There are now loads of agencies that specialise in social media. There are lots of traditional agencies which now have social media teams to help work alongside traditional digital (did you ever think you’d hear that term?) campaigns and marketing. I’m currently trying to enable businesses to think about social media in a different way – and not just for marketing.
Most people have to take an imaginative leap at this point which makes them uncomfortable. This is because our brains are hard wired – when we start doing something regularly in a specific way, we find it difficult to think of alternative methods.
I often give the example that people think of LinkedIn as one of two uses – lead generation or finding a new job. People who think of one of those uses find it difficult to understand the other use even though both are equally valid.
On Facebook, users, including the agency staff above, are comfortable using it for Messages and status updates from friends. Asking people to come up with alternative uses for Facebook is a bit like when Henry Ford’s quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
I was with the social media team from an estate agency at a social media event recently and asked how they used social media. It was the usually Twitter and Facebook use cases.
I asked what they would like to be doing on Facebook and they found the question difficult.
I asked what they thought people would be using social media for in five or ten years’ time. Personally I think they could already be asking customers with their property on the market, to regularly include a ‘For Sale’ on their status. It’s similar to having a large ‘For Sale’ sign in their front garden, (except the reach is probably much further).
It’s time for companies to start using social media for uses beyond marketing. We’re encouraging clients to think differently about social media because of the sheer number of users (i.e. their potential market). I’m finding that asking them to think about five or more years into the future helps them break from their current mind set.
(And from tomorrow I’ll stop all the horse references).
Photo courtesy of Tony Roberts on Flickr