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What is the point of social media?

We've pulled together some thoughts in response to an article by Ross McGuiness in the Metro titled "And the point of social media is?".

Social media listening

The inevitable backlash towards social media has begun, as people look at Twitter and Facebook and wonder whether they are just wasting their time. According to the article the shine has somewhat been rubbed off the social media jewel we all fantasised about being a part of.

It seems that journalists are wrongly starting to listen to and promote comedians literature who believe (self importantly) that because they have a lot of twitter followers means that they have total understanding of what social media is and how it affects us all - it's like asking Justin Bieber advice on how to run a successful marketing strategy for HMV because he is a popular singer!

Do businesses listen to social media?

Is it fair to say that we are jumping to a conclusion that because the large percentage of chatter is moronic and non-informing that the remainder (the informative, socially reponsible, telling big business what you really think) doesn't get heard?

Well, social media is important because the big businesses and organisations are quite capable of monitoring sentiment and are listening to all social comments that relate to them and their products via powerful monitoring tools like Synthesio. These tools are in no way perfect but they are expensive and they are being used which makes your serious comments even more valuable!

Social media has become a self-perpetuating stone rolling and gathering moss (and I mean a lot of moss!), but as the mindless chatter increases, so the tools will become better at picking out trends and tone and separating out the real issues and comments.

Where are we now with social media?

I like to think of social media as being in its “young teen” stage of development. Imagine that moment when young children first open up a dictionary and look up a rude word or two, we later learn as young adults the usefulness of a dictionary but importantly that child has learnt how to use that dictionary.

This analogy, we think describes us as we are still now in the early years of social media but not really understanding the power of the tool.

When the strength of a unified online social group is realised

What about the power of the people? Are there any real examples of companies being affected by social media chatter?

The recent Starbucks unpaid tax PR catastrophe in the UK was different in the sense that they backed down really quickly.

Was this a result of them measuring sentiment in the UK via their powerful social media listening tools?  Were they worried that this would become a worldwide PR disaster? At a calculated guess I would think so…

With large institutions evading tax (albeit legally) like Starbucks, the general population felt that this was unfair. Social media played its part telling them how unfair they thought that was….

Social media now plays an integral part in our lives and the importance it has will only be fully realised when people understand that all their comments are being monitored and that a lot of them are being compiled into negative/positive piles by businesses and governments which means democratically we are making our voices heard.

A utopian democracy at work!!

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