Social media has changed a lot of things.
For one, it’s overtaken porn as the number one activity online (an incredible accomplishment). As of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. Even older demographics are joining in, with 65% of adults aged 50-64 on social media, and 46% of adults 65+ doing the same.
Social media has made us more connected than ever in a lot of ways, and each new network (from Snapchat to Yammer and everything in between) gives us different methods of communicating. In spite of all of this, there’s one thing social media almost certainly hasn’t changed: the way we communicate.
Sure, social media has given us more channels for communicating. It’s given us many different methods, too, like disappearing messages and emojis and voice-to-text messages to random people. It’s certainly changed the scope of our communications. We can connect and communicate with more people than ever before. But it hasn’t changed what matters in communication–the reasons why we communicate–and it hasn’t taken away the need for us to be human in our communications.
In talking to other people (read: your customers, whether B2B or B2C), the same things still matter. You need to understand your audience’s needs, and find ways to connect with them; you need to empathize. You need to make sure not to sell right up front, because people generally don’t like being sold to. You need to be consistent, because consistency and proximity are what relationships are built off of.
Even though we’ve moved the medium for talking to people from in-person to online, those needs still matter, and if you don’t understand how to communicate, your social media efforts will fail.
One of our founders, Kris Kluver, likes to say that his father has been doing social media for years–only, he hasn’t been doing it online. His version of social media is getting together every week with some friends from church and sharing news, stories, and even pictures.
What you do on Facebook isn’t much different than that. It’s an evolution of communication, but it’s not a rewrite of the way humans work. Social media today may be looked upon in future generations in the same way many of us look at morning coffee groups now–outdated. But I’d venture to guess that even in future generations, it won’t be the nature of communication changing so much as the vehicle we use for that communication.
On social media, then, resist the urge to chase every single shiny object and follow every trend. You shouldn’t be a luddite, but you should focus more on developing a voice and brand and being consistent than you should on being on Snapchat before everyone else gets there. Like the tortoise and the hare, those companies that embrace strong messaging and focus on real, consistent, human interaction will come out on top of those with decentralized efforts, even if they’re on all the latest platforms.