Social Media’s Role: Consumer vs. Marketer

Social Media’s role has grown increasingly important for all types of companies, firms, institutions, and self-branding communities. According to The State of the Media: The Social Media Report, Americans spend 22.5 percent of their online time on social media sites. Compared to games (9.8 percent) and email (7.6 percent), we cannot deny that social media has taken over the large world o’ interwebs. In yesterday’s article, Report Details Rise of Social Media in The New York Times Stuart Elliot points out that this report “makes social media the NO. 1 specific category and the No. 2 category over all, behind ‘other’ ways Americans spend time online, among them perusing adult content, visiting retail web sites and reading about subjects like sports and health.” Ok, so it’s proven that yes, social media sparks interest and woos in many. Companies flock to sites because social media offers great marketing opportunities, and consumers waltz on into these sites for personal and professional needs. But let’s talk about the draw, the gravitational pull behind these statistics. The beauty of social media, in my opinion, is that marketers are consumers, and consumers are marketers. If I worked for HubSpot, let’s say, I might market the content efforts of the marketing team on Twitter, Facebook, and my LinkedIn page. In doing so, I’m automatically attaching both my personal name and face to those posts on my business page and my own personal page. Now, let’s say I’m just me, you know, my job is apply for jobs in this new city I’ve just moved to (Boston!) I’m just twiddling my thumbs on my iPhone while waiting in line at the RMV to get my new license; we all know this can take hours. I hop on Twitter to see what people are up to, and I see HubSpot’s tweet: 5 Obvious Ways to Grow an Email List That You’re Ignoring http://hub.am/oPuBKf. I follow protocol, click on the link, and they’ve got me. (You should click, too—it’s an interesting and easy read!) As a consumer, I click on the link; as a marketer, I think… I should participate on this post; write something interesting for HubSpot to see how super great and awesome I am (shameless self-promotion always comes out superficial…) It’s that easy to be both a marketer and consumer. The market is, in figurative terms, in your backyard, kitchen, boiling pot of pasta—you get the idea. My reaction to this integration is one of societal/cultural concern. Are companies playing too much, wasting time, how do they know that social media is actually helping them? Are people perusing sites, in too much contact, clicking on things instead of making a grocery list? Playing with their children? I’m not one to judge, but here is a list of ideas for both the consumer and the marketer.

I call it “If This is the Future, Be in the Present.”

  1. Multiple Accounts: If you are a marketer, I say keep one account for each social media site. If you have too many, your consumers won’t see the full company picture. Having one account saves time and gives you more to say on one site to a diverse audience. To the consumer, ditto. Professional vs. Personal accounts don’t work. You’re still searchable and in this world, you can’t hide or filter too much. (Except, both Facebook and Google+ do offer options…)
  2. It’s not all Sell-Sell-Sell: If you’re a marketer, you’re more than your product. As social media allows for a full profile view, play that role. You’re part of a company, an industry, and part of the human population. Personally, I am drawn to companies that have a voice—they give me advice about what music to listen to, what events around town might be interesting; they ask for my opinion! A business has the power to be more than a product but rather a resource for others.  If you’re a consumer, join companies’ pages, networks—especially if they prove to be well-rounded.
  3.  Focus your attention on the right site: If you’re a marketer, figure out where your audience is sitting—depending on your industry and target market, your community may naturally gravitate toward Twitter rather than Facebook. Reason with this weight and follow suite accordingly. In this case, put your time on Twitter. If you’re a consumer, don’t feel like you need to be on every site possible in order to share your stories and insights with the world. Choose one or two that you feel most comfortable with.

That’s all for now, folks. Share your wisdom! I look forward to hearing from you.

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