Social media has made many advances over the years. I remember when I first started using an old application called ICQ. It was the wave of technology in 1996, being able to talk to people online in real time. Not having to pick up the phone and call someone became very convenient, especially with companies. Sending a quick message on ICQ to others in the office, was that much faster and easier. It was a great way to communicate instantly with others near or far.
Then a few years down the road in 1999, I went to using MSN Messenger. I had no idea what it was until a friend of mine was using it one day on her computer. I have to admit, I liked it a lot better than ICQ even if I hadn’t used often. This is where I became hooked to using social media. I began chatting in online groups. Mostly in my area and I was fortunate to make several friends along the way. I used to host chat parties at a local bar that I worked at several years ago. It was a simple way for people to meet and not be alone when meeting others. Making it a safer environment for all involved, because let’s be honest meeting anyone for the first time can be scary, for many of different reasons.
Time passed and MSN became a thing of the past for me just like ICQ did. Once Facebook came out in 2004, I was beyond excited. To think that I could keep in contact and be a part of other people’s lives on a daily basis was exciting. Reconnecting with people that you may never otherwise see as life gets busy, but you still care how they are doing. Being able to share good and bad times, pictures and memories with others. The idea that you can set privacy settings so that only specific people can contact you or see what is going on with your Facebook page. A brilliant idea as some just want to stay in contact with certain individuals. Social Media has opened a new door for not only friends and family but for companies of any size.
Whether you are as big as McDonald’s, Air Canada, or your local bank, many companies are all using social media to communicate with their customers. Allowing people to post comments or leave feed back on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Giving businesses an opportunity to get a better understanding of what their customers want from them. Before social media became such a convenience to use, people would write letters of complaints to the company, or would pick up the phone and give the customer service representative for the company, a piece of their mind.
I’ve been on the receiving end of some customer complaints. Let me tell you people can be mean when angry. Screaming at you like it’s your fault that the product was not all it said it was. Frustrated at the product but laying the blame on you personally, when in all reality they are mad at the company itself. Now, you just have to send an email, or write a post on the company’s social media site. Using social media has given large companies the chance to interact with their customers one on one and with a quicker turnaround than writing a letter and waiting for a reply. It gives the customer and company a chance to work out their issue together as soon as possible. Having the power to change a bad review to a good one.Brands must be more open, honest and transparent. Drawing more customers to their brand with reviews on not only their product, but also their customer service.
Social Media is opening the doors for small businesses, people that work from home or are self employed, giving them the opportunity to get in on the ban wagon of free advertising. Using social media like Facebook where you can start a group or your own page for free. Having sites like Weebly or GoDaddy making marketing your product easier and with less stress of having to build an entire website from scratch. Making you look professional from the start. But where do you go from there?
As I continue forward with my course at Algonquin College, I am intrigued to learn more about the proper ways to effectively use social media. Being an author is wonderful and I have lots to share with others. However, knowing how to reach readers that would be interested in what I have to say, is an entirely different thing. Social media is the wave of the future and I plan on being a part of it.
Danielle Gallant Simms
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