Digital strangers are people we interact with, people we are inspired by, people we understand (even a little) about their views and their position in a specific network, but know very little about. We can still learn from and with them. We can create and share. We can innovate and solve problems. We can increase awareness and affect change. We can engage, entertain and provide comfort or inspiration.
I was interested when I came across this detail of Generation Z which this particular infographic defines as folks who were born between 1995 and 2009. Keep reading to learn more about one of the youngest generations.
Both teachers and students use it pretty actively, and it can easily be used in the classroom. Do you agree? What do you think is the most ‘all-around’ social media platform for both teachers and students (in and out of class)?
"I think it’s critically important that leaders at all levels begin to recognize the value of connected education, and it is equally important that they provide the leadership necessary to help all educators and students become more connected. "
Schools have a tendency to shy away from actively teaching digital citizenship due to time constraints in the curriculum, concerns about student-teacher interaction online, as well as anxiety over students having ready access to social media...
By Andrew Schiestel, Special to QMI Agency Thursday, May 16, 2013 5:50:51 EDT PM
In 2003, the term ‘social media’ didn’t exist in common language. The practice of it existed, but inside of fragmented terminologies like ‘social networking websites’, ‘instant message (IM) chat’, ‘message boards’, etc.
In 2009, the term ‘social media’ became common lingo amongst businesses and consumers with the influence of Facebook’s meteoric rise in popularity.
By March 15th of this year, Facebook reported that 15 million businesses now have corporate pages within the website.
With most trades such as engineering, medicine, and even print advertising, one’s art or profession, generally, gets easier with time.
The reason is the pace of industry-induced change doesn’t exceed the increase in the practitioner’s skill.
I set out to learn if this was the case with social media marketing or if its art (and science) is inverted.
For this discovery exercise, I spoke to five marketing and business professionals within London and area organizations. Their businesses are diverse in size and industry.
These groups included TD Bank, Windell’s Chocolates, Voices.com, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and Yoga Shack.
In conversations with them, these were the topics that organically came up: Brands are reaching less fans on Facebook Social media’s ROI can be difficult to measure It can be difficult to keep up with new technology Creating high-quality content can be challenging If and how social media levels the playing field
The conversations in general were upbeat and optimistic but alluded to the challenges that businesses face with social media and in the foreseeable future.
Let’s go through each topic point above and hear what our respondents had to say.
Reaching Less Fans
In 2012, Facebook changed its Edge Rank algorithm, decreasing the number of fans a corporation will reach with each Facebook post, organically.
They did this in a suspected bid to boost ad revenues, pre-IPO.
“I would say yes it [social media] is getting more difficult,” Ashley Rose Davidson, the Social Media Manager at Voices.com said in response to my burgeoning question.
Voices.com is no stranger to social media, as they began using it for their marketing back in 2007 and have since amassed more than 200,000 fans.
She went on to explain that while Voices.com still has much success using social media, Facebook has made things more difficult within the last year for brands.
“Edge rank came into play. Facebook changed their algorithm… We saw a dip in our engagement. I saw a dip in our analytics.”
The Director of Marketing & Audience Development at Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Lisa Middleton, shared an equal sentiment with Ashley, “We’ve monitored the results closely. We’ve seen a dramatic drop in overall reach.”
The challenge with social media, unlike most fields, is that you are dependent on websites who can change their interface (your marketing environment), on a whim to meet their own organizational mandates.
This can at times be a disadvantage to a businesses’ success and may compromise what the business has already invested in on that social network.
As Lisa Middleton pointed out, “We have to pay to get to our fans which we paid to build.”
Keeping Up With Technology
Once you feel comfortable keeping up with the tide within a social network like Facebook, you then have to keep up with storms brewing outside the social network. Each day, there are new web platforms, most never taking hold, but all worthy of trapping people’s time and attention.
An ongoing challenge that businesses face is figuring out where to hedge their bets.
