Rhetoric of Technology and Social Media – Don’t Miss the Boat!
Posted by Lori R.
Although “rhetoric of technology” is considered a newer term and area of study, it has taken the world by storm via social media and has become a powerful marketing tool (Clark, 2010, p. 89). I would dare say this term is synonymous with Qualman’s (2009) terms of “socialommerce” (p. 89) or “world of mouth marketing” (p. 99).
To support the rhetoric of technology, we read several examples this week on how technology and social media have influenced consumer opinions and decisions. Some companies jumped on the bandwagon:
And some missed the boat:
Ultimately, I think we can group the ways that social media influences consumers into three categories:
1) Recommendations from strangers. For example, let’s say I’m in the market to buy a tablet. I own a Samsung smartphone which I like very much, so I’d like to see what tablets Samsung might offer. Instead of going to Samsung’s corporate website (which is going to be obviously biased), I decide to look for reviews online. Sites like angieslist.com require payment to read reviews, so I go to Facebook and find a fan page for Samsung’s Note. However, it’s a “fan” page, so most of the comments are probably skewed. I need to know if there are any issues with this product so I can weigh the pros and cons. So, then I look for…
2) Corporate social media sites. I go directly to Samsung’s Facebook page to see what regular consumers, not necessarily fans, say about Samsung products. Of course, this could also be edited to only reflect positive comments, so I move on to a more trusted source…
3) Referrals from friends and family. I see that several of my Facebook fans mentioned buying a Samsung Note recently, so I send them a message to see what they think.
These readings have caused me to reflect on the company I work for and our use of social media. Sure, we have a Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter handle, but it doesn’t feel like we’re creating a sense of community. Our Facebook page has only three “likes” and they are all employees of the company. We have not heavily promoted these sites and rarely post to them. It seems that our social media boat is half sunk! How do we drive more traffic to these sites and who do we target?
One of our primary audiences that we market to is physicians. I have the exact worry that Qualman describes at the end of chapter seven: “They don’t want to aggregate their hard-earned customers in a public forum because they’re afraid the competition will come in and pick them off” (p. 184). Qualman insists that if a company is worried about this, then there are bigger problems within the company. I disagree. Our company offers a solid product and even better service (yes, I may be a little biased, but let’s put that aside, shall we?). Despite this, our competition is offering what you would call “it’s too good to be true” sort of product and service, bordering on the edge of illegal (at the least, unethical), but because our type of service is still so NEW, many physicians do not realize this. On top of this, we have actually had competitors cull our website for clients as we used to list them for patients (“Find a Physician”). I don’t believe we actually lost any clients this way, but it makes you more careful as to what you put out on the web. We changed our site so now you have to submit a request to get a list of doctors in your area that provide this specialized therapy.
So, what are our options to keep our social marketing plan afloat? Perhaps the mainstream sites will not work for our customers. However, I think we could create an online community through a secure site that we already use with our clients – our customer “portal” where they can log in, access patient educational materials, marketing tools, clinical resources, a calendar of events, etc. We have an area where people can submit and view clinical Q&A. This is mainly a one-to-one communication where they submit questions to us and we respond directly to them. If appropriate, we might post the question and answer for all to see, but not show who submitted it. What if we turned it into an open forum where our clients could talk to each other? I think this would encourage our clients to use the site more and also create a greater sense of loyalty, brand and “family.”
We are supposed to have a meeting soon to discuss upgrades to our portal site…perhaps I will bring this up!
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