What I thought was the oddest question was posed to me by a coworker. I was sharing my latest blog post and after reading it, he stopped and said, “but aren’t businesses ruining social media?”.
Of course my immediate reaction was “of course not!”, but it really got me thinking. I posed several questions as a reaction to that statement and have answered them below, each time asking once again, “Are businesses ruining social media?“.
What is the definition and/or purpose of social media?
Well, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary social media is defined as:
So taking that definition into consideration, what is the purpose of social media? I would say it is to interact with other users, whether they are individuals, brands or businesses. It’s to stay connected, stay informed, and to waste countless hours diving into Pinterest boards and baby pictures of your ‘friends’ that you barely know. I figure that people general follow pages of companies they care to stay informed about it, people they want to stay in contact with, and brands they want to have the latest and greatest information on.
So, let’s answer the question: Are businesses ruining social media? With the question posed above, I would say no. People have social media to share information and stay connected and users have the option to follow who they want, when they want.
What role do businesses play in social media?
Businesses play many roles in social media according to my book. I think that businesses are on social media to stay connected with customers, serve as a customer ‘help’ pages, and to give their customers all of the information they could ever care to know. Business pages stand to be a resource center for information in the industry as well as the company itself.
However, the true end goal of a business being on social media is to sell their products. Owners and mangers want real results when it comes to making sales. Although it’s hard to quantify, most businesses believe in the power of social media and represent themselves on multiple platforms.
So, let’s answer the question: Are businesses ruining social media? To answer this time, I would say maybe. People follow business to stay informed or because they like the brand. Generally, they do not follow a page to be sold every time they see a status update.
Why do people like business pages in the first place?
There are, of course, many reasons someone would like a businesses page. 1) They like the brand 2) They have a complaint 3) They wanted to enter a contest 4) It is a local business or service that they are interested in 5) They want to stay informed on the companies newest products or services 6) Their friend manages the page (guilty of asking my friends!) 7) They do business with that company…The list really goes on and on.
So, let’s answer the question: Are businesses ruining social media? Well, with my reasons of liking the page listed above, I would have to say no. People like pages generally because they want to. If they didn’t want to, they simply could avoid liking that page.
If one wants to avoid business activity, is it even possible?
For the most part, yes, users can avoid businesses on social media sites. By simply not liking or following any businesses, a user can certainly limit the amount of ‘advertising’ they see on their page. However, it is impossible to avoid all business activity on social media sites. With things like promoted posts or tweets, paid ads, and friends sharing company posts, a user cannot completely avoid business activity.
So, let’s answer the question: Are businesses ruining social media? In this case, yes. With most social media sites, it is virtually impossible to avoid business activity. A user can avoid liking and following pages, but they cannot avoid being targeted by ads.
Is this the price we pay for having free social networks?
Most definitely this is the price we pay for having free social networks. Without things like targeted posts and ads, it would be impossible for the social media platforms to make money and they simply wouldn’t exist.
So let’s answer the question: Are business ruining social media? The answer in this case is no way! Businesses actually make your social networks run; clicking on their ads and seeing their promoted posts lets you enjoy a completely free social media experience.
I thank my coworker for making me ponder about such a simple question. Because of my profession, I immediately answered no, but there really are two sides to the story.
Do you think businesses are ruining social media? Tell your opinion below!
Until next time,