Why I Love to Hate Social Media

by Katie Creaser on June 18, 2010

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In the past few years, social media has become so important to the public relations and marketing industry.  Rightfully so, it’s an amazing way to spread the word about your company and speak directly to the people that have a need for your products and services.  When I first started working in social media, I guess you could consider me a bit naïve.  I followed all of the self-proclaimed social media “gurus”, attended large social media events and lobbied around the fact that the key to all things social media was being “active” and “engaged”.

But the past few years have hardened me, my friends.  I guess you can say that I’ve developed an official love/hate relationship with social media.  So this post is a bit of a rant mixed with a little bit of love.

Why I Love Social Media:

  • It allows me to be endlessly creative. Social media has allowed me to brainstorm and execute creative ideas for my clients regardless of their company size or budget.  Creativity is the reason why I work in this profession, and social media keeps me on my toes.
  • I build incredible relationships for myself and my clients. I have met so many amazing contacts and resources on various social media platforms.  I love being able to share ideas with other like-minded individuals.  It’s so incredible to be able to brainstorm and have conversations in real-time, with people I may have never met in my offline life.  I’ve also helped my clients to locate their brand ambassadors, by finding and activating a community that they may not have even known existed.
  • I demonstrate (and measure) its value for businesses.  By helping my clients to engage on social media, I’ve been able to demonstrate its power.  We’ve helped clients to manage the reputation of their brand, allowed them to provide enhanced services to their customers, and generate leads that drive sales.  I’ve also created measurement and tracking reports based on web analytics that measure and demonstrate the effect of social media efforts on my clients’ bottom line.
  • It brings products to life. Social media breathes life into a product or service.  It gives businesses a distinct voice and the opportunity to put a face on their brand.
  • It gives everyone a megaphone. No matter how big or small a company is – everyone now has the opportunity to succeed and be heard through social media.  The playing field has officially been leveled and the little guys can now go head to head with the big guys.

Why I Hate Social Media:

  • Too many eggs are in the social media basket. Too many companies are putting 100% of their marketing efforts into social media.  What happens when Twitter pulls the plug? (and they might, we don’t pay – so they don’t owe us anything).  All of your efforts will be lost.  It’s so critical for companies to remember that traditional public relations and marketing always need a place in your communication strategy.  I also think that as communication professionals, we need to understand both traditional and new media – I see way too many recent college grads pigeon-holing themselves by becoming social media one-trick ponies.
  • Some of us are getting lazy. I worry that some of us are capitalizing on the fact that not everyone understands how social media works.  If your clients don’t understand social media, teach them.  That’s why they are paying you for your services.
  • Too many buzzwords, not enough action.  I’ve decided to create a social media drinking game.  Take a shot every time you hear the words “engagement,” “community,” “social graph,” and “micro-blogging.”  Yes, these are all important terms and it’s important to understand what they mean.  But the bottom line is that social media is about taking action.  Let’s cut out the buzzwords and create an actionable plan: find the right platform, find your audience, talk to them and talk with them, and then measure your results.  Optimize, measure and repeat.
  • Let’s face it – we’re not all “gurus.” Social media is still young, and what I really love about it is the fact that the landscape is constantly evolving.  I don’t think any of us are really “gurus,” (although I do believe that there are people out there that truly rock at it).  Rather than gurus, let’s start calling ourselves social media advocates.  As social media advocates, we will work to help others to understand the value of social media.  We will work to learn more, listen harder and turn to each other when we need new ideas.

So, my fellow social media advocates – help me to build this list.  What do you love about social media?  What do you hate?  And if you’d like to brainstorm and learn together leave me a comment or follow me on Twitter @ksafrey.

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Deanna White 06.19.10 at 7:09 am

You’re right about social media being “young”. Do you know how many times I have heard “What’s twitter? I’ve heard of it – but not sure what it is.” I educate clients at every opportunity and encourage them to get their feet wet. Once they do, there is no turning back – they’re hooked, just like me.

Here are a few things I love about social media.

Connections. I have found both suppliers and clients through social media. In my view, anything that builds business relationships where word spreads like wildfire is invaluable.

Sharing. Social media is a great way for me to connect with like-minded individuals that share my passions and area of expertise. I have a network of professionals feeding me information that they think is valuable to me. And you know what? It is!

Feedback. I quickly discovered that social media can be extremely efficient for collecting honest and live feedback. It’s the whole transparency aspect of social media and PR that compels me to participate.

Inspiration. Sparks of inspiration can be found on the various social media platforms and I find it helps jump-start new ideas and keeping those creative juices flowing.

I find social media to be absolutely the best online resource I’ve ever encountered for intelligence gathering. (This is the very essence of PR. You either have news or you create it). Everyone has their own reasons to dive into social media. For me, one of the most fascinating thing, from a public relations perspective, is how it has become the “newspaper of record” for so many users.

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