I want to take you on a trip to ponder about the term social media. Most people immediately think of Facebook or Twitter. Instead, I imagine a revolution that is changing the way that content is shared and created. As the term ‘social media’ indicates but is often ignored, media itself is becoming socialised.
Up until very recently we have been engulfed in an age when those at the top, including the news, government and advertisers have been telling everyone else what to think and consume. A counterculture to this top-down approach has risen out of the ashes in which what we read, watch and listen to every day is being shared, edited and created by committee . Wikipedia is a perfect example of an institutionalised socialised media outlet.
This world-wide alliance of budding researchers suggests that in the very near future, a time that some would argue we have already reached, companies will no longer be able to hide their indiscretions behind transparent advertising or promotions and will be forced by the power of the collective conscience of social media users to trade high-quality and ethically sound products. Those companies who are secretive about their production process and instead use social networks as advertising platforms are often those who receive the greatest backlash, even more so than those that admit to mistakes and then do their best to correct them.
Companies are often unconsciously judged by their social value, or a willingness to play a genuine role in society. For Oxfam, this may come in the form of fighting poverty and the empowerment of women. For Coca-Cola, this may come in the less serious but still relatable form of ‘enjoyment’ and an escape from stress. In the end, both must prove themselves as transparent, ethically and environmentally sustainable and important to society. Once this status has been established users will be far more likely to share content posted by the company to their networking and slowly expanding the reach of the organisation.
For those of you about to enter in to the world of social media, ask yourself a few questions first.
What does my company, no matter how small or large, contribute to society?
What can my company contribute to public/industry discussion?
Where are my target audience spending their time online?
It may just be that your company has what it takes to work its way up to be a major player in the social media space. On the other hand, it may also be the case that your product is simply not as societally important as others, but your company’s vision is.
Either way, if you want to join the community you have to get ready to pull your weight or risk getting rolled back down the hill.