Institutions and social media – do they mix?
The growth of social media marketing has been spurred on in recent years, mainly by the new level of accessibility to consumers that the various platforms provide.
Facebook allows a company to post tailored promotional material directly onto a medium that the end user is likely to visit on a regular basis.
Twitter can give firms the opportunity to communicate with their customers directly – again through a channel that their fanbase is comfortable with.
Foursquare actively engages with their users by giving them incentives – both financial and otherwise – to visit new locations and buy new products and services.
It remains to be seen just how Google+ will benefit companies who chose to use the medium – at present, businesses are not welcome to use the social media channel and many that have tried to establish a foothold have been kicked out by the parent corporation.
But the main benefit of these platforms has been realised by businesses with something to offer to their customers that is unique to the medium – the chance to get to know a brand.
This is not an easy task for many firms, as they are a collection of individuals working together on a task with no other unifying features.
For these organisations, it's easy to see how the task of engaging with their customer on a personal level can become quite difficult.
This is especially true for institutions that have a long-established image of being relatively unreachable – how do you encourage the perception of an approachable personality when everyone you want to speak to doesn't think what you have to say is worth their time?
One simple answer to this is providing them with unique content – offer them something that is worth their time.
There have been several cases where seemingly bland institutions have surprised and delighted members of the public thanks to their take-up of social media.
One good example of this in recent times has been the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011 Census team spreading humorous comments and interesting details of past generations via its Twitter feed – gaining them a following of over 16,000 interested parties.