Social media … both the Saviour AND the Anti Christ

In our workshops we often talk about how people are rarely indifferent to social media – they’re either pro or con.  Social media polarises people.

I read a story recently in the careers liftout of The Advertiser here in Adelaide.  It was a double-page spread on how jobseekers could use social media in their search for work.  The article was littered with phrases like ‘you need to be in this space’, ‘everyone else is doing it’ and ‘this is the best way to improve your chances of finding a job’.  It was extraordinarily pro social media and the reader was left thinking that if they didn’t get themselves into social media immediately then they may as well not bother applying for jobs.

It reminded me of a story about the issue of Australian swimmers posting on Facebook photos of themselves holding guns (  You can argue whether that was smart or not (and I don’t think it was) but the storm that unleashed was incredible.  At the time, I listened to talkback radio and also read the comments sections of a few mainstream media outlets to see how people were reacting to the story.

What I saw surprised me.  It didn’t matter whether people thought these two swimmers were doing the right thing or not.  The one thing that seems to bind all the responses together was the view that ‘that’s the problem with social media’.  Regardless of whether readers/listeners felt the swimmers had thought through their actions, they all seemed to think social media was at fault.

So, social media is both Saviour and Anti-Christ.  Talk about an identity crisis.

How does that relate to social media in business?  We are often dealing with management or general staff who see these stories and form opinions accordingly.  I have already had a conversation this week with a business owner who actually quoted the swimming story saying, ‘pretty unsafe this Facebook thing, so I don’t think we’ll bother’.

That’s our biggest challenge in social media … finding that balance.  To talk down the hyped-up social media converts and to talk up the haters.  Once we find that balance, running social media programs is much, much easier but importantly, much more profitable.


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