We have seen changes over the past six years that dramatically alter the ways we get news, communicate with friends and share our personal information. And during this time, we have also see a huge change in the way companies and organizations are using social media to communicate with consumers. The major changes include:
- Niche marketing
- Easy access to information
- Engaging consumers
- Impacts on small businesses
Organizations are now changing from large advertising campaigns, to a “small acts” mentality. They are starting to focus more on the consumer directly, rather than targeting a large group. They are using niche markets more than ever, and the internet as a way to reach them. Reaching groups via blogs and online groups make it easier for a brand to reach its target consumer in a more intimate way.
Consumers are seeing a shift in the online world when it comes to finding answers about organizations. Questions that once were hard to find on a site, may now be available and easy to access on multiple sites. For example, before this shift, it would be harder to find current promotions a company was having. Now, the promotions may be featured on the company’s blog, twitter account or Facebook page.
The largest issue at hand is that the more we’re becoming connected with friends, family and colleges, we’re also becoming more connected with brands and organizations. And this is a shift that not many people are conscious of, but participate in. Users who are engaging with the brands may not know it, but they’re shaping the way new campaigns look, feel and how they target consumers.
“More companies are turning to the crowd for ideas on all aspects of their business by creating online public forums. In 2008, Starbucks launched a major initiative to enhance their services with a website called My Starbucks Idea that polls members on decisions that would most directly impact them.” (www.mashable.com)
A benefit of having organizations and companies in the social space is that it makes it easier for smaller businesses to advertise and gain customers. Because the cost of advertising and promotion is so low on these sites, it gives start-up companies a better chance of being noticed. Also, because it’s free to start a page, small companies and organizations have a better way of reaching and communicating with customers.
Companies and organizations being in the social space is something that is new and will grow in years to come. It’s one of the biggest issues on the web because it’s not something customers are 100% aware of yet. Many people don’t associate liking brands on Facebook as advertising, but it’s actually more than advertising. Consumers now have a hand in marketing efforts which they were unable to have before.