Why have social media networks grown so explosively? Unlike the telephone or Internet which began as business communication tools, they were designed for social interaction. They’re the closest thing we have to face-to-face human contact. And they’re as organic as two or three friends meeting at a coffee shop.
Witnessing (wide-eyed, no doubt) the impact social media networking was having on consumer behavior, it didn’t take long before industry and other sectors co-opted it for professional purposes. Smart organizations are seeing the benefits: what better way to establish, retain and grow brand reputation and loyalty than to engage directly with existing and new audiences? Better still, what better way to build customers and audiences than to have them doing your marketing for you? Viral marketing is always the most powerful way to get bottom line results – and the cheapest. If the average Facebook user is connected to 130 friends, and that user mentions your product or service favorably, how much more viral can communication get?
Of course for every benefit, there’s a potential drawback. If that same Facebook user has a bad experience with your product or service and warns their friends about it, your brand can quickly take a beating. Social media networking is a double-edged sword, for sure. But ignoring it is not an option, nor is using it without a plan.