Do you still get your news from watching CNN, FOX or even reading a newspaper? If you’re reading my blog, I highly doubt it. Okay, I’m sure you still get a glimpse of the news while watching TV or browse through websites and apps on your computer or tablet, but most of your breaking news is most likely received through social media. How did you find out about the death of Osama Bin Laden or Steve Jobs? I found out the shocking news through Twitter and of course had to share the news right away. Even big events are now followed through social media. The Royal Wedding, sports games and even the current Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are all events that people follow through social media. You can sit in front of a computer screen (or mobile) and get the play by play of everything that is going on.
This has become a crucial tool in disaster situations. All across the world, people are using social media to update others on earthquakes, hurricanes, social uprisings, plus much more. Social media and mobile have combined to become our new alert tool for when disaster has struck in our community. You can communicate with your friends and family (as well as your whole following), letting them know that you are safe, or find out how everyone else is doing. You can also browse through news and user profiles to get updates on the situation. Whatever the case may be, more and more people are going to social media to find out the latest news.
Companies are finally starting to realize this and are making more of a push to become real-time on social media. Do you have a question on how to install some hardware or how to find a certain feature in a program? Look no further than social media for your answer. Whether you tweet the company directly or post on their Facebook wall, you expect to get an answer quickly. It is a way to skip all the annoying automated phone menus and the “please hold while we try to connect you to the first available representative” messages. Unfortunately, when you do not get a reply you feel a little offended and wonder if the company actually cares. It could just be that the brand hasn’t begun making a social push but all you see is that this company did not take the time to reply to your question or comment.
I had a moment like this on Monday, where I wasn’t as much offended as I was lost. I had woken up and started on my work (reading through emails and such) and all of a sudden the power went out. After a few seconds of the initial “WTF just happened” feeling, I jumped on my phone and went straight to Twitter. Last time this happened, I noticed people from all over San Diego tweeting about their power outage and it ended up being a city wide issue. This time I saw nothing. I realized that the blackout may just be in my area so I decided to do a Twitter search for ‘SDGE’, the San Diego gas and electric company. Once again I saw absolutely no chatter. After going out and asking a few neighbors, I had come to the conclusion that it was just an outage in my neighborhood but I had no idea the reason for the outage or how long it would last. I had work to do and unfortunately most of my work takes place on the internet. I then sent SDGE a tweet, asking whether there was a power outage in my area, hoping for a reply so that I could find out more information about the situation. I never did get that reply I was looking for but luckily the power came back up after a few hours…a few precious hours.
Social media is now the place to go when you want to find out what’s going on or have questions that you need answers to right away. It allows spectators to following along with events, people to navigate through disastrous situations, and companies or organizations to communicate with followers through any issues or difficulties. Although social media can tend to be annoying and frustrating, especially with its fast pace, it allows us to bridge the gap in communication between people and the brands or organizations they trust in. SDGE does not really need to worry about losing customers to a competitor, but if they took advantage of social media, they could begin building stronger bonds with their customers and create connections that will not only help during blackouts and other events, but could lead to loyalty that helps push energy conservation and environmental protection. Social media is about connections, and these connections are what allow us to see events through other people’s eyes. No longer can brands push social media to the side. If their audience and consumers are on a particular network, they too need to get on there. They need to get on there and listen to all the chatter about them and their industry and use this information to grow engagements, loyalty and their company.
Have you been in that situation where you tweet or post directly to a brand but never get the response that you are waiting for? Frustrating isn’t it?