Affinity Groups and Social Media
In this day and age, social media is running through the veins of not only our personal life, but our businesses as well. Half a decade ago, I don’t know what was more painful…having a tooth pulled or getting a client to agree on a social media plan. That was after, of course, we went through the education process of why a social media plan is important. Now there are websites dedicated to finding your next job position with exciting titles like: “Social Media Manager”, “Social Marketing Manager” and even “Social Media Analyst”. In some cases, these positions even make-up the team of an entire department within a company.
So how is this changing “the game” and how does the interaction take place? We’re glad you asked! Correct us if we are wrong (and please feel free to comment on our Facebook page), but there appears to be a shift happening: moving from a “macro” approach to a more personal “micro” connection…also known as affinity groups.
Facebook – Full speed micro!
Facebook is all about friends/“likes” and how to keep connected. This holds true for individuals and businesses as well. Now, for example, we have your average individual on Facebook. They are infatuated with their Miniature Poodle, Miss Fru Fru. This individual could create a page to share their love of dogs or they could even create a page to show their love for Miniature Poodles. This individual chooses neither of these. They choose to create a page specifically for Miss Fru Fru, share it with everyone the dog may or may not have come in contact with, and to show off her amazing lion cut that more than likely completely embarrasses this dog, but still generates the “Awwww” reaction upon passing glances. Along with this, a Twitter account is setup so that Miss Fru Fru can tweet about the amazing nap she just had and how her owners will never find her secret stash of hidden socks she keeps lifting from the laundry basket. This may be diving a little too far into it, but the point stays the same: affinity groups are quickly on the rise within the realm of social media.
Why go through all that trouble? This allows people to connect not just with a type of animal or even specific breed, but on a much more personal, one-on-one level and gather like-minded people together. This applies to advertising and marketing as well. When placing an ad or trying to reach a certain market, you want to get the most out of your budget. You want to have your target clearly defined and connect with them. This can be done through social media. The Hilton Hotels have seized this great opportunity and offer a multitude of Facebook pages for specific Hilton locations, encouraging guests to post pictures and updates from their stay there, forming a company location affinity group.
A little blue birdie sending love and keeping you connected
Another company that is a prime player in the social media realm is JetBlue. JetBlue has been known to respond to most tweets about them in a fairly quick fashion. From tweets about missing sunglasses, issues with confirmation numbers and even as far as responding back with a “we love you too” comment here and there, JetBlue stays connected with its clients through social media by utilizing Twitter’s potential to the fullest. Now granted, JetBlue can’t get to every tweet, but they have a great track record of allowing their customers to feel appreciated individually through personal responses, and not just a tweet blast to the masses stating their apologies. Connections like this will continue to keep their customers happy and loyal.
Current research shows that the top-three social media sites businesses engage in are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are new to the social media arena, we recommend you have a social media plan that includes a strategy, rules and guidelines your employees must adhere to and someone on your staff dedicating a proportionate amount of time necessary to keep everything current; for smart small businesses; 3 to 5 hours a week will suffice. Have fun with it, but don’t get sucked into too much “social,” and not enough “media.” Remember, ultimately, you’re using social media as a spoke in the wheel of an integrated marketing plan and you must focus on ROI for every outlay, money or time.
So if you ever catch yourself wondering what Social Media can do for you, then ask yourself, “How connected are we with our clients/customers and how can we build a better connection to shift to a more personal level?”
Thank you Gerald Rollason of Mindspot Research for your contributions to this article.