Social media is always evolving. It feels like there is a new network, connector, or application unveiled everyday with the purpose of connecting people to one another in some new and interesting way.
There are a number of tips that individuals and businesses can utilize to become social media masters. Frequency and tone of posts, regular communication, and finding your voice are some of the tips I have taken to heart throughout this course. Still, there are a few outcomes of social media that still surprise me, and I am curious to see how these trends develop and change over time:
(1) Social media as a societal equalizer. I imagine the creators of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Reddit designed their tools for people to communicate with their peers, or to receive information from businesses. I am not sure that they expected social media to be a tool to connect “regular” people to some of the world’s top CEOs, politicians, athletes, and celebrities and thought leaders in the way that it has. A browse through some of Instagram’s most popular profiles will show a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and the famous – but is also used to humanize celebrities and cultivate their fan base. Ryan Reynolds‘ social media accounts are some of my favourites as they don’t have Kardashian-levels of curation and seem like a genuine reflection of who he may be as a person. Some of these people even engage with their followers on these channels – which would have been impossible without social media.
(2) Social media as an activism tool. While I am not sure if social media marketers anticipated the ubiquity of their products upon creation, I am reasonably confident that all wanted and expected to make money off of their tool. One tool that has been interesting to watch is the use of social media to raise funds for causes (GoFundMe and Kickstarter come to mind, which feature video shorts that are often posted on social media). You can have effective social media campaigns without a fundraising element as well; hashtags including #BlackLivesMatter have been revolutionary in generating awareness and motivating action online in ways that traditional campaigning cannot. Social media itself has also played a role in topical issues facing North Americans; most recently, Facebook Live was used to film an altercation between a black man and a police officer that resulted in the former’s death. This is one trend I am particularly interested in following moving forward as politicians and activists try to discover how to turn followers into voters and dollars for their cause.
(3) Social media accountability for corporations. The use of social media by businesses to sell their products is certainly not new, and is probably the primary reason for corporations to be on social media in the first place. What has been an interesting trend is the use of social media to give corporations personality, and offer a level of responsiveness for customers that would not otherwise be provided. In the last week alone, I have used social media to connect with technical support for MailChimp and Rogers services (Rogers has actually moved to answering customer inquiries on Facebook chat, which is brilliant). A bad hashtag which features your company can break a company, while a thoughtful profile with `responsive customer outreach can alter corporate reputation for the better.