Social media: #whatisit?
There are a variety of definitions - some 'techies' define it
as: "a set of technologies which make it possible for two or more
parties to exchange information freely and easily" or "a web of
authentic, real time conversation, thought, opinion and influence,
in a digital space we can't see or touch".
But why do people use social media, and what does this
mean for brands?
The idea behind social media is not new - we just gave
it a name and enabled the norm to manifest itself through
technology. Dating back in history, human beings, whether
introverted or extroverted, have always felt the need to be
validated, affirmed or to present an expression of self - Maslow
proposed it as far back as 1943. Some studies explore the
relationship between social media and the psychological well-being
(cognitive judgments of the self) of the individual. Most find that
an individual's social capital has a positive influence on their
psychological well-being. The opposite is also true. So in
essence, both groups' motivation ends up coming out of the need to
perform identity and to belong to something greater than they
The true beauty of this realm lies in its ability to tell
authentic, real stories that come from market conversations
occurring in their most genuine form. We see a shift in the
consumer that moves them from being just tech-savvy to a total
reliance on this web of conversations. This reliance comes from the
need to constantly satisfy the new consumer's "infolust".
Consumers have this burning desire for relevant
information NOW, to the extent that some debate surrounds the idea
that "social" could be replacing "search". This perpetuates the
idea that information on social media platforms is richer and more
meaningful in terms of relevance to individual markets. What's also
key to note is that information to do with brands and topical
opinion issues that come from a real place adds a level of trust
and approval of those brands.
Let's not be overwhelmed by this social media phenomenon, but
rather embrace it. If marketers can tap into these human truths
behind social media behaviour, they can build brands that truly
reach the hearts of their markets.