The social media business
By Megan Davies - Digital Marketing Executive.
In The Social Network, after reading some of the hurtful things posted about her online, Erica Albright turns to her ex-boyfriend Mark Zuckerberg and says, "the Internet isn't written in pencil, Mark, it's written in ink." This quote is one of my favourites, taken from one of my favourite films, and it's one that I've been thinking about a lot since starting work as a digital marketing executive, not least because it concerns the very nature of our relationship with the Internet. In a nutshell, whether we're browsing the web, sharing social media updates, or watching a YouTube video, almost every move we make online leaves behind a trace of some kind – one that can have a lasting impact.
A place to call our own
Mark Zuckerberg is better known for being the creator of Facebook, the massive global social network that registered over 1.3 billion monthly active users as of September 2014, and has therefore left a very permanent mark on the way we use the web. With the rising popularity of social media platforms over the last decade, it’s become a more commonplace, if not an essential, occurrence for each of us to carve out our own little section of the web and use it to promote ourselves, our businesses and our opinions. Or, to put it in a digital marketer frame of mind, each of us are creating our own brand image.
A brand image is the impression that you give of yourself, and every time we update our Facebook profiles or share an update on Twitter, we are building up an image that we present to the world. What we can often forget about, however, is just who exactly can see this depiction. As social media becomes increasingly popular, the question of privacy is often not far from the newspaper headlines and the lines between what we consider our personal profiles and our professional ones can be open for debate, especially when we consider that anything that we put out on the Internet stays on the Internet. Badly thought-out Facebook updates and Tweets have both been responsible for people losing their jobs, and if you’re unlucky, statuses posted years ago can even come back to haunt you.
The power of the Internet
Of course, some people would argue that the Internet is both the best and worst thing to happen to society in recent years – yes, it opens up a wealth of global communication possibilities (social media included) and hosts a variety of information that can be readily available with just a couple of taps of your fingers, but the Internet has also become a place to be cautious of. Whether you’re acting on behalf of yourself or for a client, everything you say has the power and the opportunity to reach billions of people, even if you’re speaking through privacy filters in what should have been confidential emails – last year’s Sony hacking scandal confirmed that.
Writing in ink
Creating and maintaining a brand image is a large part of the job of a digital marketing executive; there is actually little difference between the way we craft a depiction of our personal lives online, and the way companies present an image of their business to the public. Here at Orantec, part of the service we offer to our clients involves creating a specific online persona for them and maintaining that image online in everything we do – from blog updates to social media posts. We have to find a voice for each of our clients and create a brand that is relevant and consistent across all platforms, but also one that is appropriate for the business. I’ve spoken before about the importance of joining in conversations on social media, but I’m learning that it’s also important to know when not to add your voice to the mix; not all hashtags are relevant for every business, and a company that makes the mistake of thinking so is remembered for it.
Of course, social media isn’t all bad and 72% of the world’s Internet users can’t all be wrong! A report published in 2013 revealed that social networking reaches nearly one in four people around the world and, with the global social networking audience set to hit a total of 2.55 billion by 2017, that reach will only grow as new audiences begin joining in and interacting on social media.
The business of social media branding can be a very difficult world to traverse, but when you nail it, it can be a truly valuable resource for businesses and individuals alike.