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Almost everyone I know use at least one social media networking website…frequently. What’s more…it is social acceptable to use popular social networks to keep in touch with long lost friends and existing friends alike. When I was a teenager computers were used for either gaming or work. Gamers were geeks. But social networks are used but regular people.
A top retailer of PCs famously utilised the interactive nature of social networking to improve their customer services. They noticed that negative comments were being published by a significant number of their customers. The comments centred around their dissatisfaction with the PC retail giant’s customer services. Rather that ignoring the comments, they began to reply and address the myriad of issues that plagued their company. The result was better customer services.
A clothing retailer has recently commissioned the redesign of their logo. A relatively large social media campaign has highlighted the dislike of the new logo by a number of the retailer’s customers who has since realised that they have missed an opportunity to interact with their customers using a new medium. Next time this gap in their design process can be bridged when they take advantage of social networks has a means to interact with their customers and gain their real opinions.
When we are stopped in the street by a guy with a clipboard do they really have our full concentration when we’re providing the answers to their questionnaires? Are we simply trying to get rid of them sooner by providing them with ill-considered replies?
I’m not claiming that social media should replace questionnaires, focus groups, etc. but what I do lay claim to is many popular social networks are both targeted towards and searched by individuals who are highly motivated towards accomplishing the tasks that they have designated themselves. They assign themselves these roles and uncompromisingly complete them, then move on to the next. I would argue that social media networks do appear to be fueling a dynamic of sensationalism whereby users can just about read or write a single sentence. I could argue that the typical heavy social media user is less likely to read many novels. Especially given the “text speak” that we are beginning to see on popular social networks. Is this attributable to the individual’s lexicon? I don’t know. But when I hear about pupils in their early teens who are writing essays in this way I do become worried.
Conclusion? Social media networking, at present, is a double edged sword which is growing at an incredible rate and even larger organisations have made the mistake of underestimating both its positive and negative consequences.