Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Foursquare, Snapchat, Digg, YouTube, and a host of other sites and technologies have come and, in some cases, gone (anyone remember MySpace?).
Some people dabble in it; for others, it can replace actual interaction. Fortunes have been made and lost, lives enhanced and ruined. It all depends on how it’s used.
We reached out to five people who use social media a lot; some are marketing professionals who get paid to leverage it; others use it for their own business or pleasure. In each case, they share some fun and practical insights.
KEITH SCHMIDT, New Focus Creative, Harbor Springs
Experience/expertise: “Promotion of my business, client consulting, social media course instructor at North Central Michigan College.”
Social media has changed [BLANK] forever because: “Business, because, unlike traditional advertising or marketing, it opens a two-way conversation between businesses and their customers (and prospective customers).”
Next hot app: Vine and Snapchat are both hot trending apps for different reasons. Vine offers short, six-second long, looping video that can be very engaging, memorable, and easily digested. Snapchat is extremely popular with younger demographics. It allows chat and photo/videos to be sent, but images are only available for a limited time and cannot be saved to viewer’s devices.
A business cannot succeed with social media without…: “A plan. The rules of engagement are the same as if the customer was in your store:
1. BE THERE – Don’t put up a Facebook page and check it once a month. Monitor your social media daily.
2. DON’T FAKE IT – Positive likes and fake comments by your friends or fake accounts are painfully obvious. Strive for real interaction.
3. DON’T FIGHT – A customer posts a scathing review of you or your product on your social media wall. Acknowledge it. Pledge to do better. Offer to make it right. Don’t engage in argument. Nothing goes viral on social media like a business yelling at a customer.
4. KEEP IT ABOUT THE BUSINESS – Your business social media page is no place for your family vacation photos or your political or religious beliefs.
My favorite thing about social media is its immediacy and intimacy. If a customer likes your post on your social media page, all of their friends see that like. This lets you indirectly reach people you would never have reached otherwise.
I wish I could change: “The perception of it as a toy or something for the kids. Fortune 500 companies aren’t on social media for the fun of it. It’s serious business.”
ANDREW BOSSARDET, pastor, Glen Lake Community Church
Experience/Expertise: “I have used Facebook off and on since it began on college campuses. I participate in three blogs, and activated a Twitter account almost a year ago. I maintain a basic presence on LinkedIn and Google Plus.”
Social media has changed [BLANK] forever because: “Church ministry because it allows people to stay connected in ways never before imagined, but the nature of those relationship is more superficial. So I am able to communicate with church members rapidly, but it may become harder to actually get people involved. It’s easy to “like” or “share” a post about injustice or suffering.
A business cannot succeed with social media without: “Discipline and intentionality. The data-based nature of social networks means that foolish comments do not simply disappear and become forgotten. One Twitter misstep can ruin a career.
Similarly, social networks demand a degree of intentionality. No longer can someone just fire off random thoughts and expect to be successful (unless they’re already a celebrity). Businesses need to keep their finger on the pulse of culture and step into the stream of current events.”
Favorite social media app: “Facebook. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy the flexibility of Facebook. Groups are varied and accessible, communication is easy and conversations can flow fairly naturally.
I wish I could change: “It seems pretty clear that the easiest emotion to transmit through social media is anger. There is a lot of outrage, a lot of division, and a lot of misinformation passed around social networks. The end result is a less-mature population which perceives itself as connected and making a difference, but rarely actually gets involved and puts outrage to good use.”
Scariest social media story: “Snap- Chat, a service promising secure and “self-destructed” media, was hacked late last year. As a pastor who works a lot with students, I am concerned that they aren’t properly prepared and trained to share appropriately with one another. And I am even more concerned that they aren’t prepared to handle what would happen if their private messages were made public.”
MARCIE WOLF, Wolf Byte Marketing, Petoskey
Experience/Expertise: “I provide social media marketing to small business owners and update social media channels daily. I maintain Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest channels, depending on the client’s industry. I write posts and work with clients and I also teach seminars to local business owners on the basics of social media.”
