It's a social world out there.

It Began With A Connection.

Posted on: November 1, 2009

Media as we know it has changed. When the internet was introduced twenty years ago, it was consumed largely by those interested in the technology that built it.  It is unlikely this group could have envisioned the social impact that has come from the global connection that is the world wide web.  Social media has changed the way we learn, socialize and communicate. Whether is a high school student chatting on facebook or a college professor blogging a homework assignment – it is making use of social media and it is happening in millions of places around the world at this very moment.

Social media has given consumers more power than they have ever had, it has  changed how people make everyday decisions, how they watch tv, how they research products and services and where they buy products. Retailers of all kinds have been forced to looked to new media for advertising and product promotion.  E. Qualman finds the perfect way to describe the shifts that are being caused by social media in his book, Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. He says:

” We have shifted from a world where the information and news was held by a few and distributed to millions, to a world were the information is held by millions and distributed to a few (niche markets). Open, two-way conversations  are much more effective than unilateral communications to your audience, for politics and business. Social media enables these two-way conversations.  Utilizing free social media tools and placements is more timely and cost effective than traditional advertising.” (1)

Services such as facebook and twitter are often places users will post comments about a recent purchase, dining, or shopping experience.  Since users of these services follow and friends people they know, whether it be in  real-life or virtually, it is likely they trust these people.  Whether it is a simple had a great dinner at X, or just got sick from dinner at Y, friends will take note without even realizing it.  Businesses now need to stay on top of social media in order to respond to both good and bad mentions.

Social media is a medium in which consumers have gained the upper hand, they are now able to review and research products through a simple twitter search, taking only a few seconds. This ease of use consumers find in social media outlets such as twitter have caused bigger search engines like google to want in on the action.  (See http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091026-716031.html) However, it maybe too late.  As Qualman explains, consumers are already heading directly to wikipedia when on a fact-finding mission, or facebook/twitter/myspace for celebrity news. (1) Have consumers become so accustomed to using social media in these instances that google’s attempt at changing this behavior is just a minute too late?  Only time will tell.

These changes in people consumes products, services and media are only the beginning of how social media is changing the world, this is the tip of the iceberg.

1) Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. New York, NY: Wiley.

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