I’ll never forget the day my mom opened a Facebook account and began her journey into the world of social media. As her friending, commenting and “liking” popped up on my news feed, she seemingly took over a method of online communication that I had identified with my generation, and my generation only. But the truth is, my mother (and now my grandmother) uses Facebook for the same reasons I do — to establish and maintain connections and keep up with the latest news about people I know or want to get to know.
Now adults, children, celebrities and politicians can mingle in the vast arena of cyberspace using social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It seems that if you aren’t online, you’ve already fallen behind. That’s not just true for individuals, but companies, as well. A Digital Media Wire report found that 94 percent of companies invest in various social media outlets as a platform for marketing and communications. Businesses, like people, need to connect to current and future customers. Using a variety of social media can be an extremely effective way to reach targeted groups.
Companies can directly engage in conversation with their customers to find out what they can do to improve the products and services they offer. They can also use the networks to share news during service interruptions. After the devastating floods in May 2010, Nashville Electric Service (NES) used Facebook and Twitter to provide customers with safety and energy information, answer questions, and reassure the community that they were listening and working to restore services. In fact, NES received national recognition for its use of social media, paving the way for other utilities companies across the country to do the same.
As more and more companies use Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness, business, and meaningful communication with customers, I’ve had to accept that these sites are not just for my friends and me. Social media is for everyone, everywhere, and it’s one of the best ways for organizations to reach audiences across the globe. Now if I can just forgive my mom for her foray into Facebook …
Hilary Rocks is an intern at Parthenon Publishing. She recently graduated from Vanderbilt University. In addition to her work at Parthenon, Hilary is a contributor to Nashville Arts magazine and holds an internship at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.