I find it interesting that a very high percentage of internet users joined social media by 2008 and that a large portion of those users were generation X’ers, now 35-44 (Kaplan, 2010), also known as….me! I recall joining Facebook in 2007. I was engaged to be married the following year and thought what better time to find a new way to keep in touch with my friends and family that were going to be a part of this special occasion. The next year I was surprised by the number of photos uploaded by those Facebook friends of my special day and I was sold. But what else was this really, other than a place to share photos and associated comments?
Fast forward 8 years later and I can see the power of social media in personal and business communication. But even so, how does one ensure their company strategy will align with what the world sees them as? How do you control your brand when it’s thrown into this bowl of community run opinions that are instant and escalate quickly? While you can’t control the feedback, you can certainly influence it.
Influencing potential consumers is nothing new to Sales and Marketing professionals, but when social media outlets are the platform, there is more to it. We need to focus less on explaining why the product or service is better and more on engaging users in open and active connections (Kaplan, 2010). It’s easy for a company to treat a social media outlet like a news and events posting, where the goal is sharing information of interest, but there needs to be more opportunity for two-way engagement.
When looking at a non-profit organization for example, the specific strategy is simple; engage your audience as people, not as followers (Deanetwork, 2016). As noted in the article, 5 social media marketing lessons from the non-profit industry, you need to understand your audience and the content that interests them. In honour of World MS Day on May 25th, here’s a strong example from the MS Society of Canada’s Facebook page:
“Today is World MS Day, and we’re celebrating YOU: the fighters, the warriors, the people who are living with MS every day and navigating this complex disease the best way you know how. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram @MSSocietyCanada as we post stories throughout the day!
You’ve taught us a lot this month about what independence can mean for people living with MS, and we’re grateful for every story that’s come our way. So today, please let us know: what does independence look like to you?
With an organization like the MS Society of Canada, it’s important to listen to the audience and determine what they see as valuable. The Society funds leading research and offers programs & services that help people live well with the disease. This is a community of 100,000 Canadians (www.mssociety.ca, 2016) living with a disease who seek support from each other and could potentially find value in this online interaction. People have a desire to actively engage and become producers and consumers of information (Kaplan, 2010), so I say let’s give them that opportunity!
Deanetwork.com. (2016, 05 02). Retrieved from http://deanetwork.com/5-social-media-marketing-lessons-from-the-non-profit-industry.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+deanetwork%2FnPGs+%28Deanetwork.com%29.
Kaplan, A. M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.
MS Society of Canada AB NWT Facebook Page. (2016, 05). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/mssocietyABNWT/?fref=nf.
(2016, 05). Retrieved from http://www.mssociety.ca