Local businesses surf social media waves

By Gianluca D’Elia

Businesses are discovering that staying current with social media trends can prove effective with customers, according to a workshop offered to faculty and students on April 23.

Rider’s Master of Arts in Business Communication’s workshop, “Building Social Media Strategies for Your Small Business,” was led by communication professor Dr. Aaron Moore in the BLC.

“Here you are, sitting at a table with your laptops and phones in front of you,” said Moore. “When you go to a restaurant, you tell your kids to put their phones away, but now, we’re encouraged to talk and eat with our computers in front of us.”

A study from Duke University recently reported that social media represent 9 percent of marketing budgets. This number is expected to rise to 25 percent within the next five years. According to Moore, social media increases brand awareness, recognition and connection for small businesses.

“You want to get your brand out there so people can be exposed to it,” Moore said. “There are two key parts of branding — you want your consumers to be able to identify you, and you want to be differentiated from your competitors.”

Moore emphasized focusing more on the “social” aspect of social media.

“You have to turn your stakeholders into 21st-century friends,” he said. “The term ‘friend’ means something different in the social media era. You have to put yourself in the position of a friendship.” 

An important part of maintaining a successful social media presence is connecting with the younger generation. College students are in the “next wave of social media.” Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are considered to be the “first wave,” while Instagram, Tumblr and Vine are “second wave” forms of social media. Since “second wave” forms usually require less writing, they have made users’ attention spans much shorter when it comes to reading social media posts.

“Instagram in 2015 is what Facebook was in 2011,” said Moore, emphasizing that posts with images have double the engagement of those without images. “A few years ago, I said to my class, ‘What’s Instagram? I don’t get it.’ And a student told me, ‘It’s popular because we don’t want to read.’”

Since people do not always want to read a lengthy post, Moore encouraged shorter posts with visual images.

“Maybe some people didn’t get on social media earlier because they thought it was frivolous or a fad,” he said. “But that’s what happens when a new medium appears. Now, it’s more than just reconnecting with former friends and simply having a presence. You have to be on it as well as create content. People didn’t take it seriously in the beginning, but it’s more than posting pictures of food.”

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