A number of people I’ve talked to recently don’t understand all the fuss around social media. What is it? Why is it growing so fast? Do I/we need to be engaged?
Briefly, here’s my take:
People use social media for three primary reasons:
- To acquire knowledge, which is why content is so critical and key to both your personal and your professional brand. This is also the driver behind the proliferation of blogs.
- To see what other people are doing and buying, which is the basis of sites such as Digg, which is really a recommendation service.
- To connect with other people, which is a basic human need and the foundation of Facebook’s (and other’s) success.
The proliferation and success of social media is driven by three factors:
- Trust: Many surveys have documented that people trust “someone like me” more than any other source. Moms trust Moms and car nuts trust car nuts, it’s how we humans are wired. For the first time our peer’s opinions are more accessible to us than the wisdom of experts and propaganda of sellers.
- Online access: No matter how unusual or obscure the topic, we know we can find a lot of information – details, perspectives, and context – online. At any given time, there are probably thousands of people online discussing the merits of various screw drivers, for example.
- Confidence: It’s all about how we enter the decision-making process. We are less willing to make decisions without a great deal of information. Since the information and recommendations are relatively free, it would be nonsensical for us to do otherwise.
You and your company should be a part of social media for many reasons but here are my top three:
- We all know the power of the network, of networking. It is the best way to gain employment and, as mentioned, the primary way we now learn about products, services and what other people, people just like us, are doing. Social media allows you and your company to expand your network exponentially for little cost.
- Your customers, peers, neighbors, superiors, and relatives (etc.) are already part of social networks so it’s a good idea for you to join the conversation, express yourself and, frankly, monitor what’s being said about you, your company, your products and services, as well as those of your competition. Why would you not want to listen to the most important people in your life, which on a personal level is family and on a professional level is your customers.
- If growing your business, circle of friends and contacts, and expanding your influence are important to you then you need to be part of the social media revolution, because it’s where all the people are.