Almost everyone uses some aspect of social media, whether it’s to share or view content, follow celebrities and brands, or — for some people — to do their jobs.
There is an infinite number of examples of social media gone wrong, and I don’t just mean Miley Cyrus’ outbursts on Twitter. A number of brands have tried to be tactical but ended up with backlash due to insensitive or just plain cheesy social media campaigns.
I actually think it is more useful to focus on the positive ways social media has helped businesses day to day, so I’d like to share some good examples that have caught my eye recently.
Meeting new contacts is less awkward. Before a meeting with a new or potential client, it is now standard practice to search on LinkedIn to learn more about that person and the company he or she works for. It can tell you a lot about that person’s professional life and also help you find some common ground. Having no profile is worse than having an out-of-date profile.
It can be a boon for international business. A friend of mine is a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and part of the job is to recruit medical staff and patients to take part in medical trials all over the world.
There was an occasion when attempting to make regular contact with participants from 18 different countries proved a laborious task. The school ascertained that all medical staff in these countries had smartphones and would instantly respond to contacts on social media. So a closed Facebook page was set up to create a relaxed and friendly environment for the school to contact members, as opposed to the corporate feel of e-mail.
The result was success, new friends, instant responses, and a large community. This was achieved despite a small marketing budget; just a smartphone is required to reach out.
Old brands can be cool. One of my favourite brands on Facebook is Marmite. The Unilever-owned brand has found a way to divide England and yet somehow remain a well-known and beloved brand.
Marmite has managed to attract more than 1 million friends and generate 28,000 conversations, and it is easy to see why: Every day Marmite posts images and content close to meal times to put the product front of mind and also to promote new products and new uses for Marmite.
The key take-away here is that social media can make consumers and customers warm to you and find your brand more approachable. Just make sure you adapt your strategy and method of communication for different audiences.