Friday, March 11, 2011

The Rise of Social Media

Does anyone find it strange that we, as a race, seem to always be fascinated by new things? Throughout history, we can track how technological advancements have changed our culture. With the invention of the printing press, we were able to work towards widespread literacy. The rise of the computer gave birth to a new information age, revolutionizing our entire way of life. Soon to follow was the upsurge of the internet, which enabled us to begin sharing information to anyone that was connected to the mainframe. Technology has been developed which, two generations ago, would have existed in a science fiction novel. And yet, we still continue to evolve in the way we share information. The term “social media” cropped up in recent years to characterize web-based and mobile technologies that allow users to interact with one another instantly. These innovations have paved the way to a new information age, one which many would claim as the age of social media. We now find ourselves inundated by social media, and its very presence is changing the way we perceive the world. How important is social media, particularly in the field of marketing?

From a marketer’s point of view, you want to learn as much as you can about your customers. So, what’s not to like about social media? Social media has become the number one activity on the internet. It is also one of the cheapest and most effective methods of gathering information. Like Gordon Gekko once said, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” Technology exists that can place a “cookie” – a small hidden program that resides in a computer’s hard drive, which can continuously collect data on a computer user’s internet experience. Every time someone visits a webpage on the internet, a server somewhere in the world is recording his or her actions. There is a wealth of information on the internet, and with the proper application, marketers will be able to utilize social media to make their jobs much easier.

I like to think of marketing as a game of Texas hold ’em – you will never have complete information, and you don’t always know exactly what’s going on in the other players’ (customers’) mind. But what if you had an ability to look at one of each player’s cards? You would obviously have more information, and be able to make a more accurate decision on your play – this is what social media represents. As a marketer, social media can be utilized as a tool to help you accomplish your goals. Never before has this type of technology been accessible to marketers – being able to know what people are searching for, what web pages they are visiting, what their friends are recommending, the list goes on and on. So go ahead, and take a peek at the cards. Oh, and don’t worry – soon, everyone will be doing it. The rules of the game have changed.


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