Does social media work? That’s a common question, and to answer it, I’m going to “the Fab Four” for an analogy. In the same way that social media has transformed the way the world communicates, The Beatles transformed the industry of music. You cannot deny that because of social media communication happens differently than it used to. And likewise, you cannot deny the popularity or impact of The Beatle’s music, even if you weren’t a fan. So let’s look at the parallels, and see what we can learn about how social media works when it works well.
The Beatles had four very dynamic personalities. They were loved and hated, cherished and slandered, but they were noticed. Each different from the other, their character and traits became the source of affection for their fans. John Lennon, the free-spirit, controversial leader was balanced by Paul McCartney, the commercial success, who over the decades of his career, has become a master of both reflecting, and shaping, the musical culture and tone of the times he lives in. (Just listen to how different from each other his songs are from one decade to another if you don’t see this immediately.) And then there was George Harrison, the introvert, the thinker, the collaborator, who was countered by Ringo Starr, the off-beat, quirky, hip comedian of the group. They “worked” because they were different, and because they had talent. Their music sold, not because it was so creative all of the time, but because they consistently worked out of their “types” and produced music that reflected their individual talents. What’s more, their “types” are the types of social media that are working today.
What do I mean by that? If all you want to do with social media is talk about yourself, your products, your services, etc., then you will likely find that it “doesn’t work.” The Beatles, like them or not, addressed quite a variety of topics in their music, but one thing they didn’t seek was to focus their messages on themselves. Some of their lyrics were more than unusual. They were even odd at times. Some of their songs were unexpected. But it was always about the music for them, the interpretation of their surroundings, and of course, what the music could do for them.
Through social media platforms, the types of businesses that are finding it to “work” are the ones that are focusing on being off-beat, or quirky, or thought-provoking, or full of ideas, or reflections of the culture, or running head-on into controversy. Combinations of these are also working. Social media that works also understands that each platform in social media can do something different.
Consider this. In your industry, are there new ideas or new ways to do things that your customers might want to know about? Or, are there cultural ramifications to the changes in your industry? What about communication methods – could social media open new avenues for you? How could you express these things differently, to maximize the unique nature of each of the social media platforms? Which ones would best serve the messages you want to share?
As with most analogies, this isn’t a perfect one, but take to heart the core of this example. You can do social media your way and be successful with it – as long as you are clear what your “way” and your “type” are!