I drank the Kool-Aid

Confession: I no longer think social media is just a fad. Yes, folks, I know it may seem a little behind on the times to some you, but there was awhile there when I was just putting on a front.

You might have thought I drank the Kool aid around June 2010, when I got my first actual job working for a brand in the social space. But I was still skeptical. I wrote my content, responded to Mary Sue from Whoknowswhere, TX and looked at numbers. But I didn’t get it.

I get it now.

What may have been preventing me is that for some people in my age group, thinking Facebook and Twitter aren’t cool actually makes you cool. Hipsters are often of this mindset. Or people who “don’t care what about what my friend ate for lunch.” And I always kept that in the back of my mind.

But in the past few months I realized what they don’t get is that, whether they like it or not, social media has completely changed the way we live our lives. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account (Yes, I know some people who don’t. And, no, I don’t talk to them often) it still infiltrates your life everyday. From the friend you meet at a restaurant she heard about on social media to the other friend who knows the Giants are playing the Astros today because she follows the team on Twitter. It’s there.

Social media has made the people more connected – something we have been striving for since the invention of the Internet. It isn’t a vehicle for hearing what someone had for breakfast. It’s a means of communication and connection on a human to human level that people trust.

It’s also leveled playing field. No one can hide in social media – not even brands. We have to be honest about everything. And I mean everything. One infmaous example? Coca-cola and Mentos. Already know what I’m talking about? Of course you do! It’s the Kool-Aid!

Long story short, some scientists posted a video of themselves adding Mentos candies to a bottle of Coca-Cola. Seal. Shake. Boom. Literally.

Most people thought this was awesome. But the risk was, “What is consumers think that reaction could happen in their stomach?” Can you say “trouble?”

But instead of taking on a long legal battle to get the scientists to STFU and say that they made the whole thing up, Coke ran with it. They hired the two scientists as spokespeople, created even more videos and got over 11 million views on YouTube.

People felt Coke was more real because of all of this. They felt like they actually knew the brand. The same people were still working on the marketing team, but they had drank Kool aid, too. They realized that social media gave them the chance to communicate whatever they wanted directly to the consumer with zero filters. And they understood that their consumers could do the same thing back. And they did, to the tune of 11 million hits.

So what’s the point of this post that started off about Kool-Aid, but may be about Coke? The point is that social media isn’t just about status updates or who someone is dating or where they got drunk and took off their shirt last night. Well, maybe still a little of the last one. It’s about knowing everything, about everyone. It’s about trusting what you know because it comes straight from the source – whether it’s a person or brand. And changing how you make decisions and live your life because of it.

So drink up.

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