So the term "social media" is thrown around a lot these days as a way of making people think that us designers are clever in the way in which we update Twitter feeds. But what does the term actually mean in terms of everyone involved with it? For some people such as clients, social media is simply another tool in their arsenal, which can be used to get their message out. To others it is a major business opportunity. From the perspective of a designer and developer the term can be used as an umbrella for social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and helps add weight to something that might otherwise sound like a con - that is - "oh yeah and we'll update your Twitter/Facebook profiles every day with news, and that will be £200/$300". So it helps to add value to the work that many companies do, and enables clients to understand that there is a strategy and a plan behind such goings on.
But wait! What about from the perspective of the humble blogger?
To someone new to blogging, who wants to create an online presence and boost traffic to their site, having read a few articles on the importance of social media in today's society, they could think that it's a whole load more work to do which is of grave importance, when in reality it really depends on the site. For instance Chris Pirillo, a successful blogger is constantly tweeting links to articles on his site, but most of the time, these articles aren't written by him, and this really annoys me. Why? Well because if I like and value the opinion of someone, I might then follow them on Twitter, but that doesn't mean I want to be bombarded with links to frankly sub-standard material on their site that wasn't even written by them. But what this does, is drive traffic to his site, so it must be working for him on some level.
So instead of this, how about considering and planning what you will tweet. Instead of tweeting 25 times a day, why not tweet only 5? Or how about only tweeting only when you have something interesting to say? The last one is the one that will get you the most followers on Twitter because people only really care about the information that matters to the person that they are following. Also an important part of the use of social media is interacting with those who engage with you; so if someone asks your opinion on something how about and @ reply? Maybe not to everyone, but bear in mind that people like it when it's a real person behind the picture, not just some robot focused solely on increasing traffic to their site.
Okay, I've written quite a lot there, and I've not even reached my main point, so here it is. I think the term social media should be altered. To me it sounds like a big, bloated term that is only used to impress people. Why not just say that sites like Facebook and Twitter can help build an online presence? At the end of the day, neither Twitter nor Facebook were created with the intention of becoming a "tool" for use by companies, they were both created to help better connect people. So don't dress them up to be something that they are not. Sure a "Social Media Strategy" sounds impressive; but when that just means keeping feeds up to date and interacting with people a little, does it really require such a daunting name?
So by all means tell your clients that you are using social media to get their company noticed, but don't bang on about it! Keep it simple. Keep it informal. And most importantly, keep it relevant.