Social media is changing the way individuals communicate with one another. It is how many of us stay up-to-date with news near our homes and around the world, keep in touch with those who we went to school with years ago, are notified of class reunions, seek advice from peers, and much more. Social media has also changed the way companies are doing business. Within social media channels in particular, businesses have the opportunity to push content, news, promotions, and more out to a targeted audience. As an individual, to be connected with a company through your social network of choice, you need to fan their page, follow them, or opt-in in some way or another. Therefore, as a company, while you may not have thousands of followers or fans, you know that those who are connected with you are already interested in your products or services and want to know when and what content you share.
One of the most powerful parts of social media, in my opinion, is how consumers can have an affect on brands and products. Consumers contribute to a brand’s presence within social media from the very beginning when they fan or follow the company’s page or profile. Within Facebook, for example, typically those individual’s friends are then notified that they are now a Fan of X company’s page. In Twitter, that person’s news feed will then include the company’s tweets, enabling the individual to retweet that message instantaneously. This is very powerful because as a business you are now a part of your fans’ communities and they can help to spread your message for you.
SheSpeaks Annual Social Media Study shared data about social networking that I thought was pretty profound. Although those surveyed were women, the information still shows how powerful consumers are within social networks.
The largest new media purchase driver is email, but purchases based on information within blog posts increased dramatically from the prior year.
It is quite obvious that participation in social media facilitates brand awareness and purchases. It’s important to note that direct sales are not always made immediately from a link placed on a Facebook page or within a tweet. Instead, someone may share an experience that they had with a brand or product within their social network and that information is then spread to their connections, potentially influencing their friends’ perception of that brand or product.
If your company is not in social media today, and particularly if you have a consumer-oriented brand, it’s something that should be seriously considered in 2010. Now more people are able log into their social networks instantaneously from almost anywhere, including from their phones, which will leads to a continued growth of these social networks and their marketing potential.