From the telegraph to the World Wide Web, human efforts have been always directed to relate, engage and communicate better with one another. Having rapidly picked up pace in recent times, technology and advancements in accessible communication have brought about a culture shift that is not confined to any territorial borders. In the midst of this revolution, the one thing that continues to remain unchanged universally is our human nature and the need to be around the people we relate to and have things in common with. Social media is the technological manifestation of this basic human need to stay connected and be happy.
The Big shift
Historically, business was not just a way to make money, but added a qualitative aspect to people’s lives in and around their community. The prosperity of a business depended largely on word of mouth. The scenario completely changed when big businesses entered the game and profit took priority over livelihood. Business was dictated by ROI and how to improve one’s stock options. However, today a change has come about via the internet and is further catalysed by social media.
Coupled with the fact that 86% of consumers do not trust traditional forms of advertising, social media has forced businesses to re-imagine their tools, roles and strategies. Social media is a means to an end in proliferating engagement amongst people, as is evidenced by the fact that more than 39% world population share their lives online. Businesses have now been presented with a location agnostic opportunity via social media to make personal connections with their customers . This, in a way pushes businesses out of their comfort zones and helps them evolve in unexpected ways.
Word Of Mouth + Technology = SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media has bought back ‘word of mouth’ at an accelerated pace and has put the power back in the hands of the people. Consumers are now capable of taking on businesses if necessary, without the fear of being ignored. The consumer’s voice is making companies more responsible for their actions and has led to them needing to be responsive to a certain extent. Previously, one heard of bad customer service no more than twice as often as they did praise for good service or a good experience. Now, negative social media buzz can spread like wildfire across numerous newsfeeds in a short amount of time. The acoustic guitar of a famous Canadian singer Dave Carroll was once damaged by baggage handlers at United Airlines. The angry musician responded by releasing a video titled ‘United Breaks Guitars’ which was viewed over four million times. The airlines eventually offered to pay the cost of repairing his guitar and flight vouchers worth $1,200.
From Monologues To Dialogues: The Brand And The Consumer
Damage control shouldn’t be the only reason that businesses turn to social media. If used proactively and effectively, social media can turn into the number one tool for a business to build a real relationship with its customers and be more human than ever. The real-time feedback that various social media platforms provide both businesses and consumers is a tool for meaningful engagement. Due to social media, a consumer today, is open to having a dialogue with brands, not just to complaint or praise them, but also but to offer opinions and feedback. Such interactions are invaluable for businesses to modify future strategies and business models. AT&T’s #BeTheFan campaign was one such interactive campaign that ran across Twitter, Vine & Instagram. The results boasted some impressive numbers that included an 80%-plus higher engagement rate on Twitter and a total participation of 200 million consumers on all platforms combined.
A Relationship Meant To Last
Relationships and connections made on social media are impacting big and small businesses, alike. Social media has now made it possible for businesses to make friends with the consumer, thus improving the odds of them doing business together for a long time. With social media playing an increasingly important role in everyday life, brands can avail new methods to engage with the constantly connected consumer world. In an attempt to reinforce the brand and what it stands for, a leading life insurance company launched a heart-warming campaign that focussed on key benefits around care and protection. To further engage its customers on its social channels, the company launched an impressive video app, developed by Germin8 solutions. The bank’s YouTube channel saw increased subscriptions and more than 20000 unique visitors in a month as a direct result of this app. Through this campaign, the bank was able to foster a two-way interaction through social media by thinking in terms of customer relationships rather than customer transactions.
By integrating social media into the marketing mix, businesses can leverage its power to meet, understand and exceed customer expectations, while growing the reach of their target audience and building brand advocates.
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