Social media has not only become a big part of our lives but a modern buzz word. There are language classes specifically on writing for social media; teachers talk about incorporating social media in their lesson plans – not to mention the number of business people and business students who consider advertising on social media a solution to all marketing problems.
Obviously, the creation of Facebook has changed the world into one in which social media is perceived as the solution to everything. No matter how many times I explain in marketing classes that merely creating a Facebook page does not help advertise one’s business, I still receive many marketing proposals in which the sole advertising effort is creating a Facebook page. It would be just like opening a retail shop on the 19th floor of a 50-floor building hoping consumers would somehow pass by. At least there may only be a hundred shops in a 50-floor building – how many businesses are on Facebook again?
Of course, social media is a very useful way to communicate. Nowadays, having a Facebook page is not just an advertising effort for businesses, but a necessity. Consumers are accustomed to checking opening hours, phone numbers, addresses, and product updates via Facebook. In fact, as young consumers spend much of their day on Facebook, it is not surprising that businesses targeting young consumers need to have a virtual presence. Yet with such popularity, I was surprised to know there are still quite a number of young people who do not use Facebook.
One main reason people are not joining the Facebook club is technophobia, which happens more among the older generation, but a few young people experience this as well. The idea of having to learn how to control and update a page from time to time, no matter how easy it could be, may cause an anxiety attack. However, for the sake of promoting one’s businesses, or in my case, urged by friends from different places to keep in touch, cases of technophobia can be overcome. So, non-users afflicted with technophobia perhaps will not stay out of the club long.
Another reason I hear most among non-Facebook users is the privacy issue. To my surprise, it is not about worrying that one’s personal information will be stolen on Facebook – we are smart enough not to put information we do not want people to know on our profile. It is the worry that people will know what we are doing all the time. Well, “mighty” as Facebook is, I do not think it can automatically know what we are doing all the time, not unless we post our lives on Facebook. So, here, social media is not at fault. The solution is self-control.
In fact, I have not yet heard anyone choose not to use Facebook because they do not need Facebook to connect to anyone. A quick informal survey reveals to me that quite a few young people’s Facebook friends are all people they know in Macau. So, is there really a need to use social media to be kept posted on what’s happening to our friends in a city where news travels faster than light? Okay, this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but we do sometimes hear rumors before they even happen.
It is true that Facebook is very useful for connecting with friends afar, and to share and receive news of people, products, events around the world. The disadvantages of using Facebook can also easily be overcome. But just as it should only be one part of a marketing campaign for businesses, we should ensure that Facebook is only one part of our communication with people whose lives we care about.