27 February 2014
Robichaud-Hatfield Frozen Foods
Johnny Cullen – Head of department of communications
Social Media Integration
The field of communications has changed rapidly over the past few years. As you very well know, the hay day of landline telephones, desktop computers, formal letters, and other classic means of communication from the 20th century has passed and given way to new, more efficient forms of communication. Companies that are still relying on billboard advertisements and television commercials are falling behind. Our sales have decreased because we are out of the loop, so to speak, in the modern world of advertising and communication with our customers. We need to turn this around, and to achieve this goal, we are going to have to get social.
Social media is being used by large corporations to advertise and connect with their customers in ways that were not possible before. By simply posting updates and announcements on social media networks, companies are able to reach thousands of people at the click of a button. This ability to access customers – or supporters of the company – is priceless.
Harold Innis, a professor at the University of Toronto in the 1900s, developed a communications theory that explains how different media are used and interpreted. He explains how different forms of media are more effective than others, and why this is the case. Innis divides media into two separate categories: Time Binding media, and Space Binding media.
Time Binding media is a form of media that lasts for a very long period of time. It is durable, but it is difficult to transport the message it carries, and as a result of this, the message does not reach large numbers of people. A stone tablet from ancient Greece, for example, can last for thousands of years. The message it carries, however, is viewed by a small, exclusive group of people. Space Binding media are able to spread messages to large audiences in a very short period of time. Though the message they carry does not last long, it is rapidly viewed by thousands of people. Computers, smartphones, tablets, Blu-rays, and other forms of Space Binding media quickly become outdated in our society due to advances in technology.
Social media comprises of various platforms (the big ones are Facebook and Twitter) and are operated through Space Binding media. Computers, smartphones, and tablets are all used to convey social media. The messages conveyed through social media, like a Facebook post for example, becomes available to a large audience with one simple post. However, this post will not be relevant for a very long period of time. The ‘newsfeed’, or continuous list of posts on Facebook, is updated very frequently, giving individuals or corporations numerous opportunities to have their message made accessible to large quantities of people.
Marshall McLuhan, a leader in the field of communications during the 1960s, argued that there are two types of media: Hot and Cool media. According to McLuhan, hot media is direct and leaves nothing to the imagination. Math textbooks with specific directions for a formula, movies with a specific plot, and lectures delivered with a clearly stated argument are all examples of hot media. Cool media is the exact opposite. Cool media leaves room for people to fill in the blanks; it asks us to use our imaginations. Examples of Cool media are comic books with their limited text but detailed pictures and television shows that show action and use very few words to do so. Social media can be categorized under both of these sections. While some posts on social media networks, such as a Facebook status that has great detail and an image to further contextualize the message for the audience, and thus rendering it an example of Hot media, other posts, like a “tweet” on Twitter are ambiguous and leave opportunity for the imagination to do the work. A tweet giving a headline, or asking a question with a link posted underneath is an example of Cool media, as it calls for the audience to use their mind to fill in the gaps and investigate the message.
McLuhan invented a model called a “Tetrad” to show how new media affects society and the impact it will have on old forms of media. The Tetrad model poses four questions:
- What does the new medium enhance, impact, make possible, accelerate?
- When pushed to its limits, the new form will reverse to its original, positive characteristics. What is the reversal potential of the new form?
- What earlier action, service, form is brought back into play by the new form?
- What is pushed aside or made obsolete by the new media?
When we apply this model to social media, we can predict where it is headed in the future.
- Enhances speed and efficiency of communication.
- Gives everyone a chance to voice their opinion, could be a bad thing because some people may have skewed perceptions of whether they are right or wrong.
- Retrieves our ability to control which content we have access to.
- Reduces the role of traditional media – why wait for a newspaper in the morning when you can read it on Twitter at midnight.
Based on this model, we can predict that social media will open more discussions worldwide and encourage steady, constant interaction. It may, however, eliminate traditional forms of media, like the newspaper.
Proper utilization of social media could be of great benefit to Robichaud-Hatfield Frozen Foods. Our Facebook page is out of date, and our Twitter account was hacked recently. Both of these conditions make it very difficult for us to stay in the game with the competition – they are, in a sense, on a whole other level than us. If we remodel our approach to social media as a corporation, our sales will increase. Advertising is much cheaper and more effective over Facebook and Twitter. Promoting a new product is made much easier on these models. We can post the same advertisement five different ways, attach pictures of the product to the post, and consumers can ‘retweet’, ‘share’, or ‘like’ the post, leading to more exposure and promotion of the product. Hosting contests, or free giveaways, is also a very useful technique for marketing our products that is made available to us through the use of social media. We can be creative with contests – “the person to post the funniest pictures with our French fries will win a Robichaud-Hatfield Frozen Foods duffle bag and T-shirt.” Customers love free giveaways, and we can use the amusing pictures they send in for further advertisement. Social media serves one essential role: it allows consumers to market our products for us. The people that subscribe to our social media networks are showing that they support us, which increases our sales and overall popularity.
Though the integration of social media into our corporation may at first seem daunting, the process is actually quite simple. First, we need to hire younger, more tech savvy employees who can bring their knowledge of social networking to the workplace and can educate our more senior workers. Employees that have been with us for a long period of time have respectable interpersonal communication skills, they simply lack education in our modern society. If we give them the tools to succeed in the field of 21st century advertising, we will be strengthening our corporation as a whole. We need to get our employees on these social networks to keep our consumers informed. In the same fashion you would tell your friend what you did at work if a new product came out that day, you can “tweet” or “post” this, bringing the message to large masses of people that are interested in what we do – put our famous French fries on their dinner plates.
If we can educate our employees by bringing in fresh minds with fresh ideas, our sales will soon be back on top. Steps forward require your complete cooperation, but together, we can once again make Robichaud-Hatfield Frozen Foods the brand New Brunswickers choose when they go to the grocery store.