Over the past year, I’ve worked with Aren Grimshaw on a number of projects. These include Twestival, Social Media Cafes and the Social Media for your Business events, aimed at local SMEs. Aren consults businesses on the use of social media, is a public speaker and also organises events. It’s safe to say that he is a busy chap and has many fingers in many pies!
I consider Aren to be one of the most knowledgeable people I have come across when it comes to understanding social media and how businesses can implement it smoothly, so a big thank you to him for taking the time out to answer these 10 short questions:
Do you actually like the term social media?
The term itself poses no problem to me, it’s all the hype and furore that is built up around it, that often bothers me. I think what is happening in the wider social context, heavily affected by what we term ‘social media’, is far more interesting and has a deeper impact on businesses.
Many hold the view that there is a seismic shift in the way organisations are having to re-think their communications. Do you share this view about the size of the shift?
Absolutely, we are seeing an ever more cynical and wiser consumer, open-access to huge databases of information over the web and the ability to add our own voice to the mass – how can that be seen as anything more than a seismic shift? Companies who continue to push outdated models of ‘broadcast, broadcast, broadcast’ onto consumers need to face up to the fact that many consumers just aren’t paying attention to their messages anymore.
What would you consider to be the biggest misconception amongst SME owners who are thinking about using social media?
That it’s all about Facebook, Twitter… well in fact any technical platform. They are just tools that can be used to help build relationships with consumers. In the same way a sales person can pick up a telephone and make a sale, or upset a customer, these tools are no different. We all need to take time to learn what works and keep adjusting our approach to match what achieves results. Unfortunately, a lot of the advice out there is focused too heavily on teaching people how to use the tools leaving the wider context and communications aspect out of it.
Will geo-tagging really be useful for businesses that operate in a rural environment?
Who knows, it’s still too early to tell. Is it fun? Yes. Is there a model for businesses to get something out of it too? Yes. Will consumers adopt geo-tagging in a big way? It remains to be seen. As long as the applications and devices are simple to use, and most importantly the consumer receives some reward (mentally or financially) for their participation I expect so.
Other than those you have worked with, what companies have recently impressed you with their social media activity?
Have you come across Fetish on Facebook? They have really impressed me with the content they share each day. When you find a Page that updates you with content that you just have to share with your friends, you’re on to a winner. (In my opinion anyway).
With so much content being created and shared online, what key things can companies do to try and stand out?
Don’t try standing out, that’s what everyone else is trying to do. Try giving your customer what they need instead; a better service with the information they want, when they want it. Don’t tell them how good you are – prove it in everything you do.
If you could give one piece of advice to a Twitter newbie, what would it be?
Don’t try too hard. Listen first. Make friends. Be good to others. (That’s four I know!)
Facebook now has 500 million users. What is the biggest factor to their success?
It’s always difficult to tell what makes one site so successful over another. Very often I think it’s to do with so many factors, such as timing, trends in the market, the technology available etc.
However, if I had to say, I think it’s the range of uses and the value it brings to all ages and walks of life that underpins its success. A grandparent seeking to keep in touch with their grandson on the other side of the world, a small business communicating with their customers, or a teenager sharing pictures with their friends – each draws a different value from the same site, amazing really.
What are the best examples you have seen over the past year of online collaboration delivering real results?
I’m biased, but it has to be Twestival. It’s such a great example of people collaborating worldwide to deliver real results. Better style, the results can be felt around the world, and often by the people who need it the most.
Generation Y are supposed to IT-literate and at ease with changes to modern technology. Is there really a lack of understanding amongst Generation Y when it comes to online privacy?
Tragically, I concur with Eric Schmidt on this one, we face a generation of people who may need to change their names to hide their past. It is so easy to post a status update or image; however, we might think far more carefully if we were told exactly who would see them during the course of our life. My personal philosophy – don’t share anything on social networks that you wouldn’t be happy to shout out in the middle of a busy street.
Thanks Aren for taking the time to do this.
If you have any views on what Aren has said, or if you want to answer some of the questions yourself, please leave a comment below.
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