SOCIAL MEDIA / FEB. 18, 2014
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The Over-Underrated Status of Social Media

Over-underrated? Is that even a word? Well, it is now, and it’s a word that’ll help explain why, in this tech-savvy new world of yours, it can be equal parts solution to, and cause of, many a problem in the corporate arena.

How do I take my company to the next level? How do I build a brand personality from within? What’s the best way to connect with my customers? That’s easy, the answer is social media – no further advice necessary. Unfortunately, this is the sort of response many firms are getting from industry ‘experts’ brought in to make an ambitious company relevant in 2014. What’s lost on a lot of people is just how to go about it. And, in fact, while the how will be discussed in a later article, this one looks at the why. When did this virtual concept become more like a universal answer to any corporate qualm, and less about tweens showing off their poorly filtered pictures to the world?

Truthfully, the influence of social media is enormous. It’s here to stay, and business is being conducted in a myriad of new ways because of it. But, somewhere down the line, it’s also become the lazy answer offered to those too narrow-minded to sift through the real scourges of their business. Perhaps a different approach is necessary. Use the resources to pinpoint customer feedback. Why are customers complaining about your latest model? Are you finding a pattern in terms of poor customer service reviews? Or are people thrilled with your décor changes? It may be time to worry less about getting that Facebook page up and running, and that Twitter handle hash tagging away, and instead be more concerned about what people – everyday people – are saying about your company right now.

Consider your own news feed, for example. Like most of the developed world, you wake up every morning and scroll through pointless status update after pointless status update like some mind-numbing version of the morning paper. Naturally, posts from your closest friends demand the most attention, while publicity announcements or product launches from that deli chain you liked on a whim that one time get about as much notice as the new dog of the guy you haven’t seen since tenth grade.

The point is, companies can – and often do – sit in boardrooms all day thinking up how best to catch the attention of this demanding and largely untapped market called ‘everyone with a computer’, but what gets lost is the fact that it simply isn’t that interesting. In the right place and time, sure, an online personality can be huge in pushing a company’s strongest points, but the majority of the time, the effort just isn’t worth the outcome.

Unless managed incredibly (and almost single-mindedly) well, an online presence via promotion alone can play far less of a role in self-improvement when matched against treating problems that are staring you in the face. Hundreds – or even thousands – of potential customers are doing unpaid, round-the-clock research on your faults and strengths. Now doesn’t that sound like a phenomenal luxury?

Social media is undoubtedly changing the world. But until most firms change what they think of social media, it’ll be nothing but $2 coupons and Instagrammed cupcakes for them. 

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