While I find the emerging media of social media to be a great tool in reaching audiences and sharing, I also find it inhibiting. As a marketer, I believe social media is one of the most powerful tools one can utilize to reach and more importantly engage with target audiences. However, as a consumer, I dislike how much it rules the lives of our society. For a marketer, it is great that a person shares comments/experiences about a company’s product/brand which can amplify marketing efforts. However, as a consumer, I hate that the first thought is to capture and share just about everything one does. This in turn leads to people making their lives to seem better than they really are in order to impress others who are doing the same, or feel validated that their life is just as good as other people’s. On the flip side, it can also cause people to feel depressed about their lives. The amount of importance that is placed on social media frightens me. And while some may not be as affected (I’d like to say myself included) it still doesn’t stop me and many others from feeding into the social media phenomena. I dislike how much power and influence is spread via social media, mainly feeding into society telling us what looks good, what is trendy, what you should buy, how you should feel about this, and keep up with the Jones’s. However, I also think it can be beneficial when the messages are positive.
Facebook began when I was a senior in high school and really took off as the thing to be a part of before my freshman year of college. All throughout college I used Facebook and other social media tools in the negative light that I spoke of earlier. It wasn’t until a couple years after graduating college and seeing how widely popular and used Facebook is by everyone (not just college-aged students with a college email, but also young adults, middle-aged adults, older adults, teenagers, and children) that I really started to be aware of how Facebook is used. As a consumer I dislike social media being an outlet for people to share every detail of their life or airing dirty laundry; on the flip side as a consumer though I do like the ability to stay in touch and communicate with friends and family. As a marketer, I dislike marketing that feeds to being a certain way in society (however, that may be another topic as a lot of marketing intends to sell via showing people how they fit in). And, on the flip side, as a marketer, I love social media as a tool to understand consumers better. Whether it is liked by me or not, people share information and while it may not seem pertinent on a micro level, I can see how relevant and important this type of communication and sharing is on a macro level for marketers. It allows for two-way dialogue rather than being talked at, it allows for consumers to feel part of decision making and important to companies which in turn builds stronger relationships. I enjoy the sense of community that social media gives, as like-minded people can come together about a topic/product/event/etc and people can feel connected to others like them that they would not normally encounter without social media.
One thing distinctive about social media, is that there is a level of control in which you can choose which conversations you participate in as a consumer; and as a marketer you can get in front of any negativity by responding immediately or directing the conversation while also promoting and building awareness. I like that social media helps to hold companies/brands accountable by being more transparent to consumers and forces companies to listen to consumers, shifting the balance of power back to consumers. While I have some negative views about being a participant in social media (mainly how it rules consumers’ lives), I also see the value and positive nature of social media. While I may not have liked to participate in social media and generating content when it comes to promoting a company/brand in the past, I do find reviews and social media content from other consumers helpful when making purchases. And, as a marketer, the information gained about consumers via social media is priceless when creating and pitching a brand/product. Social media has a lot of influence and power, and like anything, can be used in a good or bad manner (which is relative/subjective to each consumer/marketer).