With all of the ominous think pieces and articles declaring the perceived “evils” of social media, it can sometimes be hard to remember that there are reasons it’s a part of our everyday lives. Whether sharing photos of your new baby for family members across the world, reading informative articles, or trying to find a job, social media has more than proven itself as an irreplaceable and valuable tool in today’s world.
What is your favorite thing about social media? pic.twitter.com/6FaI2WfrsT
— #WinWithSocial (@hootsuite) September 21, 2015
What is it in particular, though, that we love so much about social media? And what does this mean for your business’s social media strategy? To find out, we turned to our Twitter community and asked what their favorite thing about social media is. Three main themes emerged: the global reach, the unparalleled access to information, and, perhaps most importantly, the entertainment factor.
The World Wide Web
— Anthony Roberts, Jr. (@arobjr) September 22, 2015
.@hootsuite Being able to reach, connect and converse with any person in any part of the world.
— Sarah Taqvi (@sarahtaqvi) September 21, 2015
It’s called the “World Wide Web” for a reason, and the global reach of social media was the most widely loved feature among our Twitter responders. With the click of a button, you can broadcast a message or share information to millions of people internationally, something that was just a pipe dream less than 30 years ago. The world is becoming more of a global village every day, and as more people in more countries gain access to the Internet at an unparalleled speed, the rapidly-increasing reach of any social media platform is something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Users around the world have the ability to easily chat about your product or service, reach out directly to your team, and access the information you are sharing—incredible opportunities for brands with a global audience who are looking to spread their message on a global scale. Social media can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection—almost half of the world by the end of 2015—at any time of the day, no matter the geographic location, so the opportunities for getting your message out are endless.
— Zahi Ikhwan (@zikhwan9) September 21, 2015
The ability to connect with people across the world is an obvious asset of social, but in order to be successful with this, marketers must keep their audience in mind. This means that it might be necessary to localize your message and adapt to regional language and cultural practices. A message that is a hit in Australia might fall flat in Mexico, simply due to differences in socio-cultural practices. Consider who you are targeting with your message, and tailor it wherever possible to achieve optimal results.
Getting schooled by social
— Paul Sullivan (@yvr_paul) September 21, 2015
@hootsuite You can easily stay up to date, & very quickly at that. A couple of scrolls down a well set-up newsfeed & boom! info.
— Amy Nash (@amynashhh) September 22, 2015
Another popular response we received had to do with the role of social media in providing information and keeping users up to date on current events, alternative world views, and general knowledge. The amount of information that we encounter through social media over the course of a day is incredible, as is our ability to digest this info.
Where do you get your news? With the majority of news outlets having a comprehensive online presence, more people around the globe are getting their news from social networks. According to The Pew Research Centre, 63 percent of American Twitter and Facebook users get their news primarily from the sites. However, Twitter’s users are more likely to follow news events live, as they happen, a feature that will only see further growth as they are set to introduce “Project Lightning” later this year, which will have Twitter employees with newsroom experience curate Tweets, images, and videos to follow live events as they happen.
Using social media as a source of news, users are not only able to see the original story, but millions of individual reactions. With this, chances are that you are going to be exposed to ideas that either don’t align with your current outlook, or that you hadn’t even considered. While some argue that, because of the ability to choose who you follow, there is a filter bias as to what news and information user are receiving, according to The American Press Institute, 70 percent of millennials who use social media say that their feeds are an even mix of viewpoints similar and different to their own. More interestingly, 73 percent of those who see opposing opinions in their social media feeds will investigate and seek further information on these at least some of the time. This is interesting to consider from a business standpoint, because if you are only targeting audience members who share your company’s views you are potentially missing out on huge opportunities.
@hootsuite sharing and the enormous amount food for thought.
— Maureen Naipal (@maureen_naipal) September 21, 2015
However, as at any given time there are millions of individuals and organizations sharing information via their social media channels, credibility is something to consider. It can be difficult to discern a credible source of information from a not-so-accurate account, but some simple questions to ask yourself about a user before sharing or considering news or information from their account include:
Who are they following?
Who is following them?
Do their posts contain grammatical errors or spelling mistakes?
Who have they connected with through their account?
Does their image or avatar look legitimate? (i.e. Do they look like an egg? Probably not the best source of info)
Are they attempting to sell something?
While it’s never 100 percent guaranteed, these filters are definitely helpful when trying to asses whether you want to repeat what an account is sharing before you risk revealing yourself as not the brightest candle on the birthday cake.
Why so serious?
@hootsuite bloody brilliant memes
— Frederick Mathews (@FCUKTHAAT) September 21, 2015
— RauntandRave (@rauntandrave) September 21, 2015
Finally, and arguably the most important reason people love social media is because it is, quite simply, fun. Sharing and viewing content online with friends and followers is undoubtedly an endless source of free entertainment. Amusing memes, gifs, and hashtags provide opportunities for people to come together and take a break from the mundane aspects of everyday life. Being bored is so rare today because if that feeling starts seeping in, it only takes a second to go on your phone or computer and scroll Twitter for a trending comedic hashtag, watch a video of a cute baby goat on YouTube, or read an article shared by a friend on Facebook.
“Fun” is a powerful tool for social media marketers, as it connects directly to the impact of human emotion. According to a study entitled “What makes online content go viral?” jokes trigger positive psychological and emotional responses, and “humor was employed at near unanimous levels for all viral advertisements. Consequently, this study identified humor as the universal appeal for making content viral.”
With this emotional connection, your brand becomes memorable, as well as builds a sense of community around itself. As Angie Pascale of ClickZ explains, “Laughter is social. Get your Facebook fans or Twitter followers laughing, and you’ll be helping to establish a sense of community and building connections with your brand and amongst your fans and followers.” Inject a little humor into your content and not only will your audience be having fun, but you might feel a little bit lighter yourself.
Now that we’ve covered the things people love, see here for the two things people hate most about brands on social media.