“Hello, Twitizens! Bloggys, Pinteresters, and LinkedInners and Wazupians, Facebookans”.
Previously I tried to shock you into waking up to social media by telling you that Facebook had 500 million users, and I said that as a business you couldn’t afford to ignore this social platform.
That number has now grown to 800 million, and at this rate, Facebook will match the population of China in a year or two.
The net has spawned so many new ways of doing business, and that is causing quite a bit of disruption in the traditional forms of tourism.
It is almost as if we are learning new rules of engagement. I prefer to call this process disintermediation.
It is what happens when products are sold to consumers via online sites, without going through the traditional channel of supplier to inbound wholesaler to retail agent to consumer.
So I ask — If we are moving towards an era in which the wholesaler becomes redundant, are we also moving towards an era in which decisions are based on price alone?
If that is so — what is going to happen to the quality which we pride ourselves in providing?
The modern businessperson is no longer prepared to wait for information especially since mobile social media gives us immediate access to the latest information — about price and availability.
It lets us compare and review products immediately. One thing that an organisation facing this kind of redundancy could do is to engage with customers on an emotional level.
Guests want to be treated for who they are; they want to feel welcomed, important, noticed. And this is what social media has done: it’s taken the statistics out of marketing, and, for the first time ever, finally put the humanity into it.
Through these social platforms, the old web has been left behind and now, it is a conversation you have with your customers.
Which is why it is not only important to listen to what they say but how you reply makes all the difference.
It is important to reply because not responding to a review is like listening to a guest in your lobby and then silently turning your back on them.
You would not do it by the reception, so why do it online? But, of course, you don’t need to respond to every review.
Still, I would suggest that how you decide to respond is a good indication of your product’s humanity — and today’s Internet users could see that.
I have some few statistics to prove this — Twitter processed an average of 27 million tweets every day in 2011, which is eight times more than it handled in 2010.
If you think these figures are crazy, then watch out for the 2012 statistics to be released soon.
Then when it comes to travel, 73 percent of Asians search the net before they buy.
A long-term survey by Ogilvy PR Worldwide revealed that more than 90 percent of Hong Kong’s 18- to 30-year- olds used social media every single day in 2006.
By 2008, that number had climbed by almost 100 percent. Also the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2010 report “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18-Year-Olds” reckoned that “kids are leading the world’s transition to digital media.
“This is in part because kids aren’t afraid of technology and in part because kids haven’t spent years getting used to anything else.”
So you see why social media is the biggest challenge to traditional marketing! Traditional marketing is like a Model T Ford — attractive but quaint.
Mind you, it is not only social media — it’s social media by mobile. Technology forecasters are already telling that by 2014 we’ll be using more Internet on our mobiles than on our desktops.
This year Google predicts that 8 percent of mobile users will book their travel on phones or tablets in 2012.
All of this is changing our daily habits because the mobile/social net is personal, touchable, instant, shareable, sticky, largely free, cross-device and cross-platform, linked to the physical, location-aware, and — never forget this — transactional.
If you don’t know what any of that means, you are definitely a Model T that Henry Ford said: “You can paint it in any colour you like, so long as it’s black.”
The very nature of social media means that it will always be changing and reinventing itself.
Just as fashions change and technology improves, so will social media marketing.
Facebook and Twitter may have been popular for some time now, and quite possibly will be around for some time to come, but look at MySpace and Bebo, and who remembers Friends Reunited?
If you find a site that works for you then great, but be aware that your audience may soon find another and move on.
As with anything, there are many advantages and disadvantages of social media.
Make sure that you reap the benefits by being aware of the problems.
The more sites you sign up to, the more work it takes.
If you are not careful you could easily spend hours every day moving from social network to social network updating statuses, replying to comments, accepting new requests, or just reading comments.
What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of social media for your business? Let’s talk or email me.
Till next week, May God richly bless.
- Shelter Hamandishe-Chieza is a Management Consultant. She holds over a decade of management experience and is in the final stages of a Management of Business Administration Degree with a reputable local university. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org