Social media is here to stay. Social media has not only changed the way that people communicate with one another but it has gained an increasingly important role in business. With sites like Yelp, Facebook, Kudzu and others, consumers have ways to communicate with one another that were previously unavailable.
Prior to social media, companies did not have a direct line to their customers when it came to their product or service. Social media is good news is this regard. Market surveys were the main way that company’s got input. Now with social media, a company simply has to ask their friends and followers to give them feedback so that others will know about their company. Now companies have more knowledge of what people want and need and they can more easily identify the problem areas of their business and correct it with direct feedback from their customers. They now have ways to give away promotions, coupons and other goodies to those people that follow them on social media. This is a great way to reward loyalty at a low cost. All good news for businesses who use social media.
The not so good news is that with social media websites like yelp and other similar ones is that customers now are free to post their opinion about your product or service so that hundreds of thousands of people can see it. A bad review can cost you many many customers and a good review on a social media site can bring you lots of business. The danger is that a customer or client who is not happy can tell the world with the few clicks of a mouse. Now that is not good news.
So has business been changed by social media? You bet it has. Businesses can no longer treat customers poorly if they want to keep their ratings and reviews positive. It is very difficult to get a customer to remove a bad review so the lesson here is to treat customers right from the beginning.
According to a report cited in eMarketer, 63.7 percent of internet users in the U.S. will use social networks in 2011. This is a huge number of new prospects for business. EMarketer reported that four in five U.S. businesses (with at least 100 employees) will take part in some sort of social media marketing this year, up from just 42 percent as recently as 2008. This number is expected to continue to rise, especially in light of related surveys have revealed that as much as 63 percent of small businesses feel as though social networking makes a “significant” impact on their sales and revenue.
Social media has affected almost every industry. Social media conversations happen 24/7. The days of nine to five are long gone. Today there are more than 600 million users on Facebook who are active on the site. Interestingly, the fastest growing demographic is people over forty. More than 300 million people spend at least one hour a day on Facebook and approximately two hundred million people are active on Twitter. There are over 100 million use LinkedIn and what is so amazing about this is that in the year 2000, none of these social networks existed.
Why do top leaders like the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitinn Nohria use social networks? Because they provide a way to communicate in real time to the audiences they want to reach. The beauty of social networking is that a message can be written anytime, anywhere and be shared with those people who are interested without the need for voicemail or email. Another great part of the social media is that there is no hierarchy to get through. On the social network scene, everyone is equal. What a sobering thought.
Social media has certainly changed business and changed the way we communicate. I for one like the old fashioned way of networking, talking to people face to face and using the old fashioned telephone. Guess I am somewhat like Andy Rooney, I like the old way of doing things, talking to people in live conversation one on one. Guess that is why I still go to networking meetings, coffee meetings and mixers. It is not that I don’t love the social media sites, it is just that I prefer the personal touch. Social media is here to stay and has its place in business but nothing will replace the human touch of a hand or the sound of soft words. Now I guess if you don't agree, you can always post that on Facebook. Hmmmmmm, that is hard fact to face.
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