I was thinking about social media and what a phenomenon it is and how it is now such a big part of our culture. Even though the odds are against it, you may be someone who doesn’t participate in social media and therefore think it doesn’t affect you. Think again! It has a huge impact on communications, work environment, productivity, and marketing. I don’t think any of us realize how big of an impact it has made on our entire way of life.
Here are my thoughts:
- Social media is a huge distraction in the office. Some people are so addicted to it they never put their phone down. They have to see who “liked” their Facebook post, who “hearted” their Instagram post, and who retweeted their latest tweet on Twitter as soon as it happens. This means they may not be paying attention and might miss critical information that affects how they do their job. I don’t have the answer as to how to deal with this, but there’s a statistic out there that shows you what we’re up against – one out of every eight minutes spent online was spent on Facebook. That means a lot of time is wasted.
- Social media polarizes people. I am certain it is a big reason for the divide in our society today. It seems like there are two camps on everything. They are polar opposites. And each is completely condemning the other camp as if they don’t deserve to live because of their position on the POTUS, or gun control, or gay marriage, or global warming, or legalizing marijuana, or whatever. And the silly arguments people get into – no one changes their mind about something because of something someone says on social media! All it does is further the divide.
- What your people put on social media could come back to hurt your firm. Because society is so polarized it means that anything anyone puts out there that isn’t a picture of their kid, cat, or what they ate for dinner, has the potential to alienate someone. I saw a great example of that the other day on Facebook where someone posted a video about houses built from recycled plastic blocks. It set off an argument when another person said we shouldn’t have so many plastic containers in the first place and re-using them like this takes the heat off of manufacturers to do something else. It seems like EVERYTHING could set off an argument. Even a cat pic could do so if the cat was outside. Or a dog pic because it had a shock collar on it. Or a food pic because someone else thought it was unhealthy. And I haven’t even gotten into politics, religion, sports, and child-rearing philosophy. All of these things – even things you couldn’t imagine anyone would ever object to – could cause someone who is a client or potential client to not want to work with someone in your firm.
- If you are ignoring social media as a marketing tool, you’re crazy. There’s still plenty that can be done with it for free. It is immediate. Your communications can go viral. There’s just so many positive aspects of it as a marketing tool. But to use it effectively takes some smarts. You can’t just post pics of endless employee birthday celebrations. There has to be something more substantive than that to communicate your specialized knowledge and unique understanding. Data. Success stories. Failure stories. Interesting project photos. Interviews. Links to blog posts.
Ignoring social media today doesn’t make any sense. You’re too smart for that!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at email@example.com.