Social networking: The missing link?

I grew up somewhere between two eras, part Gen X, part Gen Y. I was introduced to computers at a fairly young age but they weren’t commonplace until my teens. Once they were a part of everyday life, I embraced technology and have enjoyed being a part of several key technology-related projects throughout my college years and into my professional life.

One area where I’m lacking in tech-know-how is social networking and social media. Sure, I peruse Facebook everyday on my Galaxy 3 and I have a LinkedIn profile that I try to update often. I watch YouTube videos and even try tweeting from time-to-time (@lrott99). I feel like I haven’t truly tapped into the power that these sites hold, though. My struggle has mainly been finding the time, but a lot of it has to do with lack of understanding on how these sites can be more than just fun time-wasters.

This is exactly what Qualman talks about in our text. He says that “wasting time on Facebook and social media actually makes you more productive” (p. 4). From a business perspective, I have started to understand this much better over the past year and this class is helping me think about it even further. It goes beyond just posting news links and updates to a corporate Facebook page or Twitter feed to keep your buyers up-to-date. It can be truly proactive. The story in the Molisani article this week about Comcast’s Frank Eliason is a perfect example. This guy took the initiative by reaching out to customers that were complaining about Comcast on Twitter and offered his assistance. Now, that’s customer service!

Unfortunately, I think the company I work for is not anywhere near this sort of level. Not because we lack the knowledge of how to monitor social networking sites, but for the following reasons:

• Our company is still relatively small. Fewer customers means lower probability of negative experiences to be shared on the web.

• A large portion of our customers are not Internet savvy. I would estimate that less than 10% have LinkedIn accounts and only a handful probably use Twitter. A large number of them still don’t even have their own company websites. A few don’t even use email so when I need to contact them, it’s always has to be via telephone which slows down the communication process because I usually just get voicemail.

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Photo source: http://www.visualphotos.com/photo/2×3062668/telephone_covered_in_cobweb_IS758-049.jpg

If my clients are even further behind than I am, how can I make social networking and media work for me? I know it could be a useful tool, but figuring out how is still in the works.

Posted on September 22, 2013, in Social Media, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I think you raise an excellent question about social media. Is it always an effective tool. I would say that social media may not always be the best tool and in the case of your company right now it probably isn’t. Basically, I think that we can look at using social media in the same way that we look at any piece of communication, If we look at the rhetorical situation, we may find that while social media can be a great tool, it is not the only tool and it may not be the most effective tool for communicating with your audience (your clients). That may change in the future, but perhaps the best way to serve your customers is a more traditional way.

    I think that it is a good idea to continue to use social media for your company, but maybe for now it won’t be your primary tool. I think that is okay. I think that we like to be current and in step with the trends, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but flashy new toys can blind us to the core of our task, which is to effectively communicate with our customers. We need to use the best tool for that, even if it is an old rusty one.

  2. I think your analysis about your company’s current state is important, because it is important to understand the best way to serve your customer’s needs. Comcast needed to resort to the social media approach becase they had grown large enough that issues were falling through the cracks. Using Twitter to catch and address complaints worked for them because of their size and broad customer base. That approach doesn’t seem appropriate in your case because you already provide very individualized customer service to your clients.
    Social media tools might not be appropriate at this stage, but they might become more relavant in the future. It may still be important to follow the trends to know your options, even if they aren’t being actively used.

  3. Ah, the beloved voicemail. I feel voicemail is fading out. I find that if someone leaves me a voicemail at work, I’ll listen to it and take action. But, if someone leaves me a voicemail on my personal phone I’ll leave the voicemail for days. Caller ID eliminates the need for me to listen to the voicemail to figure out who called, and text messaging makes it easy for me to write back something that says I got their voicemail but have been busy. I’d love to disconnect my voicemail and not even give the option to leave me one!

    I think it’s good to have a social media presence even though it doesn’t seem like your business could benefit from it right now. When people research companies they look to see if the company has an online presence. You could be losing potential business and not knowing it. Also, in the future, I’d assume the clients will eventually change to be more technical savvy people. Instead of having to start building a social media platform, it will already be available and in use.

    • Yes, I think, over time, my client demographic will evolve into more tech savvy individuals – I just wish it would happen faster! I do have a few that already are, so I think I can focus on social media with them. Like Amy said, I need to focus on the best tool for the specific situation. With the tech savvy, I can use social media. For those who aren’t, I’ll stick with good ol’ fashioned voicemail.

  4. Hi Lori:

    Your post reminds me that we need to think rhetorically about SM and not just glom on to it willy-nilly. In my case, I think using FB for college students is almost outdated, and so I’m trying to get ahead of the curve from a looonng distance behind, if you follow.

    One thing I want to try is using texting to reach out to student users. The person who is advising me on such matters walked me through (literally) a local bar/diner where people in the bar were texting and the texts were showing up on a tv screen for all to see, Now this seemed to me quite a dangerous phenomena because people, especially if their inhibitions are lowered via alcohol, might write highly inappropriate, even abusive, remarks. And, yet, strangely, none of that was going on (at least at 7 p.m., which is the time I was there — early bedtime for me and all that). What were they talking about? Perhaps conversing with each other, commenting on sporting events or things they’d done that day at school.

    Why, I asked my advisor, would the bar/diner owner do this? What’s the motivation? Well, those patrons are plugged into the text account and the owner can advertise daily specials and special events coming up.

    So, immediately, I thought, let’s try using that function for the Writing Center. But, again, my advisor cautioned me to move slowly because if you overdo it and then the users “delect” us, then we’ll lose them for life. So, I’m still trying to figure all of this out.

    So, you and I are probably dealing with opposite audiences (maybe polar opposites?), but we both have to think rhetorically (and your thinking sounds good to me).

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