Social media – just another fad?

You may not have spotted that this week is International Social Media Week and across the globe events are being organised to explore and dissect every aspect of social media. While this event may well have escaped your attention it is hard to ignore how tools such as Twitter and Facebook have become integrated in to almost every aspect of society.

Radio 4’s Today programme tweets updates; Marks and Spencer want me to befriend them on Facebook; my colleagues all network via LinkedIn; even my local library send me Facebook messages. Like it or loath it you can’t deny that social media has changed the way we interact with each other in business as well as leisure.

I must confess to coming late to this brave new world. I was a social media cynic and dipped my toe in the water only when I realised I was in danger of being left behind. But unlike wearing drainpipes when everyone else has moved on to flares this is not a fad to be quickly overtaken by the Next Great Thing.

With customers and employees alike businesses are realising that social media has a real role to play in connecting with a younger generation as well as those of us who appreciate the immediacy, simplicity and autonomy these tools provide. It offers businesses two great advantages:

  • providing people with a voice – the opportunity to join in, comment, share information and opinion. This is the opportunity for people to be heard and for you to listen – there has never been an easier way to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers and employees are thinking.
  • the opportunity to engage – people opt in to these media so inevitably are more receptive to your message and open to building a relationship through two-way communication.

The best advice, whether for personal or business use,  is to start small and use social media selectively – the flexibility allows you to learn as you go along. Don’t jump in and sign up to everything only to find yourself overwhelmed and unable to sustain relationships. Within your business, try piloting a new tool on a particular project or user group; what you learn from this will make a wider roll out much more successful.

If you’d like to learn more about social media and its value in employee communication, read our new briefing on our website.

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