Social media: A love-hate relationship
How should businesses be engaging with social media and, more importantly, how much?
I have just returned from a presentation at a university where a number of bright young near graduates were presenting to industry and government, advising them on how to engage with social media. Some organisations remain hesitant to jump on the band-wagon fearing public humiliation of the kind meted out to errant football figures. The delicious irony is that it is the students teaching the teachers, parents and organisations. Didn’t it used to be the other way around?
The world has moved on at such a quick pace that the question is no longer should companies and organisations engage with social media, but how best to do it to gain the best traction, reach the right audience, deliver the right message and for some achieve monetary benefit. Managing social media platforms can be enormously labour intensive so careful consideration needs to be given to the cost-benefit; not whether to do it but how best to do it. Businesses, especially those reaching out into the global marketplace, will find it a very simple effective additional communication tool. At Women in Global Business, we recently passed the 2,000 mark for Facebook likes and our YouTube channel has received over 3,000 video views. Not bad for one year. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @wigbweb give the WIGB member community the opportunity to easily and directly interact with each other, not possible through any other medium. When we are all time poor, social media helps us stay connected with just a click.
The downside of our increasing dependence on instant communication is that we will eventually lose the skills associated with old fashioned communication, i.e talking to each other face to face. Yet this skill is not only important in our own culture when it comes to relationships, but critical when doing business or travelling overseas. We should remind ourselves that the majority of the population in growth markets around the world still do not have access to reliable internet connections. Therefore losing the art of patient conversation, investment in building multiple personal one to one relationships, with little obvious results for months at a time, might result in less or no – international business.
My children are so attached to their phones and Facebook that it is the first thing they check in the morning on waking and continue to check it every few minutes during the day! This behaviour is bordering on the addictive and herein lies the rub. We need to practice and keep alive traditional communication methods for those situations when only this will do. We also need to use social media as a tool to achieve our ends, but when the tool becomes the master of our behaviour we may be in trouble.