It is an unquestionable reality – today’s world revolves a lot around what is published or shared on social networks. With its inherent pros and cons, this parallel world (so close and, at the same time, so distant from reality) dominates social interaction, the global economy and is even increasingly decisive in major political decisions, both in a country and worldwide.
This form of communication, which is progressively rooted in everyone’s habits, is fertile ground for the development of the work of people like Myra Thompson, specialising in Digital Strategy, Marketing, who has agreed to share her perspective with us on this week’s edition.
Milénio Stadium: The first question may seem basic, but it’s a good place to start. What is the importance and impact of social networks today?
Myra Thompson: Social media has become an every day part of our lives today, 4.5 billion people – over 50% of the world is on a social network (80% of people in Canada, 76% of people in Portugal and 70% in the US). Given this reach and usage alone it is no wonder it has impacted lives and industries in many ways, some positively and some negatively. This also leads to the importance of them and the power, influence and ethics that have had to evolve with social media. There are thousands of social networks across the world, but lets look at one that most people know, Facebook, it started in the dorm of Harvard, designed for it’s students and within 2 years in 2006 it was launched globally. Now we have 7 out of 10 people in Canada using it and generating more revenue than any other publisher in Canada. It’s important because it is here, lots and lots of people use it, it has disrupted industries, possibly impacted election results, created jobs and continues to evolve. It was just recently that they announced the metaverse, the next evolution of Facebook. They are talking about immersive experiences, connecting with people across the world but feeling as though they are in the room and so much more. The keynote presentation was really something else.
MS: When we think of corporate self promotion, one of the most important tools used today are social networks—why is that?
MT: I think it goes back to the amount of people on social networks and how they have evolved. If you want to capture consumer attention you have to follow where they are and communicate and tell them your story how they expect it and where they are – think of a TV commercial, a radio message isn’t going to be the best thing to put in that spot. There’s a social network for almost everything in your life and each of them continue to expand and offer different services on their platforms. You can showcase your brand to potential employees or consumers in different ways, a picture on Instagram, or a whitepaper on LinkedIn. It can be both an efficient and often more welcomed way to promote yourself corporately to a consumer or potential employees or businesses. There are over 740 million members on LinkedIn and over 55 million registered companies, that results in a billion interactions each month, a great opportunity for companies to showcase themselves and grab the attention it needs from all of those members irrespective as to where they are located.
MS: There are many people using social media as an exclusive form of employment—for example, the “influencers”. Companies have also realized that digital marketing is becoming increasingly important. How does one use these platforms to generate work opportunities and financial return?
MT: There are a couple of ways to do this, if you own your own business you can sell your goods or services through the platforms. The influencers make money by receiving endorsements or paid promotions by companies who are hoping that their followers will be more inclined to buy their products and services
MS: There are several different communication strategies on social networks. How do marketers define the guidelines for each entity?
MT: The platforms have algorithms that will provide suggestions to marketers to help them achieve their goals. They also have a number of policies and guidelines in place, for example sizes of images or the number of words or characters that can be used. For the most part though a marketer will have either an agency or in-house social strategist to help them along.
MS: Videos, photos or both? What is the most effective method to capture the attention of people scrolling through their timelines?
MT: It’s a big question as it depends on the platform and what you want people to do, overall though video always seems to come out top, as long as you have auto caption. One of the good things about social media is you can test a number of versions of your content and see which one works best for you
MS: How important are the new streaming services for media companies?
MT: They are very important, the internet, digitization and technology have changed media and entertainment significantly. In two ways really, based on the impact it has had on changing the consumer, as well as production capabilities. New streaming services continue to see growth, and media companies should follow their audiences.
MS: What are the pros and cons of social media in today’s society?
MT: Wow that’s a BIG question, there are so many studies out there. In my personal opinion one of the cons has to be the peer pressure/bullying in the younger age groups, the pro has to be the ability to communicate and ability to learn.
MS: Is mental health, in any way, affected by the misuse or overuse of social media?
MT: Absolutely, again many studies on this and there continues to be. The fear of missing out, unrealistic ideals of other people’s lives, along with online bullying are all signs. You can feel inadequate about yourself, depressed, self-isolate or become self-absorbed. It is very serious and everyone should be aware of the signs and get help if needed
MS: Do you believe some people confuse the real world with the world that social media allows us to live in?
MT: For sure, an important thing to remember is that technology and digitisation can make anything real. There is no “editing” or authorisation on posts (aside from vulgar or obscene of course), so basically it’s the wild west. There are also tools out there that enable you to change images and voices from original content or just create bogus content, so it’s important to know if the source is credible. On the flip side, user generated content or personal content generated often does reflect the truth and many causes have been born on social media.