Putting the social back into social media

As a card-carrying member of the baby boomer generation, I began my transition toward social media later in my life. It started as a way to share my professional and personal interests online and quickly moved into all facets of my life. My newly found interest had potentially turned into a scary endeavor with unknown consequences.

As with many nondigital natives, I found myself navigating a whole new digital world that expanded far beyond my physical interactions with family, friends and colleagues. It was a new reality that was constantly being driven by a false sense of urgency to follow, like and share information about what was happening in my world.

In 2006, I took the digital plunge and signed up for Twitter, followed shortly after by LinkedIn and Instagram. From that moment forward, the prevalence of social networking has changed forever the way I communicate, interact and connect with a global community.

Moving at the pace of change

Fast forward to 2019, and the social digital experience continues to define how we shape our world. From the clothes we buy to the food we eat, digital technology has accelerated the speed in which we can make snap decisions. Ads based on someone’s past browsing history, combined with a hyper-social network, can begin to monopolize these experiences at the expense of the socialization. Simply stated, social media has become less social and more media.

On any given day, our digital feeds are inundated with ads, offers and promotions based on algorithms feeding on our digital footprint. This new digital reality has become less about being a social media and more promo-media, shifting the experience from transformational to transactional. Whether it is the next blockbuster Hollywood movie or a museum exhibition, social media continues to be the platform of choice to attract attention and business by embedding information in our memories and influencing our social behaviors, placing us one click away from our interests and desires.

Looking back to move forward

Does this shift in the use of social media as a cost effective and disruptive marketing communication tool ultimately win over customers enough to establish a powerful brand identity? I suggest there is another path to success that takes us right back to the roots of social networks: the human connection.

The true effectiveness of social media is its ability to share stories, real experiences that are meaningful and authentic and are happening in real time to real people. At times, it connects our work lives with our personal lives by “telling and not just selling.” It puts the social back in social media.

Businesses and nonprofits alike can boost their online street cred, as well as their bottom line, by strengthening their customer relationships. The process of reimagining social media platforms is not just intended to focus on the content but is an opportunity to create a connection well beyond just reaching into wallets and reaching into lives.

Mark Masuoka, John S. Knight Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum, has over 30 years of leadership experience. Mark has successfully led nonprofit art organizations and businesses in achieving exceptional performance, profitability and sustainability.