Are you engaged with the right “one”?

August 30, 2011

Social media has been a buzz-topic across all industries for a number of years now. People are discussing its benefits and its handicaps, its global reach, its popularity, how fast it’s growing. Businesses- large and small- are all hopping on the band wagon and developing profiles, pages, handles and groups. Everyone wants to be involved, but before you jump in, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

What many people don’t understand is the bigger picture of social media; take the words apart – and social media is just really a type of media. Dictionary.com describes media as a “means of communication…that reaches or influences people” and social as “pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations.” However, when you pair the words together, Dictionary.com doesn’t give you a definition. Instead, it sends you to a search engine with the first item asking you to “click here” to earn more leads using social media.

This is just the point; social media has not been widely defined and therefore is frequently misunderstood. By combining the definitions of social and media we can conclude that social media is simply a means of communication that reaches or influences people in a way that allows for friendly interaction amongst them.

OK, we’ve completed the first step- we know what it means – now what’s next?

Well, similarly to ordinary media (television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc), social media has many types: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube and the list goes on. Once you start to grasp the differences of these types of social media (and this is a topic for another post), you must decide which ones directly pertain to your business and which you should begin using. Remember, using social media incorrectly can sometimes be more harmful to your brand than if not used at all. There are people who think all businesses should have every type of social media, but again, these people have to start thinking about social media as they do about media.

When you are planning an advertising campaign for a product how do you decide where to run your ads? Let me help with a simplified version: first you analyze the target consumer for the product. Next you decide which type of media they view and at what times and then you make your buy. For example, if your target is 65-75 year old retirees, would you purchase radio spots on the top-40 channel at 2:00 am? I think not. And the same goes for social media.

First, understand your target. Next, find where they are already playing online. Then decide which type of social media will be relevant to your brand and your target. The delivery of content on each type of social media is vastly different. Not all forms of social media work for all brands. And once you choose which type you will use, then it’s up to you to come up with a strategy to constantly, appropriately and correctly engage the online community in that area. But as with regular media, make sure you are spending your time, money and effort to be engaged with the right one.