I’ve been pondering about this idea for some time now and it occasionally scares me how other people are going about building their social brands, and I dare say, leaving their social legacies, says Sandra Burger.
After checking out the Facebook profile of a respectable politician (who has been around for more than 25 years) over the weekend, I found a very interesting mix of ‘friends’ on their timeline. I’ll acknowledge that their ‘friends’ have quite impressive profiles, but I stopped counting at 400! Maybe that’s average for a prominent person in the public eye, but it will scare the heck out of me if I was posting to 400+ people at any given time – especially if I know that they’re from different cultures and upbringings. But then I suppose the best thing is to have two accounts: a 400+ public friends profile and a minus 100 private one.
So where do I fit in with my meagre 53 Facebook friends? Nowhere, some might say. I rest my case, by quoting my Mom: “You do not have to have 100 acquaintances, if you can have a handful of close friends”.
The average user in South Africa has 130 friends (let’s call it double that for the more mobile sociable people). I’m still a far cry from that number. We often hear, “Facebook is my own personal space”, but is it? How would a global celeb such as Christiano Ronaldo do with 105 763 964 Facebook fans globally? It is a no-brainer that he has to have a team monitoring and posting on his behalf. Shakira has 102 426 888 fans and it is impossible that she has a one on one relationship with them all either! The fastest growing South African Facebook page belongs to Trevor Noah at 142 484. A mere 12 907 more than Cassper Nyovest!
The exponential expansion of messages being sent has become a headache for some. No wonder companies are now catching up to the fact that Facebook is no longer ’my own‘ personal space and that many companies are introducing courses on social media etiquette, do’s and don’ts.
Questions also arise on what constitutes a friend, especially since a person on your contact list is defined in Facebook as a ‘friend’. The legal fraternity is consistently being challenged with new terminology and interpretations and courts are questioning things like ’defamation‘ and to what extent hurtful messages could be devastating to a company or person. We all remember the most recent posts regarding prominent students and lecturers from our own South African universities being expelled or repudiated over their social media posts! I would argue that the warning signs are out for all to see.
I’m not a tweeter, but like to read tweets – especially if they’re work related because I like to be informed. Globally, the average person has 208 followers on Twitter. I will not even quote my number of followers here, because I’m the stalker and would not like to be stalked! What I find fascinating is, as the world gets smaller, people and brands chase (mainly) the same people. Consumers and technology continue to be the primary force for business and personal disruption. So we’ve really opened ourselves and our businesses up to voyeurism and forums that promote the expression of opinions.
I suppose if you have constructive information to share people will read it, but sharing gossip and “no(n)sense” is beyond me as I don’t find it interesting, nor entertaining. But I suppose there are horses for courses… otherwise fans bases would not necessarily grow wildly… Currently AB de Villiers is tops on the South African chart with 109 277 followers and Trevor Noah is in a solid fourth place with 86 227, after Caspar Lee’s 106 213.
That brings me to wearables, a piece of technology which is about to take over our lives. More and more people are taking a proactive approach and responsibility for their own health and fitness. Most of us are wearing some sort of fitness/health gadget or lug the cell phone around to measure the steps, flights of floors, blood pressure, etc, but they’re not all worn for that reason… social media access is possibly of more concern. I would however, like to know if there is substantial research on the impact on your health on a person who is connected to wifi all the time? What I see in medical journals display only mentions with no substantial evidence yet. Just wondering when then?
With constant innovations in technology, new revelations in big-data, changes in consumer sentiment and market conditions, customer experience of products and services are also adapting. In the past we were told that sugar was good, then stevia and xylitol… and I predict that in a couple of years cane sugar will once again be the best. Will this not also be the case with our technology fetishes?
Maybe not, because customers are driving and looking for experiences which offer the most value to them and in their lives, and they tend to look for long term relationships. From a marketing point of view, we should maybe focus harder on ways that differentiate us from competitors to sustain long term relationships. What is clear is the fact that we have to be adaptable to the ever changing customer environment, just as much as we’re drinking xylitol in our coffee at the moment.
So by building our own brands, we are also laying cornerstones and bricks to companies’ social footprints and we’re doing it through more and more social platforms and gadgets. The scary thing is that our social footprint is also being monitored by these same companies that we follow and like.
My question is: Is this the end of the individual? I’m afraid that all this social interactivity and brand mingling is bound to typify people in blurring personal and institutional characteristics and it just may be that the take-over of the super computers are not too far away! The cynic in me says: What a legacy!
Sandra Burger is business unit manager at The Media Shop. Follow on Twitter @MediaShopZA