In the 90s we talked about how internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, our work life and personal life – in a nut shell it changed our lives. Fast forward this by a decade and we have seen another revolution – advent of social media – a platform(s) where people come together to generate and read content. The explosion of this media is primarily driven by people’s interest in sharing information about their lives and at the same time the intrinsic nature of snooping around. In the below infograph you can see the timeline of social media and the number of people on these platforms…
With social media coming into picture it had shaken the very fundamentals of marketing and information sharing mechanism – in a nut shell information generation, collection and dissemination. In the good old days – there were agencies which produced content, did some analysis about the readability of the content and then released to the public for consumption. There was a time lag between these phases and people were happy in these kinds of scenarios. Now in the social media there are two fundamental shifts – information can be generated by anyone and there are multiple channels to distribute this content and the second shift is the instantaneity of the information. For example when a plane was being landed onto Hudson river there were live updates from a passenger using twitter – this kind of sown seeds for Arabic Spring and other revolutions.
On the two dimensions: content generation and time factor, let us analyze the impact on marketing from a small business perspective.
Content Generation: I call social media a great leveling player as in the good old days to generate quality content it was expensive and was beyond the reach of small businesses. But that changed completely – now small businesses can engage their customers effectively in order for them to generate content which is far more effective (again remember people are more self centered and content generated by customers will have more traction). For example using Instagram a restaurant can create an online menu using pictures that would better help the restaurant market itself (a picture is worth 1000 words).
Time Factor: Content is king and content which is timely makes it all the more relevant. This is one of the factors that makes Twitter a powerful tool as it provides live updates. Now combine this factor with geo-location: ability to offer timely content based on the location of the customer makes it all the more powerful.
Small businesses have to concentrate on these two factors when coming up social media strategy – getting content generated by customers and generating them on a timely fashion.