In November 2010 a hiker going to Rome was greeted by her airline company and then given a watch to track her distance and walking speed. The gift was part of KLM surprises, a social media campaign which greeted customers by name and provided them with personalised gifts. The campaign, which hit 1,000,000 impressions on Twitter was organised by KLM, one of the world’s largest airlines, which was not even confident that social media can work for them before that.
Social media is changing the media landscape. While before frequency and gross rating points were used to build a brand’s image and traditional media marketing was confined to a one to many interactions, now social media is fast becoming a one to one conversation in which the consumer has the final word.
The change in the focus from traditional to social media has been a sign of a change in the times. Web 2.0 led to a shift from the individual to communities, from companies to consumers, from publishing to participation, from push to pull. It provided a platform for anyone to create, share, collaborate and communicate, without needing any specialist skills.
Social media is a conversation open to everyone. It’s a whole new level of innovative approaches and opinions that can be tapped into. The rise of online communities proves that – technology forges connections and satisfies a basic human desire for communication. As compared to the radio and TV which have respectively taken 38 and 13 years to reach 50 million users, it took only 9 months for Facebook to reach 100 million users. And only 11 years to reach every seventh person on our planet – recording 1 billion active daily users on 27th August 2015. And the impact of social networks on businesses is considerable – irrespective of a company’s decision whether to engage in the conversation or not.
What makes new media different from old media is the so called “choice and control” or interactivity factor. Television is passive, linear and time-constrained. New media is open-sourced, non-linear and interactive. Old media, such as publishing, requires a printing press and is limited in terms of circulation. Television or radio broadcasting are also dependent on a sophisticated equipment to transmit signals to other cities, countries, regions or worldwide. Social media, on the other side, requires only a good internet connection.
According to State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012 by Nielsen the consumer decision making journey is being influenced by social media on a global scale. Based on the report 30% of online consumers in the Middle East and African region as well as 29 % in the Asia-Pacific use social media daily to inform themselves on different brands, services or products and another 30% do the above on a weekly basis.
Harnessing social media is providing more opportunities for businesses to achieve impact with the ability to influence customers spreading across almost all consumer categories. In 2012 increased percentage of social media users were complaining about brands and services at least once a month – 50 % more than in 2011. With respect to businesses, an IBM study claims that 85 % of users say social networks influence their purchasing decisions, confirming the adage that customers are an organisations’ most important asset.
Indeed, with the advance of social media communities are becoming more powerful. The power is being transferred. Now individuals and not PR and marketing communication departments share opinions, facts and myths about brands with social networks and other social media allowing them to do so without ever asking for a company’s permission to do so.