The Rise of Social Media

Posted: August 10, 2012 in Advertising
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We live in the era of social media today. Our journey to the social metropolis we have today took (believe it or not) 34 years! It all began in 1978 with the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS, created by Ward Christensen during the Great Blizzard in Chicago.

Social media is a global and cultural phenomenon. A primary communication channel to most people today. With Internet access readily available with the help of mobile devices, information can be updated in real-time anywhere. With mobile penetration only going up. We see social media penetration increasing as well. In the Philippines, majority of the social media is consumed through mobile phones. In fact based on a study by Susan Huynh,  by 2016, mobile internet users will exceed PC and laptop internet users.

7 out of 10 people using their mobile phones in the subway in Singapore are on a social app. 9 out of 10 people taking out their phones during a street fight are informing the world. That one last person would most probably be calling the authorities and that is just how our lives have changed.

But how has this impacted the corporations and businesses? No, I’m not talking about the drop in productivity in the office. I’m talking about how has it changed the way advertisers and marketers approach the consumers. The entire media landscape has changed. Its no longer a monologue between brands and consumers, it is now a dialogue.

How are brands handling it?

Even before Facebook allowed anyone to join in September 2006, brands already saw the potential and were advertising on Facebook. A whopping $3.08 billion was spent to advertise on social networking sites in 2011. But does advertising work on social networking sites? Should brands blindly buy banners and textlinks to advertise products? No. Social media doesn’t work like websites or newspapers.

Social media is about building a community and creating brand advocacy. Building positive brand advocacy is not easy but if successful, it would be hard for competitors to replicate. Which explains why only a handful of brands have been successful on social media and I will cover some of such campaigns in my future posts.

The beauty of social media is the data. Social media has opened real opportunities for tracking and understanding human behavior in ways never known before. From advanced targeting and retargeting to segmenting customers, there is just so much data. Brands are now paying business intelligence companies big bucks to analyse this sea of data and to find out what the consumers want. As strategist, Brand Amery said, “A good way to approach data is understand what you’re trying to achieve and what you want the consumers to do, and always place it in context of the bigger picture.”

Social media has another function and that is customer service. Many brands have turned their Facebook walls into customer service channels. Be it rants or compliments, brands can access their relationship with consumers and if possible rectify consumers’ problems. This actually blurs the line between advertising and PR.

Investing in social media, is not just investing in a causal relationship with consumers. It is a very powerful tool for gaining insight into the characteristics of a brand’s target market, a great customer relationship tool, and a great way to build personal attributes to a brand.

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