ACOM 5308 enabled me to take a more in-depth look at how social media impacts agricultural communication. Listed below are the three most important concepts, ideas, and principles I have learned in this course. In no particular order:
Social media’s presence is everywhere!
We are inundated with it on a daily basis. I can honestly say I underestimated social media’s influence before this class. This became evident to me one night while watching TV and noticing the majority of commercials ended with a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram logo present on the screen. Having been previously lost in the fog, my eyes had been opened!
Its ubiquity is easily seen by looking at statistics. In class we learned that six billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month and Facebook has 1.3 billion users, approximately 20% of the world’s population.
I recently went to Subway and purchased a bag of Frito Lay chips and sure enough the back of the bag read, “Find us on facebook.com/fritolay!” If you’re a business and not incorporating social media as part of your marketing plan, you should be. Businesses need to embrace social media to thrive and stay competitive. Similar to an athletic scenario, they need to get in the game instead of watching from the sideline.
Building a fan base
So you’ve decided to use a social media platform and identified your target audience. This is great but there are a few basic housekeeping tasks to gain an audience and keep them engaged. One of the most important elements, consistency is integral to any social media platform. Followers don’t want to read or see what happened two years ago, they want to see what’s going on today. Publishing content must occur on a consistent basis to sustain a viewer’s interest. Content must also be relevant to your target audience. You need to resonate with them or satisfy some need or purpose. Quality, valuable, useful content gets and keeps followers. Another key element, creating dialogue among audience members, enables viewer’s to connect with each other. Through dialogue and conversation followers can share stories and make comments making them feel their input is valued and appreciated.
As with any technology, social media has benefits and drawbacks
Listening and responding to comments, building relationships, reputation control, and enhancing brand recognition are all benefits of social media. And even better yet, having an online presence through social media is FREE! With 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions influenced by social media, consumers are more apt to believe testimonials over advertising (Source: Erik Qualman, #Socialnomics 2014).
With these benefits also come drawbacks. Commonly social media serves as an outlet or venue for people to vocally express their opinions. News travels in exponential rates on social media, faster than it does by word of mouth. A fire that starts can quickly get out hand. Privacy is another concern with social media. People willingly post personal information about themselves, pictures of their children, videos of coworkers getting drunk at the company Christmas party, etc. This digital footprint exists forever in the cloud. Unfortunately we live a world where trust is hard to come by.