Social Media and Social Networking have already paved the way in changing how we vote, interact, date, share and collaborate. When I started PPLparty in 2005 clubbers were looking for a faster way to know about the next visit by Oakenfold (DJs, promotions and events) without having to look for a poster at 8am on their way to work.
Social media is a new take on old-school marketing and customer services. It's a series of events all linked together by people (backed up by technology). Social Media results can be seen in the real world, I'm not just talking about those FlashMobs you see in Trafalgar Square, I'm talking about bottom line results for businesses.
Seth Godin puts social media simply:
Social Media: It's a process, not an event.
Dating is a process. So is losing weight, being
a public company and building a brand.
On the other hand, putting up a trade show booth
is an event. So are going public and having surgery.
Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited
about. Processes build results for the long haul.
Anybody can place a Google ad, or an advert in the Guardian, but the currency for social media is not about reach (how many clicks on the advert, or how many eyeballs on your newspaper advert). The currency in Social Media is attention and engagement.
The reason why social media has become so successful is because it is driven by the consumer. Just take a look at one of the most popular social media site on the planet: Facebook. It wasn't started by a marketing director at a FTSE 100 company, it was started by a student who wanted to connect with his friends (and replicate offline conversation, yes products and services are a daily conversation topic for many of us).
Businesses find social media hard to understand because they would never allow their competitors or customers to write their advertising material or Christmas newsletter. Social media forces businesses to stand naked in-front of the mirror and if they wont do it, their consumers will reveal the ugly (or beautiful) truth without their support.
Social media offers up an opportunity for businesses to follow the chatter around their products; which they might not have been able to tap into traditionally.
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