I can’t tell you the number of times we have heard … “Wow – Technology these days!”. Here’s some more details on the Social Media world.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard the phrase – “Technology these days” – and in my own entry into the Social Media Marketing world, I completely understand the sentiment. While many individuals and businesses already leverage the opportunities it provides, it has begun to leave a large portion of businesses in the dark – struggling to compete or grow. When Tim Berners-Lee created the world wide web in 1989, he could not have realized how far reaching the implications of his introduction, but it heralded a change in the fabric of communication as we knew it. Fast forward 29 years and we are surrounded by social technology – with the average adult now spending over 7 hours a day interacting with varying forms of online media and entertainment – and it’s understandable that many adults just don’t get the obsession. They are calling it the ‘Social Media Phenomenon’, and it’s here to stay. So, what is Social Media, Really?
SOCIAL MEDIA (n): ‘websites and applications that enable users to create and share content, or to participate in social networking.’
First a little history. In village days, merchants had to be extremely active in their small community, providing incredible customer service to create a positive word of mouth – and have fair pricing to boot! Trade knowledge was protected and passed down from generation to generation – until the industrial revolution. Then came the start of the technological revolution – and the ‘Social Media Phenomenon’ as we know it. CompuServe, the first major commercial online service provider, was popular in the 1980’s. It allowed its users to participate in message forums, chat systems, and online games. While revolutionary, it charged its users by the hour and so begun a technological race to develop new platforms. In 1997, the first recognizable Social Media site – Six Degrees – was launched. Named after the age-old saying ‘there is six degrees of separation between any two people in the world’, it’s popularity was short lived. In the following years, technology progressed much further than many could imagine – infiltrating and improving everything it touched.
- In 1998, we saw the introduction of Google.
- In 2004, we saw the introduction of Facebook.
- In 2007, we saw the introduction of Apple’s first Smart Phone.
- And today, we see an entire generation of individuals that could not imagine what life would be without the internet.
On a personal level, Social Media is used for sharing nearly anything – including our birthdays, relationships, or likes, and any pictures, video’s, comments or articles we post to our pages. It connects us to our peers and pushes us to discover similar activities or interests. A large portion of the average 7 hours is spent scrolling through Social Media ‘feeds’ (which is the technological version of reading a newspaper). The type of social media site a person chooses is usually based on the site that their friends or interests are most connected to at the time.
On a commercial level, Social Media has progressed so far that it is now possible for a business to solely rely on these sites to run their entire operations, however, this isn’t yet commonplace. Many simply utilize its capabilities to create social sites that put their brands in front of their chosen audiences, and it can have some seriously far-reaching implications. For a product-based business – online marketing now allows international sales capabilities. Social media sites like Facebook can now host products to sell directly through their platforms – with credit card payment options and international shipping rounding out the product sales process so that personal users can buy and receive products without having to even leave their living rooms. For service-based businesses – online marketing allows for wide-scale customer targeting and lead generation, while simultaneously building the businesses brand.
So while social media might be that pesky thing that your grandkids spend too much time on – this phenomenon can be used as a huge advantage, giving a business the leverage to compete and grow in today’s technological generation. In future blogs, we will do a deep dive into individual social media platforms and how to use them for the great results! So, what is Social Media really? It is the future, and we look forward to helping you take the leap into it!