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It was recently pointed out in Holly’s blog post that social media really is all around us. Brands, bloggers, businesspeople and consumers are jumping on the digital band wagon, eager to see which road it will go down next. Social media has opened up a world of opportunities to engage and communicate with people in new and exciting ways. Media consumption is no longer a one-way form of messaging, but potentially a two-way conversation via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and more.
The thing I find most fascinating about this new platform for engagement, is that it’s free. It doesn’t cost a cent to put a photo on Flickr or a video on YouTube, nor are people limited to how, what, when or why they post content. This means that for anyone with internet access, the online world really is their oyster.
Increasingly, businesses are realising the potential of this phenomenon, and many have been using social media effectively to create new and build on existing relationships with customers and business partners. For example, La Casa restaurant (aka @_LaCasa) recently used Twitter to build a strong following of food fanatics before opening its doors in Sydney. Established brands such as BlackBerry (client) are also using their existing fan base to communicate with customers and assist with their product-related needs. One of their Twitter accounts, @BlackBerryhelp , is an avenue for customers to seek advice and technical support. Meanwhile, their local Facebook pages allow fans to participate in conversations with other fans and also stay updated with the latest BlackBerry news, building a stronger connection between the customers and the brand.
What I’m more curious about though, is how social media can be used in the same way to disconnect from a person or community. As much as social media opens the door to entirely new ways of consuming the news, buying products, and even building professional and personal relationships, I believe it equally has the power to slam the door on countless opportunities if used inappropriately.
Beyond the typical scenario where an employee is fired for being caught partying on Facebook while ‘on sick leave’, or bad-mouthing their boss on Twitter, I’ve surprisingly heard of several real-life family tiffs resulting in aunties “de-friending” nieces on Facebook, dramatic work environments where employers reject LinkedIn invitations, or arguments among friends leaving Twitter DMs and mentions left ignored. Below is an example of what I would call a proper social media rejection.
In the more day-to-day sense, it seems like almost everywhere I look nowadays people are on their phones whether they’re in the company of someone else or not. Instead of participating in actual conversations, people often feel compelled to stay glued to their Twitter stream or continuously check in to Foursquare so they’re not left out of the digital world.
But which is more important – the real or digital world?
All I can say is that I can’t wait to see what turn social media takes next.