Without Humans, Social Media Has No Message

Technology and digital inventions haven’t always received a warm welcome. I remember the negative banter when shopping malls introduced automated ticket machines. City slickers were miserable about having to sort out the correct amount of change before leaving the mall and feeding it to a steel box. There was a firm belief that technology is replacing human beings.

Upon reflection, I’ve come to realise that the grievance was not about the machine but rather about the relationship lost with the young man or woman who would have handed you your change. As observed by Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media: The Extension of Man: it is not the machine, but what one does with the machine, that is its meaning or message.

Although it can be argued, much like a laptop, tablet or cellphone, social media platforms carry no meaning without content crafted for human connection. This would also signal that even without face-to-face time, social media is not degrading human connection but providing another avenue.

Facebook company or brand pages that pay attention to staying human in spite of technology have a competitive advantage. In just 2 months the TLC South Africa Facebook page has a 2000 strong followership. It began with a popular female lifestyle channel on television and grew into an online community of modern women nominating each other as the TLC Woman of the Year 2012.

Whether they are babysitting for a neighbour, caring for an aging parent or turning their home into an orphanage, women need an occasional break. The Fleishman team recognised this and built a content strategy to inspire and reward women for their everyday acts of kindness and when the competition closed, they would still have an online community that inspires them to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity.

Video still hasn’t killed the radio star. After print, radio and television, social media has once again restructured the relationship between machines and human beings.

So don’t panic, technology is not replacing human beings, it motivates companies to stay human regardless of the medium.

It is not social media, but what content has been crafted for social media, that is its meaning or message.