I know how much people who I went to school with love their husbands and how clever their children are, not because I see them on a regular basis – but because their Facebook posts tell me so.
My job in communication means that I’ve had to embrace social media, and don’t get me wrong, for some things I love it.
For one, the immediacy in which you can share information is fantastic.
Gone are the days of faxing or phoning copy to a newspaper and running up to their offices with my photograph for them to magically put onto their system. Now a simple tweet or Facebook post shares the message instantly with the people you want to talk to – that is of course if you’ve chosen your audience wisely and not just gone for the numbers.
Following and being followed by the right people matters as much as what you post. It is not about how many followers you have. In its infancy you’d often hear people talking about the number of followers they had on social media, now thankfully it has all started to get a bit more sophisticated. I’d rather the companies I work with have 100 real contacts on a social media platform than 1,000 irrelevant ones.
Social media is about having conversations with and engaging with audiences. For businesses it is a great way to share messages with their customers and respond to queries quickly and efficiently. Social media can be really informative, you can find out breaking news, learn about traffic problems to save you journey delays, read about events and importantly for companies you can read what other people – your customers – are saying about you.
This can make a real difference to businesses. By listening, they can identify problems and if they are on the ball they can deal with them quickly and effectively nip situations in the bud.
Recently my husband and son travelled to Manchester Airport to pick up me and my friends as we were returning from a wedding on the Isle of Man. Unfortunately a flat tyre forced us to a halt on the motorway. The good old AA were there within 20 minutes. ‘Hurray,’ we all thought, until they took us to a Tesco car park and left us there on a Sunday evening. The store was shut and when it got dark it was quite unnerving. Many phone calls and quite a few hours later and we were still waiting.
However not long after I tweeted about our plight, the AA decided to send a taxi to get me, my son and the girls home.
The next day, via Twitter, the AA contacted me to apologise and phoned to talk through what had happened. I can’t for sure put this down to the power of Twitter – but no brand wants to be the one that is publicly being seen not to help their customers.
*Charlotte Dimond, managing director, Wise Owl PR