An article in the Business Times – Why Social Media is the Next Big Thing – coined Social Media the “new buzzword as we enter the new decade”. Sure, Generation Y consumers like myself are already on the wagon to becoming expert users of social media with multiple Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger and LinkedIn accounts. But it is also critical for businesses to tap into this pipeline in order to engage consumers on a whole new dimension.
“The whole phenomenon of social media has led to the inter-mixing and inter-mingling of roles. Earlier, the roles were defined in that there were the institutions producing information for the consumers. Today, all these particular roles are getting intertwined with each other and we have new terms like produ-user, which is a producer plus a user. Another interesting term is Market-ocracy. It’s the rule of the free market where anyone can contribute but the influence they have is based on their merit.” –Dr Vijay Sethi, Panellist NBS Roundtable discussion.
With more publishing power being given to the average consumer, we also expect to see more interaction and information sharing between consumers. This means that opinions whether it be good or bad, will travel at the speed of light quite literally, and have the possibility of being picked up by millions of online users. Moreover, the web-like nature of social networks on the internet means that if one person picks it up, he/she is likely to share it with their friends, and eventually the information spreads like wildfire. So “if there is a negative review or posting, [businesses] cannot ignore it – they have to address it” according to Dr Kanapaty Pelly Periasamy, a panellist at the NBS Roundtable discussion.
Other than being a good platform to address customer dissatisfaction via direct interaction, Social Media may be utilised as a great marketing/PR and advertising tool. A popular blog may even reach more readers and subscribers than traditional forms of print media.
“Another impact of social media on business is that if you compare the blogs and some of the social media sites before and now, there is growth of advertisements on these sites. Some of these have now become self-sustaining with good revenue – a viable business venture for the person who started it…” – Dr Vijay Sethi, Panellist NBS Roundtable discussion.
Well, our job then as a Public Relations agency is to come up with strategies to utilize, manage and measure social media in a way that we can maximise the full potential of the digital medium.
“We are beginning to see organisations hiring managers to monitor and manage the social media. For instance, IDA put out an ad for a senior manager whose role is to develop, monitor and manage opportunities for local businesses in the social media space. Similarly, other organisations like marketing and public relations agencies now have social media executives to help clients devise strategies for the social media.
In the social media space, most of the tweets or posts are spontaneous or knee-jerk responses, but organisations cannot respond in this manner. Organisations have to respond in a considered and measured way, taking into account branding, objectives and market strategies to use social media to promote their business.” – Dr Damien Joseph
Social Media heralds in an opportunity to engage new customers and prospects and to reach people who may have great interest but little awareness of your brand and its offerings. Have you Facebook-ed yet today?