Guest Blog Post by Social Media Manager, Eileen Connors
Wow, I just got back from Nashville for a trip to the CMA Fest, which is the country music awards annual festival. It’s a big 11-stage festival that is mostly free, including an expensive 4-night concert at LP Field, where the NFL’s Tennessee Titans play their games.
There were a lot of people there.
Ages ranged from the very young to the very old. Few families. Many college age students. Many Generation Y-ers. Wow.
To say that social media was a focal point of the entire festival is an UNDERSTATEMENT.
I saw the downside of social media marketing.
As a social media marketer, I encourage small businesses to utilize social media to connect with their customers, fans, followers and supporters. It engages them, builds a relationship and trust in order to create and retain them as customers. This works great for small businesses because some businesses aren’t as “fun” as others. But, social media is social and engaging with others can always be “fun.” Connecting with your customers and making them feel that you care, is important, and online social interaction helps with this.
CMA Festival, which was sponsored by hundreds of sponsors, took social media marketing to a level I have never actually seen or been a part of. From the AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X at the new Convention Center, to The Buckle, to Fan Alley, to the numerous sponsored stages, you were bombarded with the opportunity to engage in social media.
AT&T U-Verse encouraged you to create a digital scrapbook. For every photo you posted to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, with the hashtag #uversecmafest they would compile the photos and send them to you as a digital scrapbook. When approached by the volunteer for AT&T U-Verse, I told her, “I’m sorry I don’t post that many photos to each of my social media accounts because no one wants to see that many photos from me..or anyone.” And, I’ll never remember to hashtag that…I’m already forgetting #CMAFest as it is.
I’ve never heard “post your photos to Instagram with hashtag…” more often in my life.
I know what you’re thinking. If I’m encouraging businesses to do just this (it is brilliant marketing, in my opinion), then why am I saying that I saw the downside to social media marketing?
Because everyone had their heads buried in their smartphones for four days (probably longer)! No one was talking to each other. They weren’t listening to the music, singing along, or dancing. They were legit just taking photos and posting them on Instagram, tweeting about which celebrity they just saw, or simply scrolling their Facebook newsfeeds to see what else was going on around town.
I really wish I saw more interaction between people. Less interaction with your smartphones. Technology is so scarily impersonal that we are losing out on life. Actual life. Actual meaning and relationships. Meeting new people. Networking. Socializing…in person. Not with a piece of plastic.
So, that’s the downside of social media marketing. And, CMA Festival showed me that you can go too far, as a business and marketer. Unfortunately, business is business, and brilliant marketing is brilliant marketing. Do they care about whether their customers are interacting on a physical level with other people? I highly doubt it. So long as they are hashtag-ing away and consuming, consuming, consuming, they’re going to turn a blind eye.
My challenge to you is…how can we fix this? How do we find the right balance between using social media for marketing purposes while also encouraging people to build relationships the old fashioned way. After all, anyone can hide behind a smartphone. Is this what we have to look forward to in the future?