Social media has taken information dissemination to new heights; this Web 2.0 phenomenon has transformed people from content consumers into content creators. Social media has modernized the business world. Businesses are now able to reach consumers faster, cheaper and with more consistency.
Companies are utilizing social media to reach old customers, gain new ones and build or maintain credibility and reputation among consumers. Smart companies are also using the real time component of social networking to enhance customer service and support.
The Internet has brought power back to the people, because of the reach and breadth of consumer opinions and reviews, brands must now interact with individuals in a more personalized and hands-on way. Technology has given word of mouth marketing a bullhorn, creating a new viral tool for effective business marketing and sales. Social networking is not only a way for businesses to interact with consumers but also a source of networking and communication between people.
At the top of the social media pyramid are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. With users in the hundreds of millions, these sites have become household names. Where in the past families turned on the television for news and entertainment, they are now booting up their hard drives or pulling out their smart phones.
* Facebook has surged past Yahoo as the No. 2 most popular site in the United States, drawing nearly 134 million unique visitors in January.
* Facebook has more than 400 million users and says that 50 percent of the active users log into the site each day. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and Facebook users collectively share 3.5 billion pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) each week.
* More than 700,000 local businesses have active pages on Facebook.
* Facebook is going mobile, with more than 65 million users accessing the site through mobile-based devices. Users who access Facebook through mobile devices are almost 50 percent more active than those who don’t.
* Twitter has 75 million user accounts, with only 15 million accessing Twitter on a regular basis. This is still an incredible increase from the estimated 6 million to 10 million global users from a few months ago.
* LinkedIn has more than 50 million members worldwide, with an increase of around 1 million members month-on-month since July/August last year.
* 15 percent of bloggers spend 10 or more hours each week blogging, according to Technorati‘s new State of the Blogosphere.
* 70 percent of bloggers are organically talking about brands on their blog.
* 38 percent of bloggers post brand or product reviews.
Businesses that join the conversation on the social, business and review sites are propelling their brand forward, while those who do not participate will be left behind. As we can see from the continued growth rates of all of these sites, the question is not when will this phenomenon end, but where will it go next. Facebook is showing us that the future is on the move, socializing, networking, content sharing and brand conversations are going mobile.
As the Blackberry allowed many professionals to step out of the office, the iPhone is bringing people out of their homes and together on the road. The next big development we are seeing is location-based service applications and augmented reality. This push to bring as much information, entertainment and real-time functionality to mobile devices means that businesses will have to be social and mobile.
Mobile marketing will involve having a Web presence and marketing platform that is accessible by the more than 270 million mobile users. Businesses will also need to start considering a mobile commerce plan, taking the form of coupons or advertising directed at customers based on their current location.
The people have spoken and what they want is more access, more information and more control. The longer businesses wait to go to the customers, the harder it will be to get them to come to you. It’s time to get out there and get the conversation started. People love to talk about brands, but only do it when they remember to. If you are not there to give them a reminder, the competition will be. See you on the Web.