Meaning and Important Concepts
We Humans are essentially social animals. Communication and interaction is vital for the Human society. People love to socialize and interact with one another. Internet technology has changed the way the people communicate. Gone are the days when one had to write a letter or book a telephone call to speak to a friend or relative living across the country. Today technology enables one to be in touch with friends and family across the globe instantaneously.
Look at any individual’s lifestyle today. Most often you will find people spending over two to three hours every evening on the internet chatting with friends and communicating with likeminded people. People of all ages tend to find social networking sites that deal with the subject of their interest and follow the conversations happening there. Internet being a global phenomenon, you will find people from all over the world coming together to talk and share information about their particular topic of interest. It had never been easier that this to make friends and socializing over the internet.
When we talk of social networking we are not just referring to the chatting and other blogs and forums where people discuss certain topics. We seem to be using the social media for sharing videos, movies, music, photos and all of the information that one would want to share. Millions of viewers log into You Tube to view the latest movies, clippings etc. every minute. Similarly millions are logging into face book searching for friends online and sharing information about self with friends all the time. Flickr happens to be the most favorite site for photo sharing.
When you want to know the definition or meaning of a particular word or a topic, what do you do?. It is quite likely that you will check out the Wikipedia or Encyclopedia sites online. If you follow the history of Wikipedia, it best describes the growth and power of social media. Wikipedia is a site that allows anyone and everyone to contribute topics, explanations and definitions at its site. The information so provided can be reviewed by those interested and anybody can comment or provide corrections as well as further explanations. Thus the topics are built, reviewed, changed and reformed through the collective effort of people who are interested in the particular topic. This is perhaps the best example of social media network where people come together to discuss, deliberate, communicate and create content that is useful to one and all.
When you look at the social media marketing websites from the eyes of the marketing companies, one gets to see a huge potential waiting to be explored. Social media networks represent markets and customers who are online and listening. With captive audience being available, marketing companies can reach out to the prospective customers and help build opinion about their products and services as well as initiate discussion about their products with the help of those who are interested as well as those who have been customers of the company. Marketers can learn a lot and get real feedback about their product and experiences from the customers online and besides initiate interest in others who are watching and following the topic.
Social media marketing is a phenomenon and this is a medium that no marketing Organization can afford to ignore or be absent from.
Social Media Characteristic Aspects
Internet has changed people’s lifestyle as well as habits. Primarily every human being has a need and wish to communicate with others and exchange information, ideas, news etc. Internet has enabled people to connect and communicate with not only one’s family, but with people across the world. Truly internet has erased the boundaries between nations.
The participation from community of people and society at large has provided impetus to the growth of Social Media Network. There is hardly anybody who is not participating in one or the other type of social media, be it exchanging emails, using chat or posting photographs and exchanging music etc.
With the increasing number of online community participation, the social media network has become a major medium that is being explored by Marketers, who find it the most effective way of getting closer to the customers and getting to know the customers. Marketers have dual advantage in the fact that they are able to get in touch with those who have already become their customers and experienced their products as well as those prospective customers who might be inclined to or may be influenced to buy the product.
Social media when compared to traditional news media is different in several fundamental aspects.
Unlike the traditional media where the readers or viewers are passive participants, social media network is one place where the customers as well as ‘would be’ customers are actively participating and exchanging information, sharing experience, giving their opinion and reviews based on their understanding as well as experience. This means that the markets are able to interact with the customer in ‘real time’ basis and benefit from the communication. The Organization actually gets to ‘listen’ to the customer and understand more about the customer’s perception about the brand as well as the product etc. The social media channels help build collective opinion and precipitate healthy discussions about the relevant topics.
Second important feature is that social media network spread across variety of channels and medium as compared to the limited channels that print and news media operate with. Social media network operates with several tools including audio, video, text, audio pods, and private forums, public discussion boards, SMS, chatting, emails as well as blogging etc.
Thirdly, social media network is a dynamic, flexible medium that keeps changing interms of content, tools and keeps evolving all the time. As the participants keep giving inputs and the collective wisdom of the group results in change and up-dation of the content as well as creates demand for more tools to be made available.
Fourthly, social media network calls for a different kind of participation from the marketers. Unlike the traditional media where marketers run campaigns and customer designed advertisements focused on a particular audience or group, social media network enables the participants to steer the discussion and the marketers are required to do more of listening than leading the discussion. Marketers have got to approach the prospective customers in a indirect fashion by helping to build public opinion and then indirectly steer them towards taking an interest in your product.
Social media network is evolving at a very fast pace and in line with faster changing technology tools that are being made available. Marketers have got no option but to tune in with the media, understand how things work and make sure they are present. Not being present in the social media networks in the current times is not an option for marketing companies.