The Super Powers of Social Media
2012 was the year of the Superhero. As big-name comics made their debut on the silver screen, an audible squeal of excitement could be heard from comic book geeks and moviegoers alike. It was also the biggest year for Social Media. Which naturally led us to ask, which Super Hero best represents which Social Network?
IRON MAN = FACEBOOK
Arguably the leader of his squad of superheroes, Iron Man is flashy, popular with the public and has more money than Zuckerberg. Although his teammates may not always agree with how he handles himself, Iron Man plays by his own rules to get the job done. Kind of like Facebook… Starting as a gleam in the Zuckerberg’s Harvard student eye in 2004, Facebook has become an international playboy, er, plaything of over 1 billion registered users and even has a full-length feature film based on it. Facebook continues to be the leading social media platform to create consumer conversations, allowing brands to expand their voice organically. Like any smart businessman, Facebook has many ways brands for brands to spend budgets to further inject them into their desired target market’s lives. Yet Facebook has not been without controversy, such as their stance on privacy. Sharing a user’s data and utilizing facial recognition are a couple of features Facebook users are uncomfortable with…yet the masses continue to “like,” “share” and “update” all day long. Even with the downsides, though, very few brands would not benefit from a strong Facebook presence.
THOR = TWITTER
Thor may speak a little funny and have a unique look, but he is a powerhouse on the battlefield. Once you get a hold of once he works, you’ll be happy he’s on your team. Brands may feel the same way about Twitter. While many people “just don’t get” the big social network with the little blue bird, Twitter has gained over 500 million users since launching in July 2006 – and publishes about 340 million tweets each day. (Twitter is the microblogging site that gives users the ability to create a short 140-character message, aka “tweet”, that is published to the feed of anyone who follows that user. It may seem trivial at first, but Twitter is the perfect playground for brands to build engagement, monitor competition and even share the occasional promotion. Just as with Thor, it may take a little time to get used to Twitter’s lingo – but once you do, Twitter can be quite the buzz-building weapon.
THE HULK = YOUTUBE
What the Hulk lacks in brains he makes up for in brawn. People talk about the Hulk’s escapades in awe, horror and hilarity. There’s no precise formula for what pushes mild-mannered Bruce Banner to become the ultimate wrecking machine. It all sort of sounds like video-sharing monster site, YouTube. Founded in 2005 by ex-PayPal employees Steven Chen, Chad Hurley & Jawed Karim, YouTube – now part of the Google gaggle – is the place for almost 50% of all videos housed on the Internet. Up to 72 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which makes it a challenge to break through the clutter…but when you do, oh boy is it impactul. Just like The Hulk, there’s no formula for making videos “go viral.” I mean, if someone were to predict that South Korean rapper Psy’s pony-dancing Gangnam Style video would reach 1.2 billion views (currently holding the title for most-watched video on YouTube), we would have said they were nuts. For brands, step 1 is creating a customizable “Channel” on YouTube where viewers can view your uploaded videos. Including portals and/or links to all other social media accounts, tagging your videos with relevant and searchable keywords, and (most importantly) regularly adding good content that people want to see all ups the social share experience while building your brand in the consumer psyche.
CAPTAIN AMERICA = MYSPACE
Steve Rogers was a Brooklyn boy growing up during the 1940s. Looking to make something of his life, he signed up to become an experimental “Super Soldier” – a program that injected Steve with a serum giving him super abilities. And thus Captain America was born. A star soldier on the battlefield, people were drawn to his charm – and it seemed there was nothing he couldn’t achieve. One day, during a classified mission, Cap was put into a block of ice by his enemies and never heard from again. Fast-forwarding 70 years later, Captain America was unfrozen from his ice prison and tasked to fight alongside The Avengers. Myspace shares a similar history (you know, without the superhero serum). Launched in 2003, Myspace was one of the first animals of its kind, allowing people to connect with friends through customizable pages, share photos and organize friends by level of importance (“Top 5”). Myspace was an instant hit, but with the advent of other social sites, Myspace was put on ice. Jump ahead to 2011 (which is about 70 years in social networking time), Specific Media LLC and pop music sensation Justin Timberlake bought Myspace with the intent to regain its former social glory. Their redesign includes more focus on music, allowing people to build song playlists, follow favorite musicians, and more. The new Myspace opened for Open Beta on January 13, 2012. It’s not yet fully understood how this “new” network can help brands optimize growth, but odds are that this old standby with modern muscle will be worth watching.
BLACK WIDOW = PINTEREST
Attention-getting Black Widow has much more to offer than her striking looks. Her powers come out when this seemingly normal woman is put in extraordinary situations, when she reveals her skills as a master assassin and an important player in the fight against evil. Pinterest is also much more than pretty pictures pinned on boards – and it is getting quite a bit of attention. One of the newer players in the social sphere, Pinterest’s unique design launched in 2010 – and since then has become a leading photo sharing platform. Pinterest allows users to upload photos (or snag them from the Net) and “pin” them to organizable “boards.” These pins can be found by search or following and “repinned” by other users on their own boards. Although Pinterest has collected over 10 million users (about 80% of those female), many brands remain skeptical about getting in the pin. For brands with a highly visual component like Martha Stewart, Pinterest is an essential tool for your social arsenal. It also allows you to create a pseudo online catalog in a manner that is both acceptable to users and that can lead to purchase – adding the super power of monetizing to social media. In fact, Pinterest currently drives more sales than any other social network, proving that it’s hardly just a pretty face.
HAWKEYE = GOOGLE+
Hawk-Who? People was a little confused to see Hawkeye play a role in The Avengers blockbuster movie. Some vaguely remembered the mysterious off-screen archer in Thor, but it was questionable to see him fight alongside such well-known super heroes. So he may have been a little outclassed, but once Hawkeye was placed into action he became more effective than people gave him credit for. Kind of like Google +. When itwas announced in June of 2011, people expected Google+ would be the Facebook killer. Giving people the ability to organize their friends in groups (“circles”), start video chats with large crowds of people (“hangouts”), and promising integration across all of Google’s other services (Gmail, YouTube, etc.) was a very alluring prospect. Unfortunately, these efforts came too little, too late as social media enthusiasts were already too engrained into other platforms to take note. Whether Google+ fades or shines will most likely be decided in 2013. Although Google+ estimates 235 million active users each month, it remains a question as to whether or not it shoots an arrow directly enough to consumers to be deserving a brand’s time and money.
NICK FURY = LINKEDIN
Nick Fury knows people. As the director of the S.H.I.E.L.D., he is not personally on the battlefield, but he knows whom he needs to get in contact with to get a job done. He singlehandedly formed The Avengers, the taskforce intended to protect the Earth from certain doom. Although it may not share the eye patch, Linkedin shares a similar outlook – it’s the place to find the heroes you need to make your business boom in 2013. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Linkedin remains the best place for professional networking, giving users the ability to upload resumes, follow brands, interact with career specialty groups, and network with their professional contacts or potential employees. There’s no question that LinkedIn is an enormous resource for team building, from both company and employee perspectives.
~ Matt DiCiero, Social Media Coordinator, The S3 Agency