Today, I experienced yet another social media moment in a Matatu. I was waiting at the stage when one of these typical Nairobi Matatus stopped by. The music was loud, the TV ridiculously big, the colours flashy, and to top it all up, a conductor and river with an attitude. I was in no particular hurry but since I enjoyed the Hip-Hop song blasting from the speakers, I jumped in and sat by the driver. A couple of people jumped in too including this mid-thirtyish looking guy who sat on the seat behind the driver. Before we could leave, this guy tapped the driver on the shoulder and with a customer is always right look on his face told the driver to turn the volume down. That was the when the driver lost it. He turned on the man that this was Nairobi where volumes cannot go down, only up. And he followed this up with a statement that got me smiling. He said, “Why don’t you just examine the ages of the passengers around you and determine if you fit.” He then he invited the man to alight if he pleased to which the now visibly angry man got off and a young lady quickly filling his space. We left with driver laughing and shaking his head at the same time, wondering aloud how absurd some people can be.
Social Media is becoming more prevalent especially because of its cheap yet effective marketing credentials. Businesses are joining the social media bandwagon as evidenced by the growing number of groups, fan pages, twitter, requests that you get in your inbox every day. Though it is great that companies have recognized, what is not so great is that like our man above, most of these businesses fail to understand that some of these platforms they are using are not the ideal platforms for their businesses. The music may be too loud, the videos on the screens to revealing for their conservative tastes, and those in the car might be speaking a different language altogether. Not every social media platform is right for you. Depending on your social media objectives, social media policies, the industry your business operates in among many other parameters, social media platforms will thus differ. And there are no one size fits all social platforms.
This is the reason listening is a core principle in social media. Listening is a reconnaissance visit. Before engaging in any social media imitative, businesses are encouraged to listen because it is through listening that businesses will get to know who is talking about them, where in terms of social platforms people are talking them, what people are saying about them, and more importantly to determine which platforms are frequented by their clients, suppliers, employees, etc. It is only after listening can a business make an informed decision about the social media platforms to utilize for its marketing or even customer care and product development activities. But blindly joining any social media platform will lead you an unfamiliar territory where the music is not to your taste, the volume given your age a danger to your ears, and the happenings on the TV an affront to your moral compass. Your only choice will be to alight with a vow to choose your next Matatu Social Media Platform carefully.
Another problem with not listening aside from choosing the wrong Matatu is, not understanding the rules of the game. This mans crime after choosing the wrong vehicle to board was thinking that they would change the rules of the game just for him. The driver could not have said it better when he told him to examine the ages of the people around him and then determine of he fit in. Social Media itself has its own set of rules that are different from Mass Media and each social media platform has its own rules that are different from each other. What these mean is that as a business, you cannot impose the Mass Media rules that you are use to in Social Media Platforms. In the same breadth, you cannot treat every social media platform as the next because each platform is different and serve differential purposes in the larger scheme of social media.
Therefore, as a business, ensure that you do not board the wrong car to begin with. There are many social platforms and there must be one/a couple that will serve your social media objectives well; find it/them. After that, learn the rules of the game. Do not try to get people to change what they have been doing in these platforms on your account. You will be invited to leave either kindly (unlikely) or through a backlash like our man received when he asked the driver to turn the volume down low.
What has been your experience?