Everybody’s relationship with social media is different, but it’s no question that it has made its mark on society and the way in which we all operate. It influences how people communicate with each other, how news and information is distributed, and even how business reach targeted audiences. Whether you actively use social media multiple times a day, or you can’t even remember your Facebook password, we’ve all been affected by social media’s influence.

Gone are the days when social media predominantly meant Facebook and YouTube. In the last decade, new social platforms have popped up with every intention of sticking around: Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest – just to name a few. According to a Pew Research Center survey, a majority of Americans still primarily use Facebook and YouTube. However, young adults between the ages of 18 to 24, mainly use Snapchat and Instagram.

With so many social platforms to choose from, it’s no question people spend a good portion of their time scrolling through feeds or double-tapping images they find appealing. In an article written by Entrepreneur at the end of 2017, they stated that the average person will spend more than five years of their life on social media. This equates to around 2 hours spent on social media channels every single day.

There’s no doubt about it, people spend copious amounts of time online, and more specifically, on social media. Browsing, scrolling, liking, sharing, it’s easily become a way of life. Used beyond mere entertainment purposes, social media has become a leading source for current events and news related information. The Entrepreneur article says, “Among millennials, 49% report that Twitter and Facebook have been their go-to sources for news and politics.”

Despite these stats, people continue to have varied relationships with social media. Ranging from love to hate to love-hate, everyone has a different experience with what social media provides them. For some, it plays a role in how they make a living. For others, it’s used for entertainment or as a way to keep in touch with family and friends. I asked several colleagues what social media is to them. Here are a few of those responses:

Social media is radioactive.

Social media is a way to connect with just about anybody you could ever want to.

Social media is contagious.

Social media is a double-edged sword.

Social media is fake news.

Social media is a means to communicate internationally.

And my personal favorite,

Social media is not a megaphone but a walkie-talkie with your customers.

With social media’s ever increasing influence, businesses have the ability to reach customers in a more personal way than ever before. Depending on how a brand chooses to market themselves on social media, this has become both a curse and a blessing.

Communication between customer and business has never been more personable OR more responsive. Social media has forced brands to be transparent, holding them accountable in the ways they treat customers and in the integrity of their product and services.

On the other hand, not all brands effectively use the power of social media to channel in on their customers in a way that is both persuasive and engaging. Theirs is a megaphone-like social feed versus a walkie-talkie feed. Conversation, engagement, interaction, and brand-advocacy should be the priority for every business on social media.

Social Media As A Marketing Tool

Social media is the heart of your business in that it has the unique responsibility to tell your brand’s story. Many companies fail to utilize their presence on social media effectively. By pushing ads and unnecessary content that speaks AT an audience versus conversing WITH them, you run the risk of disengaging potential customers as you chase an ROI number instead of building transparency and trust.

Social media as a marketing tool is best used when you create a community or a hub where like-minded individuals can find understanding in your message and in your story. This includes how a business interacts with customers. Communication done right can build trust and strengthen relationships.

Show your audience you care in the way you interact with them. When you start to see followers or customers as more than just a number that makes your social media accounts look popular, your content distribution becomes more meaningful, focused, and genuine. Your strategy becomes more centered on serving and providing a useful experience versus gaining likes or views and new fans.

What is your relationship with social media? How do you monitor your time spent online? We want to hear your stories!

Rachel Libby
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