To me, Social Media means collaboration.
For a music fan it can mean direct connection to their favourite artist, for an environmental charity it might provide a forum for alternative vision. The important thing to remember as a brand, business or organisation is that Social Media offers a unique opportunity to listen.
Most of us have always enjoyed expressing our opinion, it just so happens that a lot of us now do it online.
The power of influence has shifted towards the hands of the consumer and that can only really ever be a good thing.
As many an enthusiastic marketeer will tell you, the traditional word-of-mouth ‘one-to-few’ model has long been surpassed by the tempting ‘many-to-many’ lure of Social Networking. Social Media creates an environment where a conversation can propagate outwards exponentially, in infinite directions.
Facebook claim on their official stats page that their average user has 130 friends. That’s a potential 130 people noticing your message every time a fan of your page interacts. No interaction, no awareness. In other words, it works best if you have something interesting to say.
The result (in most cases) is respectful, valuable exchange emerging from a quality control that is self-moderating.
It’s easier than ever before for pro-active individuals and interest groups to cultivate opinion (good or bad) and motivate action. Many brands have reaped the benefits without lifting a finger, others have learned the hard way.
Being a Bristol lad I feel obliged to highlight the recent Blackthorn campaign, which follows the cider brand’s decision to revert back to their original flavour after trying and failing to go the alcho-pop route.
The important thing to note here is that the resulting online revolt didn’t just spur a refresh of their marketing plan. Consumer campaigning has influenced a reversal of product strategy that will affect Blackthorn at every level of their business.
Could they have avoided such a costly reversal had they posed the question online? Probably.
Wispa asked the question. They got an assured reply. Wispa Gold made a glittering return as a limited edition treat across the land.
If I’d told you 10 years ago that thousands would gather in one place to will a chocolate bar back into existence would you believe me? OK stranger things have happened (especially in the West Country), but you get my point!
As with all things though, the majority of us don’t have the worry of a blog storm or the instant kudos of a runaway viral hit, but do need to work a bit harder to avoid the pitfalls of ignored Facebook updates or un-requited Twitter @replies. That’s where good content and an ear to the proverbial ground will always help.
The right place, the right time.
Social Media is not necessarily the immediate answer for every company or organisation looking to extend their online presence, but it is important to monitor what is being said and then decide on the right time / place to start.
You have been given an amazing opportunity to get closer than ever before to the real & constantly evolving opinion of your customers.
Let them know your listening.
Give them what they are asking for.
Gossip is never idle.