Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What’s the True Power of Social Media? Part 2

In part one I talked about how the true value of social media is its inherent ability to make people more social – I guess that’s part of the reason they call it social media. Personally, the connections I make and maintain through social media channels – namely LinkedIn and Facebook, enable me to easily stay in touch with friends, family and business associates without making that massive commitment of picking up the phone. Social media’s ability to buffer the possible rejection, eliminate awkward voice mail ramblings, and stay in contact no matter how many phones I lose, makes my life more organized and far more social. I get out more, drink a heck of a lot more coffee, and tip back a few too many goblets of Kettle One, but it’s all in the spirit of human connectivity.

Beyond the resulting impact of real-time connectivity and social interaction, social media’s insurgence has effectively disrupted the very foundations of traditional brand paradigms. [Yes, I had to use paradigms in a sentence today.] The democratization of the publishing world creates an open source discourse around every aspect of culture, including the things we eat, drink, drive, wear, watch, see, experience, interact with and those essentials we don’t want to pay for, but can’t live without. [Insurance anyone?]

Go ahead, Google anything and sift through the results. Or better yet, search your brand on Twitter to see what people are talking about. It’s all out there, warts and all. And the one thing to note is, consumers are far less apt to rant when they’re deliriously satisfied with a product or brand than they are when drenched in dissatisfaction with a product, company or general lack of proactive customer support. Our brands are everything around our products, not just the products themselves and it resonates throughout the company culture, around the water cooler and among the nuts and bolts of the products themselves. Brands have become part of human culture and discourse.

Social media’s power to break down the one-way communication of brand stewardship is being witnessed across industries and business verticals. The companies and brands who embrace the conversation – good and bad – and engage their consumer base are the ones who are winning. Publicly accepting shortcomings, while making real changes in product and policy in order to show people we care is a market-driven approach to success. Through social media, new transformational shifts materialize turning downward curves around and creating blue oceans of opportunity that meet market demands and open brands and companies up to honesty and integrity, eliminating the ‘smoke’ in smoke & mirrors and putting spin doctors out of business.

Call me an idealist.

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