WITH Facebook now into its 10th year of existence, social media platforms have certainly come a long way. These days, it’s no longer a novelty for a person to say they’re working in digital marketing or that they’re a social media strategist.
We talked to several people in the industry to get their thoughts on the good and bad impact that Facebook has had on the business world, and what their hopes are for the future of this very crucial digital platform.
“Every day there’s something new for you to learn. I went for a two month long digital marketing course. Once I had graduated, I found that everything I had learned was already obsolete,” says Ada Foo Lee Mun, 26, who does freelance digital marketing work for a living. “Everything you learned yesterday is no longer relevant today.”
She definitely thinks there’s a bright future for those who choose to build their careers around social media.
“It’s a good platform to learn because it’s really fast paced and everyone is moving towards digital. It’s also a lot cheaper than traditional platforms,” she says.
Foo says she got into the profession because she felt it was a fun job to be in.
“It is quite exciting because you actually get paid to be on Facebook all day long. I would definitely recommend people to try it, but it’s not for everyone. It’s really stressful because you have to be on call and it will suck the life out of you if you don’t know how to manage your time properly,” she explains.
Foo advises those in her line of work not to take negative comments on Facebook too personally and learn to accept the good as well as the bad days.
“Everyday things work slightly differently,” she says.
A very real challenge that she feels many in her profession often face is in maintaining a healthy level of engagement and reach via Facebook pages.
“Everyone I have spoken to has experienced a drop in engagement recently. It’s hard to get clients to understand that they need to start spending money in order to reach more people. It’s a challenge because they don’t want to,” she says.
Foo hopes to see Facebook do better in terms of the way it develops its algorithms.
“When you interact with certain people or pages more frequently, they think you’re more interested in those things. This might not be the best way of doing things,” she says.
Meanwhile, Amphibia Digital Sdn Bhd social media executive Andrew Guan, 25, says that he enjoys the instantaneous nature of Facebook.
“The barriers to communication are almost gone. But the challenge is in knowing how to channel your message to your target audience,” he says.
Looking ahead, Guan says he hopes Facebook will gradually stabilise its platform as “it’s still evolving and there are a lot of changes going on.”
In essence, he look forward to seeing better quality content on Facebook and for the platform not to lose its lustre as a place for friends and family to connect.
“Right now it’s quite commercialised. Perhaps it (Facebook) could develop a different way for people to see brands instead of it coming through the news feed.”
Ernest Wee Choon Hee, 33, an account executive in charge of digital marketing campaigns at Gapture Sdn Bhd, says he was drawn into a job managing platforms such as Facebook due to the level of interaction that is involved.
“It’s about how to come up with campaigns or posts that will get people to engage with you. That’s the most fun because everyone is trying to get the public’s attention. I feel with Facebook it’s crucial to get the relevant audience’s attention,” he says.
“You will need to do a lot of research on the company to know what is their unique selling point, what they stand for and how they propose to be different from everyone else. Then you’ll need to brainstorm how to position the brand so it attracts those who would actually be interested in it.”
Wee adds that many people tend to misunderstand how Facebook should be used in a business context.
“Many tend to use it as a sales portal. We feel that Facebook is more suited for being a place to reach out to consumers on a personal basis and to get their feedback on your brand. It gives companies a voice to reach out to its fans,” he says.
“It’s not so about the much number of likes you get, but how many people actually interact with that post. This will indicate whether or not your post is truly relevant and engaging for your fans.”
Wee would like to see Facebook formulate clearer guidelines on their commercial offerings.
“For the marketers, a lot of what we do involves trial and error. We have to look at case studies and other people that have done things to get an idea of what works. Maybe Facebook could streamline their promotion offerings more,” he says.
Others, like Crystal Tan, 30, have even started her own digital marketing business due to the success of Facebook and other similar social media outlets. Little Birds has been in operation since March last year and will soon reach its one year mark.
“With Facebook, everyone is now a marketer. Facebook has made it so easy. It has lowered the barriers of entry for getting your stuff out there and engaging your audience, even if you’re a new business. It’s a good platform to get on and reach out to your target audience,” she says.
However, like Foo, she too admits that it’s really challenging keeping up with the latest changes on Facebook.
“There’s a lot of regulations and rules that they have which are constantly evolving. You have got to keep up to date,” she says.
In Tan’s opinion, another downside to Facebook nowadays is that it has become quite saturated in terms of its content.
“It can get overwhelming especially when you don’t know what’s credible and what’s not,” she says. “It’s very hard because when people repost things, they don’t check the source first.”
Tan gives the example of a once popularly shared Facebook post that listed the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world which had included Malaysia.
“If you were to drill down to the website, you would find that it wasn’t really authentic. Someone was just posting it up for search engine optimisation (SEO) reasons to generate a lot of Google search results.”
In terms of the career prospects for those working with social media, she believes that the future is very promising.
“We’ll need more people who are knowledgeable in other languages like Chinese or Tamil as there is a need for more expertise in those areas. There tends to be a shortage of people because so far it’s been very English centric.”
As for areas of improvement, Tan feels that Facebook could do better in the way it kept users informed about changes to its privacy settings.
“A majority of users out there are not aware of the changes,” she says.