Since its inception, social media has been under fire and criticism. For the most part, that is not shocking; new technologies attract skepticism. The television and the phone were not welcomed with open arms by everyone in their nascence. People were wary of how it would impact their lives, their privacy and affect their children.
The same thing happened with the birth of the internet, so social media is not unique in this sense.
This is not to say criticism is not good or warranted. People should always weigh the pros and cons as new technology infiltrates their everyday lives. This keeps us on our toes, for sure.
Facebook Defends Itself
Just recently, Netflix released a documentary-drama The Social Dilemma. Its tag is “The technology that connects us also controls us” and then that last part changes to and “polarizes us” and then “monetizes us” and then “distracts us.”
This movie is described as a documentary-drama, and some of the criticism it received was that it was a bit too sensational. Facebook wrote a 2-page 7-point rebuke of the movie countering points they believe the creators got wrong or points that misrepresented Facebook.
Facebook’s response has confused some critics who suggest that Facebook should have just let the movie buzz fizzle. But many people posted on Facebook and other platforms that they would be deleting their Facebook accounts. And on top of that, for years now, younger social media users have been foregoing a Facebook account altogether and opting for Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok.
There are plenty of videos on Tik Tok, in fact, that poke fun at Facebook by suggesting it is the place for fear and hate-mongering. Many Tik Tokkers pride themselves on creating a supportive and inclusive environment.
So what does all of this mean when it comes to marketing?
The biggest benefit people see when they look at social media’s impact on our lives is that we can stay connected with people.
Pandemic or not, people want to feel connected. The last two generations have moved away from home at greater rates than ever before. When before newly graduated or married folks would live in the town in which they grew up, now it is completely normal, if not expected, for them to live in a totally different state than they grew up in. So how do we all stay connected? Social media.
As a business owner, connecting with your audience is how you can leverage the most positive aspects of social media.
How do Businesses Create Connections?
Just recently, Hootsuite conducted a study regarding this and found that businesses should no longer be using social media as a way to scream from the mountain tops about the benefits of their company and to sell products. Rather, it is now all about the customer and the customer’s experience!
Their study also suggested that social media engagement extends beyond the marketing department and that all employees/departments engage with customers via social media. Building authentic engagement is what people are looking for.
This approach, engagement and connection, is what most people find to be the redeeming characteristic of social media.
Grandstanding, criticizing others (the competition) or only posting and not interacting, are the things that people hate. These are actions associated with bullying, polarization and distraction. The behaviors, among others, criticized in the new Netflix documentary-drama.
While it is unrealistic for a company to avoid social media altogether, they can avoid some of the negative behaviors associated with it.
Engagement, storytelling and connecting are not only great ways to build a brand, but they are always amazing ways to feel good about what you and your company are doing. Focusing on the positive and keeping the focus on the customer feels good and can keep you grounded.
The worst criticism a business person can get is “they don’t remember where they came from or how they got started.”
You built a business to add something to the market you thought people needed. There is no other way to continue to provide that if you are disconnected.