In the spirit of the election, I felt that it might be appropriate to speak to the nature of communication and how it has evolved over the course of humanity (for those of you who are living under a rock and didn’t realize that the election is coming, consider yourself lucky having been saved from the onslaught of political rants and opinions blowing up your Facebook and Twitter feeds). By communication, I’m not referring to the evolution of interaction in the linguistic sense, but rather how the spread of communication via media and news has evolved over the years.
Over the last decade, this has been mainly perpetuated by the Internet and the rise of social media and has since transformed Paul Revere’s midnight ride from the old school means of communication into a colossal social media monster, tweeting the words, “@Samuel Adams The British are Coming! #notcool #sonsofliberty #hideyoguns."
What used to take days and sometimes weeks to traverse a landscape via horse and buggy, is now tweeted within seconds to millions of people all over the world. If Mt. Vesuvius were again to lay its vengeance upon the inhabitants to Pompeii, the rest of the world would be almost instantaneously informed of the tragedy. This is the new means of communication that has the ability to travel great distances with just the click of a mouse.
If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “Well, that’s all pretty cool, but how does this affect my daily life and business?” Know that this type of communication can also be applied to how consumers react and interact with companies. Have you ever had a horrible experience at your local coffee shop? Or maybe you just got hosed by your mechanic on that new transmission installation. Where do you turn? In the days before social media, you may have told some friends or complained by writing a nice letter to the manager of the establishment, but that was most likely the end of it. Short of never going back, you had no retribution as a consumer to tell the world how you felt.
Enter your good friend, Facebook, someone that always listens. Now you have the ability to almost immediately share your disgust with 500+ people--whether they care or not. If you just went to see a new movie and were super excited about it, why not let the Facebook and Twitter community know about it? This may have the ability to compel someone in the crowd to see a movie that they may have been skeptical about.
This same principle is also applicable to communicating with companies directly. What used to be calling a toll free number and speaking with a “customer service representative” that didn’t really care about your complaint, has now transformed into a direct line of communication to the company. There have been numerous cases where a consumer has taken the time to write directly on the timeline of a company’s Facebook wall and received an almost instantaneous response from the business (and not just anybody, somebody that is paid to monitor consumer feedback via social media platforms). Reactive public relations capabilities such as these are a company’s dream.
So the next time you feel like knocking social media as a fad or trend, think again. This is more than just a means of solidifying your online presence and building a stronger brand, it is an open communication line to your customers (a.k.a. the people that keep you in business) and the future of consumer marketing.