Kavin Paulson, editor-in-chief of The iMarketing Café, is the author of this post ‘Is Social Media a Revolution or Hype?’ This post was submitted to various reputable article sites on 11 June 2010 and was published on different dates during the month of June 2010, since then the article has been re-published on various blogs and websites ( edited and unedited ). Some sites where this post was originally submitted, have removed this article for unknown reasons, but the article is still live on few other sites. Due to the popularity and ageless relevance of the post and to prevent this good article getting vanished from the web, The iMarketing Café team decided to republish this post here. Below this post, you can find links to the source sites where this post was originally submitted / published.
Note: It’s a two year old post, so the facts and figures might have changed till now, though ideas and thoughts remain the same and interestingly most of the predictions have become true today.
A marketer’s perspective-
Well, Business is marketing, as the business gets more and more challenging in today’s global world and dynamic markets, marketing is also becoming more complex, the process called marketing has been changing, getting new dimensions and the process is becoming more challenging than ever before. Marketing is challenging, so is promotion, an important ‘p’ of the marketing mix. There are a set of promotional tools used by companies worldwide to promote products and services. A new addition to this set of promotional tool kits is social media.
There have been a lot of debates going on about social media and its influence over consumers. A few sections call it a revolution, which is going to play a vital role in the modern world, and advocate that it will influence the consumer perceptions and ultimately the buying process. On the other side, a few sections call it hype, a fad. Let’s analyze both the arguments to come to a conclusion.
A recent compilation made by socialnomics.com from various sources has revealed some stunning facts about social media which most of us would have never imagined. Well, I do not want to show the full compilation; (readers can refer the site for complete details). Here are a few compelling facts. 96% of millennial have joined a social group network. Face book tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. Social media has overtaken pornography as the no.1 activity on the web. Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year. iPod application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months.
If facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest. 80% of companies use social media for recruitment. Some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts; instead they are distributing eReaders, ipads, Tablets. What happens in Las Vegas stays on facebook, twitter, kohtakte, flickr, you tube. 39% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands. 24 of 25 largest Newspapers are experiencing record decline in circulation. 60 million status updates happen on facebook daily.
There is absolutely no denying the fact that social media has gained a significant amount of popularity among the consumers around the world. What social media has accomplished over the years is that, it has successfully connected consumers all around the world; today consumers are in a better position to discuss about products and services, exchange information and ideas. Today consumers are well informed than ever before. A person can get reviews from people about a product or service within no time through social media conversations and contacts. Consumers are in a position to make better choices. As Eric Qualman, socialnomics.com says ‘we don’t have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it’. But in spite of all the facts and figures that show the importance of it. Is it appropriate to call it a revolution? That is the central point of discussion.
Definitely not, say a few sections, calling it hype. According to a report from online researchers Knowledge networks titled ‘How people use social media’ which suggests that it’s effect on the population, is vastly overrated. Though its popularity is high, with 83% of the online population now using it in some form and half of the online population doing so on a regular basis, reports MarketingVOX.
Despite its popularity, social network platforms like facebook, twitter and other similar social networks have failed to demonstrate prowess as marketing tools and possibly never will, says the report. Knowledge networks ranked the value of social media advertising at the bottom of the ranking, below word of mouth recommendations and TV advertising.
Further the report says, it can most likely influence the consumption of media-related products and services like books, movies, TV shows and music. Less than 5% of the social media users regularly visit such networks for guidance on purchase decisions and only 16% say they are more likely to buy products and services after seeing ads on social sites. Social media users mostly not turning to it for marketing purposes or to find product information but to connect with friends and other people says SVP-group Account Director Dave Tice. According Tice, only 1% of the population ever used Twitter. It is still a minor part of the media and personal mix that consumers use to make decisions concludes knowledge networks.
So, finally, is it a revolution or hype? Well, the emergence of social media is a very recent phenomenon, there is no doubt it has gained so much popularity and wide acceptance within a short period of time, which itself is a landmark in the history of mankind, moreover they involve people, that is it’s the biggest strength, marketers go where people go, involve themselves wherever people are involved, in short, marketing is people centered, in that case a platform like social media where millions of people meet, discuss and exchange ideas, thoughts and information, would definitely attract marketers, and looking at its popularity , it is definitely not a hype, rather I would say, it is in the growth phase and still to go a long way to take the place of other powerful promotional tools existing today. Undoubtedly, social media is one of the powerful promotional tools which will influence business, people and markets across the world in the future.
Is it a revolution? I don’t think so, it is gaining popularity day by day, it is the current trend, and the trend will not be short lived, because it is in its growth phase and gaining importance and will go a long way, now, what seems to be just social platform for friendship and social connect, will one day serve as a platform for people to discuss anything and everything, politics, business, technology, products, services, of course all kinds of discussions take place today, the same will happen tomorrow in a large scale. A time will come when people will ask review from people from all over world through social network before purchasing goods and services, but revolution is really a big word, and not suitable to refer social media at least at this point of time.
How marketers use social media does matter, social media, having the number of users and popularity it enjoys today, it is definitely one of the most powerful promotional tools, but, one needs to understand that it is a promotional tool, if you think it can drive sales and help you earn profits within a short period of time like other promotional tools like advertisements, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations and publicity, then you are making a mistake. Social media is a tool for long term promotion, it helps you to connect with people, create brand awareness, provide product and service information, change consumer perceptions regarding your brand, helps you inform the consumers about your new launches and create a buzz about it. It is more like a communication plus promotional tool, which can definitely bring you long term benefits and don’t forget, it is the cheapest promotional tool out of all the tools used by marketers today. Social media is neither hype nor a revolution, it is a fantastic platform where millions of people meet each other, if your products and services are for humans, and then you ought to be a part of social media.
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