A business cannot succeed with social media without: “Engagement on the part of its staff. Consumers trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage on social media. A business cannot be successful in social media if they have leaders who have opted out of being social.”
Favorite social media app: “For personal use it’s a tie between Facebook and Pinterest. I love the social elements of Facebook for connecting with friends and I love the graphical pinboard elements of Pinterest.”
I wish I could change: “The
‘uncomfortable’ content that friends share. We are all subject to
people using Facebook to air their dirty laundry or shame people
publicly, which adds stress to our lives. I find myself logging off for
the sake of my mental health!”
Best social media story: “As a volunteer member of the marketing committee for Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, I follow the shelter closely on Facebook. One Friday afternoon, I saw a post with a photo of an adorable adoptable puppy, so I had to share it on my Facebook wall. My friend John saw the post and sent me a message, asking about shelter adoption hours.
The next morning, John and his wife drove down from St. Ignace and adopted a puppy that was meant to be theirs. Their new puppy was born on the same date as their wedding anniversary, and he looked just like John, with the same white beard and mustache.”
ERIN MONIGOLD, Social Vision Marketing
Experience/Expertise: “I began using Facebook in 2004, during its very early years, while I was a marketing student at Michigan State University. I was an early adopter and was naturally drawn to social media. In 2010 I ended up launching my own business to offer social media marketing services to local businesses.”
I use social media [BLANK] hours a day: “15 hours day. Oh boy! I guess I’m a true addict. Social media never sleeps; it’s always a source of news and entertainment. I use social media all day for work and for connecting with friends and family after work.”
Favorite social media app: “Twitter, because I can’t live without it. I love it for its short bits of information and as a news source.”
Next hot app: “It’s so hard to narrow it down to just one app, but I feel apps that are very visual-based will be the most successful. I also think we are in need of a simple app that is not complicated to use and/or manage your privacy.”
Funniest social media story: “I’m not sure, but headlines about Anthony Weiner come to mind. :)”
LISA NEWHOUSE, Cherry City Consulting, Traverse City
Experience/Expertise: “I help businesses create a strong digital marketing strategy and brand awareness online. I use social media to engage and build loyalty with my clients’ current and potential customers. I develop programs, content, and training materials for my clients involving social media.”
Social media has changed [BLANK] forever because: “Privacy forever because we no longer expect to have it.”
A business cannot succeed with social media without: “Creating original content that tells their brand story.”
Favorite social media app: “Instagram. It’s fun to see only images. It seems most social to me: fewer promotions and advertisements than Facebook or Twitter. I also use Pinterest a lot with my clients to develop brand aesthetics for projects.”
Favorite thing about social media: “It gives access to people and information that otherwise wouldn’t exist: Cher’s Twitter account, immediate access to news, and crowd-sourced information, for example.”
I wish I could change: “I wish I could actually shop on Pinterest. I believe this is the direction they will head over the next couple years.”
Funniest social media story: “I’ve seen instances of people trying to perform Google searches in the ‘post’ field on Facebook. Not all Internet searches are great to share with all of your social media connections!”
CHAD BROWN, BROKER/OWNER, Homewaters Recreational Real Estate
Social media has changed [BLANK] forever because: “Real estate forever because very few clients walk into a physical office today. Relationships are built and conversations take place, they’re simply done through social media and brokerage websites.”
Next hot app: “Instagram. Not that it’s brand new, but the simplicity of the app, its visual focus and its ability to distribute content to other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, make it among the fastest growing apps. The addition of video last year will also help to fuel it.”
Favorite social media app: “Hootsuite. It has allowed us to not only manage a tremendous breadth of various social media pages, but provides tremendous tools for allowing access to all of these venues for our agents and staff by setting up teams. Access can be granted and denied at the click of a button in the event of staffing changes. Built-in analytics also allow users to know what type of content is worth publishing and what is not.”
Best social media story: “We have an image we took on the Torch Lake sandbar. We loaded a desk, chair and all the office equipment on a boat and set up a shoot showing that we actually work on the lakes. For years we’ve used this image in print and social media and we continually have users convinced it’s their body of water and they know the exact spot. I don’t think we’ve ever had someone actually guess correctly that it was Torch.”