Users do not want more advertising — they want attention

In March this year, during the boarding of a flight which went from Denver to Minneapolis, a United Airlines agent prevented a group of girls from getting on the plane. The argument was that they were not “appropriately” dressed. The girls (one of them was 10 years old) were wearing bathing suits. The agent insistently asked them to change into more appropriate clothes.

Another passenger, who was watching the scene, started to tweet the situation. Minutes later, he got a response from United — though a tactless one. Both passengers and Twitter users understood the agent was behaving in a sexist way. The company’s tweets were inadecuate in that complex situation, proving that United did not know how to handle the problem.

Being able to adequately respond in this kind of situations can be crucial for a brand. These days, social networks are places where an interactive brand experience can be built. Touchpoints. Points of contact between consumers and a brand. However, it has not always been like this.

In the last fifteen years, a new way of relating with the internet has emerged within the digital media. En los últimos quince años, en el paisaje mediático digital, se afianzó profundamente un modo de relacionarse con Internet. There was a breaking point towards 2003–2004: it was when two platforms were created, which shaped our way of relatung with the new technologies — MySpace y Facebook, respectively.

What did this change consist in exactly? In the popularization of a specific use of the Internet: the consumption of stories. It is true that his cultivation of the love to narrative modified our way of socializing. However,the mosy important part of this story is how it changed brands — and their relationship with their audience.

Social media pervade all discourse spheres and became fundamental in different ways of communication: government relationships, public politics, advertising, institutional communication, and customer services. In the beginning, it was a channel through which businesses and brands could transmit what they wanted to say. In a way, social media allowed for the rebirth of corporative narrative.

Today, it is no longer an advertising cannel. It is conversation. In real time.

Going back to United: today, social media teams need not only answer in real time, but they must think beyond their desks. They represent the brand in a larger scale than any other agent. They are a contact point between the client and the brand. A contact point that develops the image the client has of the brand.

As brand touchpoints, network management excedes the narrative function. Brands must there show uninterrupted availability. (A forectast made by Centre for Corporate Public Affairs for 2016 maintained that brands would need to instal entir centres dedicates to social media management). But they also need to satisfy presence parameters — through interactive and satisfactory management.

Almost one third of the world population uses social networks on a daily basis. According to Social Media Examiner, over 50% of the Marketing divisions that have implemented the use of social media to communicate for at least two year, have reported a sales increase. Social Networks matter, and so does understanding the new ways in which they work.