The Social Media Tsunami
Nobody saw this coming. A few hints were given that something was looming on the horizon, but not to this extent, to this fanfare. It struck suddenly and has pounded down on us with no quarter. In describing the impact of Social Media, the tsunami metaphor works—and mainstream business better be ready to accept it. Rather than being crushed under its immense force, individuals and companies must now learn how to surf—and very quickly. But what exactly triggered this tectonic shift in habit?
Back in the day of no Internet (imagine that!), when companies marketed instead of branded and the traditional portals delivered the message, there were no follow-up opportunities to engage the consumer base. Touchpoints were few and far between. There were limits to the extent that the small- or medium-sized business could promote a product or service. Certainly, the entrepreneur lacked a vehicle through which to promote, weigh in. The emergence of Social Media has wiped all that out in an instant.
Social Media describes the fusion of technology, telecommunications and social interaction with the sequencing of words, text, graphics, symbols, pictures, audio and video. It strikes a harmonic blend of advertising, marketing, public relations and networking to convey concepts and opinions. This volley of interaction plays out in real time on the so-called “Social Networking” platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) and on copious blogs. The messaging ranges from a few simple words to a lengthy discourse. Social Media is more than an interactive forum or a means through which individuals and companies can communicate with clients and potential customers. People morph and reinvent themselves constantly, some even daily. As the scope of a business expands, the social networks offer the most readily available channel through which information can be shared. They are flexible, elastic, easy to maintain and offer opportunities to cultivate relationships that otherwise may have not existed.
Ready or not, Social Media is changing lives and redirecting popular notions about people, places, products, services and all aspects of lifestyle in between. It has permeated the corporate culture. Marketers that bring the subject to the think tank frequently speak about going viral, initiating Social Media strategies or launching Social Media campaigns. There is an all-out assault on the search engines. All these machinations are happening independently from the intact website yet are creating untold visibility for businesses. Reputations are being built and destroyed on blogs. The Social Networking sites are accessible and free. Word of mouth is driving consumerism more than ever before. People are tweeting, chirping, squeaking, squawking and engaging others.
These days, companies are urged not to lead with their left brains but, rather, to be open-minded and, yes, creative in accessing the minds of potential buyers. It’s time to be reactive and adapt to the changing requirements of the marketplace. Yet many in the executive sector remain resistant to the draw of Social Media and choose not to participate. Who has the time? Where is the ROI? Perhaps they feel that it’s a fad and the momentum will die down. But these are large waves rapidly advancing on them ~ with tremendous push~ and failure to respond makes them sitting ducks on the shore.