At the CMA Conference, Social Media Appears Generally Misunderstood

rob almeida gcaptain
Rob Almeida, gCaptain – image courtesy Marine Money

While at the Connecticut Maritime Association Conference this year, I was invited to speak to the audience about the topic of social media and its influence within the maritime industry.

To be honest, I didn’t really know exactly what I was going to say until a few minutes before I was scheduled to speak.

As I was sitting there waiting my turn listening to my other industry colleagues talk on the subject, I came to the conclusion that social media was a generally misunderstood topic.

In its simplest form, social media is any medium that allows simultaneous two-way interaction and broadcast capabilities. The ability to have two-way interaction and broadcast capabilities is only possible within digital media, and that’s where the confusion begins.

Digital media and social media is, in many cases, the same thing when it comes to journalism – the only thing required is a comment box at the bottom of an article and poof, you’ve created your own slice of social media. Although press releases on company websites are posted digitally, it is not social media because those websites are broadcast only. They do not permit two-way interaction.

The next bit of confusion is actually using social media and understanding your audience.

For companies like Teekay and Maersk Line, they’ve built up a strong following of seafarers on their Facebook page and a seemingly more office-type following via LinkedIn.  In the video below, Teekay’s Director of Corporate Communications, Jonathan Anthony finds Twitter to be more of a haven for the media.

Personally, I think it’s somewhat difficult to generalize social media channels by demographic because the way you use a particular channel will really shape who engages with you.  Then again, you also need to decide if you want to be a broadcaster and lead the discussion, or simply be a part of the conversation and leave it to someone else to build the engaged community.

In short, it comes down to understanding what you want to get from your interaction online and not being afraid to open yourself to the interaction that comes with online communication.

McQuilling interviewed Jonathan Anthony and I following our presentations, here are our comments:

If your target audience doesn’t appear to be listening to you, or if there aren’t any signs of engagement from your target audience, the following might be reasons why:

  1. You’re not saying anything of interest to your target audience
  2. You’re not saying it in the right way
  3. You haven’t given your target audience a reason to engage with you
  4. You’re trying to sell them something
  5. You’re speaking to the wrong audience

Why is social/digital media a good thing for the maritime industry?

  1. It keeps things transparent and promotes a culture of safety and honesty.
  2. Brand building – digital media can, and does, reach FAR more people than print media
  3. Job advertisements – what websites do the people in our industry visit on a daily basis?
  4. The ROI is highly trackable – user and engagement data via advertisements can be very useful from a sales standpoint
  5. Casualty communications – allows a company to put out the facts of a situation immediately.