Why Are You Using Social Media Channels?

By John Palinkas  |  Posted 08-30-2013
Social media

By John Palinkas

You are probably a bit puzzled by the above headline. After all, almost everyone uses social media, right? If you ask your friends, they probably have at least one account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. You probably even have accounts on multiple social media sites. Most companies have switched from traditional marketing to social media. So, why is everyone using social media?

I recently became the vice president of marketing for the New Jersey chapter of Society for Information Management (SIM), a networking group for IT leaders. I was asked to serve in the marketing role to specifically create a social media marketing campaign for SIM. As I was describing my plans with other members, I discovered something interesting. Many people think the only difference between social media marketing and traditional marketing is the channels you use. Let me give you an example.

Traditional marketing is all about “creating and delivering a message.” This can be accomplished through TV, radio, print, etc. It can also be achieved using social media channels like YouTube, Twitter, etc. Traditional marketing is one-way communication. But the fundamental difference about social media marketing is sometimes not understood. Social media marketing is all about two-way communication and interaction. It lets you receive an immediate response to your message—and to react and change your message, if necessary.  A key differentiator is that social media provides a direct and immediate channel of two-way communication between people.

Indulge me with one more story and then we will get back to my original question.

My business partner, Charles Araujo, has an interesting LinkedIn policy. He accepts invitations only from people that he has met in person or talked with. I decided to adopt this policy and try an experiment. When I received a LinkedIn invitation from someone I did not know, I responded by saying that I did not accept connections from people that I did not know, but I would be willing to schedule an introductory call. Here is the weird part: the majority of people never responded. Obviously, they took the time to find me on LinkedIn and send me an invite. There must have been something there that interested them. Or was there?

 Let’s return to my original question about using social media channels. If you look up the definition of “social,” you find “relating to the way in which people in groups behave and interact” and “allowing people to meet and interact with others in a friendly way.” I have seen people who follow thousands of persons on Twitter. Who has time to read thousands of tweets every day? These people are obviously not interacting. The same is true with LinkedIn and Facebook. Why do you want to connect with someone you do not know?

For me, social media channels provide a way to constantly stay in touch with people as they change jobs, locations, phone numbers, e-mail accounts and so on. Social media channels provide a link that survives almost all of the changes either of us might go through. Although I might not be interacting with them on a daily basis, social media channels provide a permanent way of maintaining our relationship.

If you are not using social media for the human interaction, you need to ask yourself why you are using social media channels. Is it a numbers game to see how many connections or followers you can accumulate? Are you trying to get your 15 minutes of fame? You need to ask yourself, Are social media channels really meaningful when overused? Consider these questions the next time you start to follow or request to connect with someone that you don’t really know or when you receive a stranger’s invitation to connect.

About the Author

John Palinkas is a partner at The IT Transformation Institute. ITTI is a catalyst for transforming the IT industry. ITTI helps change the DNA of IT teams, solving today’s problems and breaking the cycles that led to them, and to create next-generation IT organizations. John has spent more than three decades in the IT services industry, working with industry leaders like AT&T, AT&T Solutions and British Telecom. He has led numerous multimillion dollar, multiyear outsourcing and service-delivery engagements for dozens of Fortune 500 firms. He has extensive experience and expertise in IT transformation efforts, outsourcing analysis, M&A integrations and service implementations. John serves on the executive committee for NJ SIM Chapter, the leadership team of NJ itSMF LIG, and is a regular contributor to CIO Insight. He can be reached via email at John.Palinkas@TransformingIT.org, and you can follow him on Twitter via @jpalinkas.

You can read his previous CIO Insight article, “Why IT Financial Management Equals Cost Reductions,” by clicking here.