Social media has certainly shaken things up in more ways than one over the last six years.
To date, companies have embraced social networks and channels by setting up Facebook and LinkedIn pages amongst other social tools.Many view these as an extension of their current marketing mix and offer product information, sales notices and contact information similar to that on their corporate websites.
Companies have started using Twitter as a broadcast medium; tweeting when they have new products or are having a clearance sale as a syndicated one-way communication with their followers, but it’s the collaboration and innovation afforded to companies and individuals by social media that really sets it apart as a game changer.
Social media channels and the Internet generation as a whole are by default, all about working collaborations. Digital networking is la mode du jour; but for those who have grown up amidst the digitally enabled world, can it actually lead to social isolation?
Isolation in this sense comes from the fact that whilst actively engaging with others in real-time, often being part of a wider conversation or community, they are doing so sitting in front of a screen on a device enabled with social media tools, never actually having to physically communicate in face-to-face conversation at all.
Does that matter I hear you ask? Email didn’t kill the conversation, so why should social networking kill social skills? Isn’t it enough to converse via a screen and keypad? Each generation has used different forms of technology to interact with each other; surely this is simply the next stage in the evolution of communications? In some respects this is fine, and the younger generation have for the most part become experts at writing compelling content, because at the heart of social media – as in PR – content is very much king.
Collaborative working is a team thing – after all, no man is an island as the saying goes! But to work successfully in a collaborative way, it is imperative the digital youth of today be able to communicate with others in the tried and tested, old-fashioned art of conversation.
Social media channels and digitally enabled workforces are here to stay – it’s not something that can be uninvented, and there is no way back now. Twitter, Facebook and email or IM are commonplace in the businesses of today and tomorrow, and it’s only likely to become more so as workforces become less centralised thanks to technology and the proliferation of mobile communications.
Now it is a question of how the new rules of engagement will better the business environment. Ultimately it’s down to the individual to make the time, and take the initiative to remember that there are different ways to communicate other than an IM or email: the phone (fixed line or mobile) is still a great way to converse and get an immediate and unscripted response. If content remains King – which in all businesses it undoubtedly is – even in the digital, social media orientated world of today, personal conversation is still very much Queen