried to. They changed all the branding on the BK Twitter page to McDonalds’ branded content. They tweeted things like, “We’ve been sold to McDonald’s!”
The reality of the situation? Burger King got 30% more followers from the recent hacking scandal.
What does that tell us?
People crave drama and want to be in the know. Realizing Burger King was a target for hackers made more people want to tune in and, whether we realized it or not, strengthened the BK brand. Probably not the overall goal of a hack job that consisted of changing BK’s Twitter handle and background art to McDonalds’.
Nevertheless, hackers are endeavoring to realize a collective dream (read: obsession) of completely free-flowing information on the web. One commonality throughout most of the coverage of recent hackings is a tone of admiration for the hackers and a scoff at the hacked. In a way, the collective strive for transparency and open channels between consumers and corporations is a positive thing. But, it’s definitely reached the level of a frenzied clamour for more information, faster, on a minute-to-minute basis.
So, where is all this leading?
Inevitably, the culmination of each and every article on our addiction to the social web is a frantic call for a social media “diet.” We’re implored to purge ourselves of our need to interact with a network of connections via an online platform. We’re begged to turn our backs on the instant gratification of the Twitter feed and the Google alert.
I don’t think the answer is to disengage completely.
I think the answer is to be more judicious in the kind of content we willfully ingest. Instead of blindly undergoing osmosis each time we fire up the RSS feed and deifying hackers who manipulate content and platforms, we need to take a measured approach and see hackers for who they are: a subculture of intuitive problem solvers, comfortable outside the law, who have set out to make a statement. We don’t need to respond and react to every piece of content we receive, and we don’t need to assume conspiracy and corporate manipulation just because multinationals are present and active on our social media platforms. It’s exhausting, feeling obligated to weigh in and develop an opinion on every Tweet, blog post and SubReddit. Measure yourself: react to content that has meaning for you.
Or, take a few hours off. I do it all the time. I leave my phone and my laptop behind and I sit in a coffee shop with a book or a newspaper. I know that might seem like a facile suggestion. But when I tell my friends I do this from time to time, they all seem pretty flabbergasted that I could last three or four hours without my phone or laptop. And, I definitely couldn’t every day. I live my life in social media and interactive content—all us Gen-Y’ers do, to a certain extent.
We’ve always had the freedom to to moderate our relationship with mass media. That hasn’t changed. It’s just become more difficult with constant bombardment. Taking a measured approach will require a shift in thinking and a step back– these are things that aren’t always easy to put into practice. Especially with new media and interactive development being the fastest growing industries in North America. We can’t purge ourselves of social media and we can’t ignore a collective fascination with receiving and interacting with content immediately. We can temper ourselves, however. We can appreciate hackers who attempt to make online corporate culture an open forum and we can definitely weigh in on timely news as it’s delivered to us. But, we can decide whether or not to let the immediacy of online content and the ability to interact with it overwhelm our lives.
There’s no denying it…starting a social media campaign from scratch is daunting.
As part of a company, you want to find a way to build your brand and attract new prospects. Social media is a new, increasingly widespread way to create a community around your corporate identity.
But, how do you navigate all those channels? How do you find interesting ways to interact with users on every platform? How can you create enough branded content to draw and hold the interest of a new generation of web-savvy consumers?
How do you find your social media voice?
I’ve spent the past four to five years working in and around content creation for the web and social media. I remember making my first Facebook page, editing my first YouTube video and breaking 100 followers on my Twitter account.
I think what’s resonated most throughout all my social engagement is how exciting it is; knowing your messages are reaching people and realizing users are interacting with the content you share.
This sense of novelty and excitement is the engine behind social media as a tool for successful online marketing.
Howard Schultz, now-CEO of Starbucks, famously credits social media for pulling the coffee giant out of dire straits.
In 2007, Starbucks’ stock dropped 42 percent. It didn’t look good.
He used the web and interactive digital media to drive a complete overhaul of the company’s image and branding. Because of that initiative, Starbucks has raked in over $10 billion in revenue and employs around 150, 000 people.
In an article posted on MyNorthwest.com dated 2010, Schultz is quoted. “(…) Trust isn’t something you build through traditional marketing. You do that through integrating social and digital media. It is a science, as well as an art, to understand how to do this in a way that is authentic and genuine, and not just marketing.”
