Thursday, December 13, 2012

Treating Social Media As Media

In recent weeks, it seems social media has come to take up more public attention, being discussed for reasons of communication and privacy concerns, with one such "privacy scare" erupting on Facebook recently. While privacy concerns will always be part of social media, people seem to forget that social media can be seen as just that: a form of media more focused on social interaction than others. As such, while there is a social nature to websites such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, the use of such websites as a method of communication for business is also to be expected.

Social media, much like the Internet entirely, has become more and more recognized as a form of media. As such, it is bound to draw attention from businesses that need marketing and publicity, just as how the Internet became more and more used for business and advertising as it developed. While working on simulated advertising campaigns in my college courses, the use of social media proved vital to success numerous times, demonstrating an understanding of its effectiveness in marketing. Everything from setting up Facebook Fan Pages for announcing new products to setting up Twitter accounts and responding individually to customer messages has been tried by businesses attempting to apply social media to marketing campaigns. So the current concern I've heard from friends regarding the "intrusion" on social media by businesses comes as a surprise to me.

But this raises an issue: assuming one can treat social media as a form of media, just how successful is it, and how effective is the measurement of that success? A number of writers at Ad Age have brought the effectiveness of social media metrics into question, and recent news on Facebook Brand Engagement has shown that the metrics used are not entirely effective, as a slight change can drastically change the measured numbers the brand engages through Facebook. Suggesting the use of social media to connect a business to consumers and create better marketing and engagement is a good idea but it has to be done effectively, and requires more than the lazy answer of just throwing up a Facebook page or Twitter account without following up.

Having social media contribute such an amount to communication and give people such a way to consume time and connect to others, it's become a major element of modern life to many. So ask yourself, the next time you're on Facebook or Twitter, just how much the ability to connect business to consumer really impacts you.

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