By Michelle Hyland
What is social media? The majority of people think of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn when they think of social media. However social media is much more than that. Today, social media also refers to networking sites that include Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, Commerce communities (such as Amazon and Craigslist), social bookmarking (such as Digg and Reddit) and collaborative projects such as Wikipedia. Social media is everywhere and you can take it anywhere, allowing people to stay connected no matter where in the world they are.
Social media is bringing the power back to the consumer! An important aspect of social media is that companies no longer are the sole generators of brand communication toward consumers. Instead consumers are sharing brand messages and advertisements, changing the cost and control of marketing. The internet allows for positive and negative marketing without company control over the content because consumers are free to share their opinions and thoughts online. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertisements. Making it important for companies to monitor what consumers are saying about their brands because consumers opinions matter more than ever before.
Today companies do not have a choice whether they will participate in social media or not. This is why companies have to be ahead of their consumers by shaping conversations about their brands and inviting consumer feedback. Companies are shaping conversations by creating venues online for consumers to gather information and provide feedback, such as a company Facebook page. The advantage is being able to have a specific place consumers can go when they have opinions, whether positive or negative, making it much easier for companies to monitor. This allows companies to respond to questions and concerns in a timely fashion while meeting consumer demands about their product or service.
By Michelle Hyland