Ashley from Voices.com, takes a pragmatic view, “Not every site we sign up for is going to last, or stand the test of time.”
For those overwhelmed by social media, she said, “Be a curious person at heart. Try stuff out. See what works best for your business. Things will always be changing.”
Social Media & Return on Investment
The next challenge with social media is measuring its worth and return on investment. When traditional marketing measurement models are applied to social media, it doesn’t always fair well.
But according to our respondents, it doesn’t mean social media isn’t worth it.
Wendy Arnott, the VP of Social Media & Digital Communication at TD Bank admits that social media can be difficult to measure but says optimistically, “We think social is a little bit different. I don’t think you can measure it in the same way you can measure other advertisement. [We ask], did people engage? Did they share? Did they follow a link? We don’t care about impressions. We care about engagement.”
Wendy and TD Bank seem to be living this philosophy, having started in social media with only a few employees in 2008. Wendy noted that as of November 2012, the department has grown to over 20 staff (most setup at the bank’s London Ontario office) dedicated to customer service through social media.
Creating High-Quality Content
According to a recent survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 54% of small businesses and 58% of large businesses reported they are challenged with producing content that engages its audience.
With social media comes the need to produce high quality content, whether it be through social networking websites, YouTube videos, blog articles, etc.
This wasn’t always the case as content production was usually reserved for companies in publishing-type industries.
May Wendell, the Owner and General Manager at Windell’s Chocolates, a small chocolate retailer based in London, told me she posts on Facebook every day but it comes with its challenges, “[The hardest] thing is trying to come up with the ideas to engage the users.”
She does like the challenge, however, as she emphasized to me that social media is less about spending money on advertising and more about the time you put into it.
“I can put in as much time as [my larger competitor] does and it costs us both the same.”
Lisa Middleton at the Festival stressed importance of high quality content as well. “We’re really thinking about what we post now. There’s more thought about, ‘is this shareable?’”
Social Media Leveling the Playing Field
Wendell’s comments about larger competitors brings us to our last topic point in our discovery:
“Does social media level the playing field for all businesses?”
This one brought up the most mixed reviews amongst the group.
Lisa Shackelton, the President at Yoga Shack, a London Chamber of Commerce award winning small business, is convinced that social media provides an advantage to the small business person. She has experience on the topic after using Facebook to market Yoga Shack since 2007, and she notes that previous to becoming an entrepreneur, she worked for a multinational software corporation.
When describing the difference between a small business and large business, Lisa said, “I’m a decision maker. No bottleneck of approvals.”
Although Shackelton did concede that a large business could dedicate an entire marketing department to social media, she also said, the key for the small business should be to focus on being, “Small but mighty.”
May Wendell at Wendell’s Chocolates echoed Shackelton’s thoughts:
“I think it’s leveled it. It’s more of a personal conversation. When it comes with big brands, I think people gloss over.”
Ashley at Voices.com took the antagonist approach, “I think the larger your brand is, the easier it will be to have your brand found. Like Coke as a brand, everyone knows the brand Coke.”
Ashley’s comments are worth considering. Most businesses aren’t large enough to justify having a person on payroll dedicated to social media management. If this is the case, the owner or a staff member is forced to do the social media role amongst all their other “more important” job duties.
Wendy at TD alluded to social media getting easier for the bank with time. With more than 20 people in its social media department, its resource bandwidth and ability to knowledge share may be more conducive to keep up with the change.
Social media will affect businesses differently from one to the next.
I don’t think it’ll be easy for any business of any size to master social media. When you think you have it handled, the landscape changes again.
On the topic of succeeding, Wendy Arnott at TD Bank offered some simple, sound advice, “Start with something really small and scale.”
Maybe the secret to success in this emerging field isn’t about knowing everything on the topic.
Perhaps, the secret is learning to know just enough, following the path of what you see working, and making incremental changes as the landscape changes.
Now it’s your turn – Do you think social media is getting easier or tougher for businesses?