Well, that’s not exactly true. Actually social media simultaneously came of age some time ago…and has yet to come of age! Strange paradox, let me explain.
Social media has been around for some years but the last decade or so has seen it establish itself as one of the most crucial communication platforms for the human race. Earlier this month Facebook passed 1bn members. Businesses now accept that they can’t really avoid being involved in social media if they want to be successful and not because they can ‘get the jump’ on their competitors, but because their customers demand it. The Facebook mission to “make the world a more open place” is coming to pass (and not just on Facebook either) and this can only be a good thing.
Increasingly companies are forced to listen to their customers complaints and deal with them and even the smallest of businesses can now access a global audience for its products and services at little or no cost…and are doing so.
This year has had a number of milestones, G+ has become a force to be reckoned with, Facebook has passed that milestone number of users, Facebook has also floated and completely changed its advertising model. So social media continues to evolve…
But that is where the problems start.
For many businesses having a social presence is a tick in a box, in much the same way that in the late 90’s having a website was a job to be done rather than a dynamic living entity. Now, for many businesses, a social media strategy is more about developing a passive social presence rather than engaging people. Don’t get me wrong, a passive social presence is a crucial starting point…but that’s what it is, A STARTING POINT not an end game.
Social media is about continuing to build and deepen relationships through regular conversations, much like you we do in real life. We chat to people, we get to know them, we get to trust them…then, if we have a need, we’re likely to buy from them (or at least shortlist them).
So, despite the fact that the social networks have become established, huge and complex, people’s use of social media is still lagging far behind and it will never truly come of age until our use of it catches up. The irony is that the bit we struggle most with is the bit that’s easiest!