The study of sociology may be one of the oldest soft sciences. For millennium people have sought to understand the society they live in + how it affects the individual. The rise of the digital age has made it simple for societies thousands of miles away to intersect + for new subcultures within that society to form. As marketers, it is crucial to take a look at our craft through a sociologist lens, especially in regards to a day-to-day tactic like social media.
What is sociology?
Sociology is “the study of our behavior as social beings, covering everything from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes.” In a nutshell, sociology explores how people + their behavior are affected by the society in which they live. Sociology combines psychological + anthropological knowledge, while looking at the many parts of society from politics to gender to economics to religion. It takes all the aspects of culture + puts them in a context to better understand why people act the way that they do.
I’ve long said one of my favorite things about social media is the power it gives to everyday people. Long are the days of isolated governments (mostly). Social media is enabling a global society where it is easier to question cultural beliefs + norms. It not only teaches us about other cultures, but it helps bring light to issues that may burden other societies. It also lets people know in other societies that they don’t have to follow the status quo.
How can understanding sociology can help marketers?
Like any emerging media, social media changes society as we know it. It’s a modern-day printing press. We can use sociology to better understand social media + what role brands can play. By understanding how a society or a sect of that society works, marketers can better target their messaging. They can determine what role is appropriate for corporations in current society + work to reach out to consumers in ways deemed socially appropriate + socially necessary.
Sociology can also be applied to understanding social media communities. Every social network is different. Each network has a unique demographic + unspoken rules. By following these rules + interacting appropriately in the network’s ecosystem, brands can see social success. Social media is so much more than just pushing out information. It’s about interacting with people in a meaningful way.
As you consider any strategies for social media or in a broader marketing context, keep in mind the society + culture within which you seek to influence.