The Necessity of Social Media That Is Informative
By Merry Richon
When I survey the world of social media, and mine is a glimpse at a vast environment of links, tweets, posts, videos, images and a vernacular exclusive to the Web, there is one thing I often do not see: The use of social media, by companies or their respective executives, to inform; to educate people about an issue with powerful prose and persuasive facts, rather than a few cryptic words and a series of celebratory photos.
It is this disconnect between content that is virtuous because of the integrity of its message, versus material that is vainglorious because of the shallowness of its statements, that is the great conflict happening within social media.
Speculation abounds concerning this phenomenon, companies spend tens of millions of dollars to purchase and analyze data with regard to maximizing social media, while there is little discussion about the purpose (for businesses large and small) of using these tools: To inform and inspire consumers to act; to buy a product or service because of a credible message (messages, plural), which is part of a sustained dialogue with the public; a conversation and an exchange of ideas, where people can share a post or tweet, like a comment or picture, and be a brand’s most valuable source of real-time feedback about everything from the efficacy of a specific item to questions about pricing, safety and availability.
I write these words from experience because I write so many words every day on various forms of social media. As the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, which seeks to alleviate the symptoms of chronic itch, I am the person responsible for telling my story.
I have a duty to write relevant content, not filler, which may explain the current problem companies face involving social media.
Please understand, as I only want to help businesses increase their visibility by improving their messaging, mine is one voice. I am not a marketing guru, but it is mine alone. What I say and how I say it reflects my personality, the goals of my company and the issues that matter to my consumers.
So if what I assert is true, why is social media a contest for affirmation rather than a community of active learning? The answer is simple: Businesses assign this work to the young and intelligent, as opposed to the seasoned and wise.
A junior staffer at an advertising or marketing agency, someone who is an apprentice to a senior copywriter or account executive, is the person charged with “running” social media. It is easier for that individual (the tyranny of billable hours rules this activity) to post a sentence fragment and a link than to compose a long-form piece about, say, the significance of a report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the ease-of-use of a breakthrough app or the opening of a famous, newly renovated hotel.
We have, in other words, a medium without a message. We have staccato bursts of “cyber shouting,” when we need lucid commentary and reportage. We have energy aplenty, but so little direction.
And yes, we have more than enough cheerleading from companies. We have posts about so many “awesome and amazing” events, as well as tweets about a surplus of “outstanding and incredible” people. We have reservoirs of team spirit, and a drought of information.
Companies can, and should, reclaim social media as their connection to consumers. Businesses should vie for our attention, and earn our respect. They can start by giving us content we need, and text we will read. Then, they can become sources worthy of greatness.