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Are you listening to your Twitterverse?

By Kelsey Tape

Think back to the 2008 presidential election. Did you see Tina Fey’s numerous “Palin” skits aired on “Saturday Night Live?” Were you one of Barack Obama’s five million friends on Facebook? Did your friends direct campaign news your way via Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. FourSquare. Social media has transformed communication between individuals and companies.

“It’s a people-drive economy stupid,” said Erik Qualman, author. And that’s exactly what is explored in Qualman’s book, Socialnomics: how social media transforms the way we live and do business.

Social media can be intimidating, especially with the numerous platforms, and deciding which will benefit you or your organization most. Steve Kaufer, corporate executive officer of TripAdvisor described Qualman’s book as a “must-read for anyone trying to leverage the social graph rather than be squashed by it.”

Nowadays, millennials aren’t the only ones Tweeting or updating their Facebook status.  Within the last year, social media usage has increased by 88 percent among users between the ages of 50 and 64, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Some of the main points I took away from Qualman’s book are:

  1. Businesses don’t have a choice on whether they do social media, but rather how well they do it. The messages of you or your organization now have the potential to be shared relatively quickly through Facebook status updates or Tweets, and the possible number of people seeing it is now greater than ever before. Qualman points out that word-of-mouth advertising has always had the most impact for advertisers, but now it has become “world-of-mouth.”
  2. Try to use social media to get hired rather than fired.While you may be sitting in the cozy confinement of your bedroom, what you say on social media platforms is not private.  Social media is a public forum, and remains out there for the world to see it, whether you like it or not. Qualman points out that if you dontt want your mother to read it, then it is probably best to leave the comments off the public forum.
  3. Social media allows open, multilateral conversations that are much more effective than unilateral communication. Utilizing social media tools allows you to save time and money.  It also leaves room for two-way communication, whereas traditional advertising doesn’t, because it is a one-to-many way of communication. Which leads to the question of, would the Obama campaign have been as successful with traditional advertising?
  4. Social media poses the greatest threat to Google. People trust product and brand recommendations from people they know, because they know how the person is, which may say more about a product than a search-engine produced review.  Social media platforms are the most successful when they “allow users to brag, compete, or cool by passing it on.”

The overarching theme of “Socialnomics” isn’t the choice of social media, but how well you’re utilizing it. “The best strategy in social media is a simple one; in life and social media speed and simplicity win,” Qualman said.  “Always remind yourself of the fundamentals.”

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Kelsey Tape (@ktape25) is a student at the University of Minnesota in strategic communication – public relations and with a minor in communication studies. Throughout high school and college, Tape filmed and edited multimedia projects for community sports teams and weddings.  Tape has worked at Cassini’s Pizzeria in Cottage Grove, Minn. for five years, where she has fine-tuned her customer service skills by answering telephones, supervising employees and managing the restaurant on weekends.  Tape played Fastpitch softball during high school, which helped her evolve her leadership skills and hard-work ethic.  Tape has also dedicated her life to the world of entertainment and pop culture.

This book review was an assignment for Eva Keiser’s class at the University of Minnesota during the Fall 2010 semester.