That, in my opinion, is one of the most ringing endorsements for finding your social media voice in order to run a successful program. Utilizing social networking for your business is cost-effective and wide reaching.
In 2013, Palmer Marketing is committed to increasing our social media footprint, digging down to find a real identity on the social web and becoming an example and a resource for clients, new and old, as they venture into social media as a marketing tool.
Here are some tenets of our newly resolved commitment to social media. They’re centered upon three key platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
1. We are going to drive engagement on Facebook by making it personal.
Not everyone wants a presence on the social web. That’s totally fine. Nothing wrong with wanting to keep your personal life out of the public eye. But, as a Social Media Coordinator, I’ve committed to integrating my social profile into the ones I manage. I’ve reached out to my network via Facebook and garnered more attention for Palmer’s page. The most successful social media platforms are the ones with the most company involvement. When everyone engages, shares, likes and posts, it creates an undeniable buzz. This will be a key element in finding our identity on the social web—making it apparent that real people are driving engagement.
2. We’re going to use LinkedIn to network with other business professionals and share important industry information.
LinkedIn is an endless font of industry news, networking opportunities and sales leads. We will use this platform, in the right measure, to position ourselves as a resource for people and businesses within our network.
3. We are going to engage more via Twitter and we’re going to sound like human beings when we do it.
Twitter has a user-ship of over 500 million. This comprises a wealth of interest groups. Twitter offers tools for targeting people, discovering what they’re talking about and joining the conversations. We’re hoping to see a lot more engagement, attract a larger audience, and build our brand. As with our Facebook engagement, we’re going to humanize our Twitter feed—ensure our voice is well received and we’re approachable.
As we continue to experiment with and grow our presence on social networks over the next few months, I’m really hoping to create our social media voice. I’m excited to engage our existing community on the social web and attract some new members. We want to act as a resource for social networking knowledge; we’re going forward recognizing that it’s a little unnerving to start building a social media campaign from the ground up, but with a voice, some consistency, commitment and lots of interaction, social media is a powerful marketing tool.
I haven’t been writing as much lately, for a number of reasons; sold our condo, doing a major house Reno, got a new pup, recorded a full length CD and busier than crap at work. Anyway, I thought I should send one more out for 2012.
It was a good year for us and the industry too. Caution is still King but not as many complaints around…everyone has made the adjustments needed to cope with what seems to be “the new economy”.
The driver crisis hasn’t brought the industry to a standstill yet and somehow the folks at the helm of the various trucking operations will find their way through it. It’s a tough business but one that I have enjoyed supporting, in my small way, for what seems like a lifetime… 2013 is our 25th year!
There was a record turnout at the recent Toronto Transportation Club dinner and Don Cherry was certainly a factor in the increased attendance. Sports and transportation have always seemed to go hand in hand…a guy thing I guess. Still, more and more ladies are making their mark on the industry and they were well represented at the event.
We added a person in Montreal and it appears to be a tough market to crack for an English company, even though our guy there is French. I’ve spoken with some English carrier customers and they have found it equally difficult. We’re still working on that one. The reverse scenario appears to be true for our Quebec customers breaking ground in Ontario. If anyone has some tips on that one, they would gratefully be received by all.
We added an account manager in Toronto too, which has been a great help. We had continued to run a bit too lean coming out of the recession. We’ve seen many of our carrier customers start to add bodies as well…a good sign I hope.
We’re adding a young gal in the New Year to help with social media. As mentioned when I spoke at the recent Transportation Summit, Canadian transportation has some catching up to do in this area and we are gearing up to help further with this in 2013.
When I looked over our account list for 2012, I saw many loyal customers that have been with us for decades and something new…a high number of good size accounts that came as a result of our web marketing. The web in 2012 was good news for smaller companies. A shift is occurring, with more and more buyers sourcing on the web. Resource to resource, a 1 million dollar company can get as many opportunities from web marketing as a 200 million dollar company… if they are willing and able to create the same amount of content and use proper search engine optimization.
I’m still amazed when people today, running great companies, don’t put much stock in the power of the web to build their business, help with recruiting, or simply make a favourable impression on customers, suppliers and their carrier partner network. More than ever, it’s not “a” or “b” when it comes to choosing the best way to market, it’s “a, b, c, & d”. That will be our core message for the upcoming year. Add to your relationships and referral business, with the new techniques available…add to, not replace!
Best of the holidays to everyone and we’ll see you in the New Year.
Lee’s quote for the day