Even More Surprising Uses for Social Media
Social Cities – Municipal leaders are turning to social media in an effort to inform constituents about upcoming political debates, generate support for major initiatives and (less surprisingly) begin campaigning for re-election. Of course, the use of social media for politics became popular during the last presidential campaign but to date, city and municipal leaders have been rather slow to adopt social media as a method of interacting with the community or local stakeholders. That is beginning to change in part due to the efforts of concerned citizens and a few forward thinking local leaders. It’s a great way to interact with the community at large, inform voters on upcoming issues and answer questions.
Social Nutrition – In response to recent media fiasco’s, McDonald’s is finally tapping into an unmet need among consumers; interest in nutritional information and other food facts. McDonalds has encountered more than its fair share of negative publicity after failed marketing campaigns that negatively portrayed breed specific dogs (leaving animal advocates more than a little upset) and the now infamous “pink slime” campaign which resulted in numerous fast food giants removing it from the menu. Rather than fighting back, McDonalds is now taking a positive approach and launching a social media site designed to address customer food questions and concerns. From myths and stereotypes to serious consumer inquires regarding nutritional data or allergy information, it’s a very real move in the right direction. Early feedback has been quite positive from consumers and industry critics alike!
Social Education – Social media usage on college campuses isn’t anything new but it has traditionally fallen under fire among the K-12 crowd. In fact, many districts throughout the nation have prohibited teachers from “friending” students outside of official channels. However, with the expansion of Facebook expected to include younger children and the growing demand by parents who desire access to homework, class schedules and other updates via social media many districts are rethinking their prior positions. The ACLU has taken up the plight of many school teachers and educational staff who feel their personal privacy and right to friend/communicate outside of school hours is a civil right rather than educational position; indeed, recent rulings by the Labor board may further substantiate at least part of this position. However, parents and students alike are now increasingly interested in accessing educational materials, class assignments and other information via social media. In what is surely a balancing act, school boards across the nation are racing to fill the void without violating privacy or safety of students.
Social Credit Check – Although this trend hasn’t hit the USA (yet), it’s certainly worth keeping an eye out on especially given the popularity of P2P lending sites. In what has become a highly controversial stance, Germany’s largest credit agency has admitted to gathering consumer information via social media sites in order to determine credit worthiness. Information includes relationship status, current address, phone numbers, employment status and other pertinent details. Critics believe it is a clear invasion of privacy and argue information derived in this manner should not be used in the decision of whether or not to extend credit especially without informed consent. The credit agency dismisses these allegations and defends the position stating they have complied with all applicable laws.
Social Sports – From the Olympics to the NFL, sports teams are turning to social media in an effort to connect with fans and increase viewership. The summer Olympic games in London are the very first to be distributed in 140 characters or less as “likes”, “hashtags” and tweets dominate every minute of the action. Fans are out in force cheering their favorite teams and uploading every event in nearly instant real time display. It’s an event even the ancient’s would wax poetic about. Not to be outdone, the NCAA just announced social media recruitment is on the horizon, allowing coach and potential candidates to interact to their hearts content via smartphone or social media.
Social Search – In recent years a lot has been said about social search but as of June 14th, a beta version has finally arrived. Unlike traditional search engines, social search Vounia is the very first real life ‘social search network” that taps into the interest and activities of real people. Available in 12 languages, the beta site located at www.volunia.com provides a unique glimpse into an emerging technology which combines social and mobile to create a new type of search. Although average users may find it fairly similar to current search engines, social media marketing firms and SEO providers will find this of immense interest due to the use of totally new algorithm formats and functions. Try it out for a spin and see the future of social search for yourself. It’s only a matter of time before giants like Google roll out their own version.