How Social Media Saved the World

It cannot be understated that we are living through a history-making difficult time. Hundreds of thousands of people are falling victim to a global pandemic and everyone is else either staying home or acting brazenly stupid. It shouldn't be surprising, though, that one of the upshots of all of this is that there has been a rise in meme-making.

First defined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 as a cultural idea that takes on a life of its own and is passed down through generations much the same way that genes are, the word "meme" has itself taken on a life of its own to define pictures made and passed around on the Internet that often lampoon various aspects of life. I don't think I've seen any new memes in the past few days that weren't about the COVID-19 epidemic. But this isn't the first time a global catastrophe has been made fun of in what could be described as a "childish" fashion. In fact, one of the memes I've seen compared the uptick in Cor…

Social Media: the Glue of the Marketing Department

(or welcome to Youth Group)

It's pretty clear when I talk to certain people that old-school, suit-and-tie business people don't really understand the point of social media. By default, they place it in the marketing department because it's another place to share your company's message and attract business. Then they don't see it generate any leads or revenue and decide it isn't worth it. But the truth is that social media is a completely different division of the marketing department that has never before been seen except maybe in church (I'll get to that). And it cannot be treated as just another marketing channel. Normal marketing channels are treated as hooks to grab the customer and reel them in, leaving the product or service itself to generate loyalty by virtue of its quality. Social media is a unique brand of marketing that shares the responsibility of loyalty generation in a way that a commercial or a billboard or a magazine ad simply cannot. It's not meant to pull in new leads or generate new business. It's meant to hold on to the customers you've got and make sure they stick around. If normal marketing is a hook, social media is glue. If you want to look for precedent for this kind of marketing, you will not find it in a college marketing class or the agenda of an ad agency. The only place you'll find anything similar is in church. Or temple, or the country club, or AV club, or any organization with a social aspect. Because of my upbringing, I'm the most familiar with church, so I'll stick with that analogy.

You've got the main event which is the sermon. Around that you've got music and prayers and all that. It's all intended to maintain and bolster your spiritual journey. But if that's all there was to it, lots of people wouldn't ever come back. That's why there's small groups, potluck events, seasonal parties; anything that puts the congregation together without having to stare at the pastor the whole time. These social opportunities are what bring people back. They make friends, they meet them on a weekly basis, they hang out outside of church, but then they go right back to church to do it all over again (and kick in a bit of a tithe). This is social media. As youth group is the glue of church, so social media is the glue of the marketing department.

Does that make sense? Do you get it now? You're gonna look at the numbers coming in from your social media accounts and you're gonna think "I'm not getting any richer off of this. What's the point?" Well, I'm telling you the point: Customer loyalty. Glue. Youth group. Maybe you're not gaining new business off of social media, but you're certainly not losing any old business either. It's because of your personality and vitality on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram that your constituency will visit you again and again and recommend you to their friends.

That's what social media is all about. The delicious smell of fresh glue. Mmmmm...