Head of corporate PR at GDP Venture
Social media is not a new thing for us. It was developed a long time ago but the technology was not widely used like nowadays, when it seems that almost everyone is into social media, including children, who start using the internet and gadgets at an early age.
In the late 1990s, I always started my day by connecting to mIRC (Mardam-Bey Internet Relay Chat) and Yahoo! Messenger. I used mIRC to ask strangers on the network to share their songs so I could save them to my MP3 player. A popular Internet Relay Chat client, it was used by individuals and organizations to communicate, share and work with each other on IRC networks around the world. You can still download it at www.mirc.com/about.html. Yes, it still exists, though the usage has decreased significantly. The fate of Yahoo! Messenger is even worse. It was the ultimate messaging app back then but now it is officially dead.
In early 2002, I embraced Friendster as I could find so many long lost friends on the app. It was one of the early sites that would bring social networking into mass culture.
In the late 1990s, people already used blogs to share their stories, but the launch of Twitter in 2006 changed the way people shared. Apparently, people like to express their thoughts and feelings anytime in short lines, including the less important information. Surprisingly, people like to read and comment on other people’s thoughts, either ones with strong news value or those they may find meaningless. People like to be part of conversations. Twitter soon became a popular social networking platform and trampled over blog sites. My guess is because human beings are social creatures who like to share. Blogs required people to be able to write, while not everyone was a good writer.
I can't place exactly how and when Facebook triumphed over Friendster (and all other social networking sites). But when it was launched, I soon forgot about Friendster. Perhaps it was the better functions, better UI/UX and how it was able to integrate as a business platform. It offers everything you need, such as finding networks, communicating with each other, posting updates, sharing content and it is also a news page for homeless media, among others.
One year ago, with the election coming, many said that social media made the situation worse. What used to be content sharing was replaced by irresponsible people who shared hoaxes. People fought based on hoaxes that were shared through social media, while others made videos and memes from hoaxes. Chaos ensued. The government then issued a regulation on how to share news on WhatsApp and created a platform to re-check hoaxes before sharing. Facebook filtered keywords on its feeds to detect suspicious words. But the war on social media got worse.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the function of social media is again shifting, though some people can be persistent in sharing negative content. But more and more are using social media to learn and share about new things to overcome their boredom of staying at home. While TikTok still offers fun short videos, there are also videos of DIY attempts as well as cooking tips and tricks.
A friend of mine has learned how to play the guitar from those who shared step-by-step tutorials free-of-charge on YouTube. My 8-year-old daughter learned how to play Minecraft on YouTube, while I've learned new recipes from Instagram and Facebook. Learning from social media is not a new thing, but the frequency of accessing social media to learn things during the pandemic has increased. Nowadays, I can say that social media is a guru for everyone, especially amid this trying time.
Frustrated marketers who cannot do offline activities should ponder on how to utilize this new learning behavior to promote their brands. They could jump on the DIY bandwagon by using their own products or create something new that is useful and relevant to the current situation. For example, when Dalgona coffee became popular, coffee brands could introduce their own versions of the popular drink and provide a link to buy the coffee incorporated with a particular e-commerce platform. It is also the best time for cleaning products to create content on how to keep the house clean and safe. For brands with products that are less relevant at this time, get creative. For instance, a bank could make a webinar on social media on the benefits of mobile and internet banking, as currently going out is frowned upon.
It seems that social media is back to its old track, as a platform that brings excitement and can be creatively utilized by everyone to share good information and new things. It can also be a business platform for some companies, from small-scale to big-scale. (wng)
Ossy Indra is head of corporate PR at GDP Venture. She has worked for media, advertising and information and communication technology companies such XL, Smartfren, Nokia, Telkomsel and Asus. She earned her master’s degree in marketing from Prasetiya Mulya Business School.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.