On my first blog post I described my 2005 encounter with social media, the strong role it grew to have during my formative years and my questions for how it would affect business as we know it.
In keeping with that line of thought, I have broken down the lessons I’ve learned throughout the semester into two sections – my lessons as a social media consumer and the lessons for business managers.
Lessons For Consumers
Social Media Is Changing Us at a Personal Level
Google and new social mediums are most certainly not making us stupid – but they are slowly changing the ways in which our brains are wired. Our brains have been proven to evolve and adapt according to predominant standards of behavior. I don’t doubt that the shift to mass consumption of easily accessible data and short-format communications are affecting how our brains process and convey information but this need not be concerning. If the shift makes us more effective and compliant with new ways to learn and communicate, then I see this as part of our natural evolutionary progression. A small price to pay for all of the benefits we can derive from social mediums.
In spite of its dark side, I do believe social media brings us together – more than apart. It allows families and friends (near and far) to share experiences they would have otherwise missed. It allows for the formation of online support communities that would not be as accessible/successful online. It allows those with less developed social skills or special needs the opportunity to better express themselves. It can enable intimacy, human connection and greater support than we could expect to receive offline. Why? Scale – there’s a bite for every taste. Also, due to the guise of anonymity – social mediums can free us to ask, share, feel with a lower risk of judgment and in less daunting situations.
What Role Should I Play?
I’ve learned that it is all about being a responsible consumer of information. The Internet and social mediums give us access to information (albeit somewhat skewed because we are only exposed to those on our social circles). It is up to us to create intimacy rather than distance. It is up to us to rise above social shaming and slacktivism, to afford people the same level of respect we give them offline.
I also learned that you receive as much as you invest. Companies with strong customer support teams can answer your questions, connect with you and be very helpful – you just need to ask. It sounds simple but when you reach out to a brand you are loyal to and they listen to you and help you with any requests or concerns, the exchange can be pretty powerful. So don’t hesitate to reach out – those who don’t ask, don’t get!
Lessons for Business Managers
Social Media Has and Will Continue to Change the Business Landscape
Social media has transformed how we do business and how companies structure their digital marketing strategies – and it is a good thing. The currency for the new business economy is trust and social mediums can allow brands and consumers to connect on a deeper and more meaningful level. Through crowdsourcing, user generated content, social media customer support and personalized messaging, consumers are more connected than ever to their brands and this feeling of power incentivizes loyalty and excitement towards a brand’s initiatives/campaigns. Companies are now truly one click away and collective intelligence and sharing is here to stay.
At the beginning of the class I wondered who would be the next big player and who would win in this “winner take most” landscape. I am still not sure who will be the next big player but I have a clearer idea of the type of service that will become more and more important – live streaming. I think a platform like Periscope could be a winner, but what makes Periscope special is its partnership with Twitter and the ability to see the world real time through someone else’s eyes. Facebook could certainly do this so at the end, the winner will be a relatively early mover (even if not the first) who can build the strongest network effects and deliver a level of value plus switching costs so high that it will force others out. In terms of players, I think Facebook will continue to be the 600-pound gorilla of social media. Their execution is flawless, they have gotten much better at soliciting and taking user feedback into account, their scale is massive and even if younger millennial are shifting to Snapchat and social messaging apps, I highly doubt Facebook would seize being a central platform – even to them.
Another key lesson is that strategy, not tech, drives innovation. It is about what tech enables us to do and the winners will have the strongest, most visionary strategies. They will be the ones thinking about the next 7 years, not the next 2. The ones that can see beyond short-term profitability and traditional ways to analyze trends to make assumptions on what the future could truly hold and how they can play a central role.
Finally, I learned that despite security and privacy concerns, data playing a larger role can really help companies streamline their marketing and send consumers relevant offers. It can clear up the clutter and make us more effective marketers – as well as consumers. As scary as it may seem, I do look forward to the day when all offers are personalized and when hyper targeting is the new norm.
#IS6621, thank you for all of your class contributions, insightful presentations and great energy this semester – our Twitter and class discussions were a highlight of the experience and a great source of learning.