The Social Medium is the Message; Part 1

Technology changes. It advances. It alters the playing field. To ignore this fact is to risk the survival of your business. Do you remember a little company called Blockbuster? Remember how they held fast to their traditional model of renting videos? So much for that, eh? There is no doubting the writing was on the wall long before they became obsolete. It was a deliberate choice to stay the course. Straight into the rocks. Interestingly, the company that heralded the demise of Blockbuster was founded by a man annoyed by late fees.

Right now, we are watching a fight between a traditional way of doing business and the new kid on the block. Technology has been changing quickly and no more so than with mobile phones. They have allowed for people to create entirely new business models. But this did not happen so fast that we could not have seen it coming. If an industry is slow to adapt, it is going to suffer. This is what is happening currently between Uber and the Taxi Industry. We will see how it all plays out as laws change and people make their cases. Had the Taxi industry been on their game in the first place, they could have beaten Uber to the punch.

How many newspapers and magazines crumpled when the New Media changed the way we consume information? New models of monetizing the messages were emerging and when publications did not adapt, they were left behind.

Today, let us discuss your social media strategy. If you do not already have one, then perhaps by the end of this article, I will have convinced you to create one.


How many of you, and be honest with me, sneak a peek at your Facebook or your Twitter feed while you are at  work? You know, when you have a moment between meetings or just need a breather. Making sure all your TPS reports have cover sheets takes its toll on you eventually. You might think it is your little secret, but the reality is nearly everyone does it.

Your employees are doing it, too. In fact, 7 in 10 people are using at least one type of platform during work hours. Is there a case for stricter guidelines on social media usage? Maybe. But I will leave that for another post.

Now, before you get too worried about it, most employees are using social media for work-related searches. No, really. Check out this research. While a third of employees are actually taking a break from those TPS report covers, the other two-thirds are leveraging social media for the job. That is a powerful tool, if used correctly.

You can bet every person that is looking for a job is posting something about their job search between scouring employment sites. Not only that, people are using social media itself as a job search tool. Networking is the number one way people find their next job, so it is no stretch to see why social networking sites are attracting that traffic, whether or not the site was designed for that purpose.

How much time are people actually spending on social media sites? Actually, it is almost two hours a day. We spend more time online than we do on “ time spent eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming.” Although, I am sure I have friends who spend more time on their hair than they do anything else.

What does all this mean? Quite simply, it points to what is the second largest place for you to communicate with your customers, potential employees, and whomever else you want to hear your message. The only place people are spending more time is watching television.

If people are spending their time using on these platforms, why aren’t you there? You’re not waiting for your competition to beat you to it, are you?

ROI of Social Media

Think about the different tools you use to communicate to your customer and your employee base. I am talking both about current and potential, in either case. How much are you spending on advertising? How much are you spending to post your jobs? Advertising anywhere is going to cost your business money and it is up to you to figure out the best return on your investment. There is probably no getting around that.

The thing about social media, though, is you can post the content for free. Sure, there are lots of ways for you to pay for advertisement through the social media sites and there is definitely benefit to that too. Now, this does not mean you can start posting just anything on your Facebook all willy-nilly. A lightsaber Jedi cat may cost nothing for you to post, but you are not likely to see any increased sales for it. Unless, of course, you are a video effects company and it is your video. In which, case, keep ‘em coming.

Measuring your social media return on investment is as important as measuring any other investment. Even if the eventual post has no charge attached to, good content takes time and people power to create. Borrowing from one company that knows a thing or two about this, you can determine part of your ROI like this Profit/(people hours, budget) x 100 = ROI.

It is also important to measure the not-so-quantifiable costs. Recently, we watched Pepsi spend a small fortune to make their social-statement-ad, only to scrap the entire thing. Their intentions were probably good, but their execution ended up costing them more than the return. Sure, Pepsi can easily absorb that loss, but can your business afford to misstep like that?

I spend only a little time creating my own content. This blog, funny pictures with my logo on it, as well as various creative media. And it works. It drives people to my site, which in turn, converts into sales. The more eyeballs on my site, the more conversions to sales I have. This is not speculation, either. I use the tools at my disposal to measure and track each post I make.

It is a living plan that changes after each post, but is that not the life of any good strategy?

Spreading the Good Word

There are two parts to this. The first is if you make good, engaging content, people are going to share it for you. The upcoming Cars 3 movie trailer is all over my social media pages. Not because I have subscribed to Disney, but because people I know are sharing it. Likewise, how many of you have shared something like a trailer for Star Wars? This kind of sharing is all advertisement for Disney and, for the most part, we are all happy to do it.

The same goes for the content you create. If it is good, people are going to read it. If it is really good, people will share it. That’s the thing about really good content, people will do the legwork for you. They will become heralds of good news for your business.

There is more than one way to create content. There are dedicated teams as part of your advertising budget. But also your employees, if they believe in the brand or can generate revenue from the posts, will use their personal accounts to promote your (their) brand. Ultimately, people want to be loyal to the place they work. I think it is just part of our makeup; we want to belong to something.

And here is the second part. For this example, we can use the airline industries to highlight this point nicely. Unless you have been sequestered somewhere far from civilization, I am sure you have witnessed the United Airlines debacles. The outrage has been widespread and has cost the company around a billion dollars. Not only that, it has inspired other airlines to completely change policy. Southwest will stop overbooking flights as of June.

Content will be created on your behalf. While this can seem a little bit terrifying, there is no point worrying about it. What people post is in only within your control by your actions. United gives us a whole bunch of examples of what not to do, but they are not the only story on the net. When you do it right, people are going to share that too. Here is an example of that, although, I have not been able to verify it.

Regardless, a WestJet employee went out of their way to renew a man’s driver’s license so he could fly to see his dying mother. The employee even went so far as to delay the plane a few minutes. How many times has this story been shared now? How many eyes have seen it? And how will this affect people’s opinions the next time they go to book their next flight? It is a story that has a life of its own.

Are you convinced?

By now, I hope I have been able to at least get you thinking about your social media strategy. If you do not have one, why not? What is holding you back? There is plenty of opportunity to ensure your place on the playing field.

So what do you think? Send me your feedback and tell me how you are using these platforms to your advantage. What are your success stories? What are your less-than-success stories?

Paul Bergsma