I’ve been talking with a prospect for a few months about the possibility of utilizing social media for his local business. At first, he seemed really interested, but each time I speak with him, he has a different reason for hesitating. Most recently, he made the comment that social media might be ‘going away’ because of Facebook’s IPO and the subsequent decline in its stock price. He said he had also read that major advertisers were pulling ad dollars. As a result, the prospect said he needed more time to think about it.
I agreed that Facebook took some heat, but I explained that Facebook does not equate to ‘all things social media.’ In fact, for their purposes – especially as it relates to advertising – it’s just a small piece of the pie. I reminded him that my recommendations included integrating current direct mail offers with a Facebook campaign as well as establishing a presence on LinkedIn, showcasing expertise on a company blog and adding a video component.
Unfortunately, this story is an example of the many challenges social media professionals face as we attempt to explain the value of social media to a reluctant audience. Some are hesitant to embrace it because they think (or even hope) that it will go way. But, the reality is that social media will evolve and change, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Last week, Twitter announced that several content partners could integrate photos and videos directly into users' Twitter feeds, which would bypass the traditional 144-character post limit. This was surprising, as the character limit is a hallmark characteristic of the medium.
And recently, Pinterest has taken the social media world by storm, despite the fact that several similar social sites existed before it (Instagram, Tumblr).
Even Google+ has had a roller coaster ride. The medium received a lot of hype attracting users with ‘invite-only’ acceptance and making tweaks to its interface to correct the things people disliked about to Facebook. Eventually, Facebook improved its customer service which led to a leveling off of the medium. But, Google doesn’t back down. Hangouts continue to be a popular attraction, the partnership with Android and easy Gmail integration keeps the new users coming, and somehow Google+ continues to attract the male population in a way that Facebook has not. And, of course, Google has the SEO factor which has a primary stake in the online world.
Some use Facebook as a barometer for measuring the climate of the social media industry, and while it’s a big factor, it’s certainly not Mother Nature.
As I said earlier, I predict that social media will continually evolve and change. I also believe that it will be easier to grow along with social media, once you already have an established presence. It’s important to dip our toes in and get a feel for it. Once we test the water, we can dive in.
How do you explain the value of social media?