The good old days. We all have seen Facebook posts from nostalgia-loving friends who share about how life was so much simpler back in the day. Yes, we know that your curfew was when the streetlights came on, and yes, we know that kids used to write notes to each other instead of texting.
That doesn’t mean life decades ago was better. Moms today like being able to communicate with their kids at all times. Maybe it would have been too embarrassing to pass that cute boy a note, but not as difficult to send him a text. Life with technology and social media has changed our lives, maybe even for the better. And social media has definitely changed the face of business.
The majority of Americans are now Facebook users. Do you need exact percentages? It’s 68%. More than that use YouTube. What media event receives that following? The Super Bowl, on a good year, brings in 33% of the viewers, and we all know how much advertising costs on that night.
Social media has changed us, and of course, it has changed how business is done. Now your barber down the street is researching online to find a guide to a perfect Facebook cover photo. Your baker is painstakingly fixing the lighting so the picture of her pink lemonade cupcakes will bring in droves of customers. The teenage boy who cuts your grass is advertising on the Nextdoor app.
How has business changed?
Customers have more power than ever before.
You, as a consumer, can leave public feedback on every place you visit. Every gas station, restaurant, department store, and hardware store. You can let everyone know what you think about your school, church, police department, and hospital. People even rate National Parks and local DMV on Yelp. Putting the power back into the hands of the consumer is exciting, but may be scary for business owners.
No manager wants to have an employee get caught doing or saying something embarrassing. What’s scary for a business owner works out well for the consumer. Customer service is king, maybe more now than ever before. Is fear the motivating factor for keeping business owners in check? Probably. But businesses have also received numerous benefits in the age of social media.
Companies have a farther reach.
This is the most exciting aspect of business today. It’s as if the American Dream has been reborn. You don’t have to have tremendous capital to market your product on a national level. It takes very little time to figure out how to sell through Amazon, and through that, your product can take off internationally as well.
Companies can offer real-time customer service.
The other day a friend of mine was visiting a bar. She was having a difficult time getting service, and she became frustrated. She voiced her dissatisfaction through Twitter and immediately heard back from the manager. He came out from the back room of the establishment and offered a free round and free appetizers for everyone at the table. She amended her review because of the actions of the quick-thinking manager.
Using social media for customer service has reached the retail world as well. Many companies encourage questions about products through their social media sites. Even your utility company may offer customer service through Facebook or Twitter.
Businesses have access to abundant data.
Instead of anecdotal data, companies now know precisely who their customers are. They know their relative income, education level, and where they live. A savvy statistician and marketer can take that information and run with it, but the data is only as helpful as the person interpreting it.
Social media allows the business to promote personality.
Every town has that hole in the wall deli. Its bathrooms are disgusting, and the service is slow. Why do we go? Because of the two old Italian brothers who have been running the place for 50 years. They bicker with each other. They roll their eyes and sigh at the customers. We still go there – to see them.
Social media gives the customer the feeling that we get a glimpse into the personalities of companies. We see images of the executives. We see what photos and videos companies share on their social media accounts. A customer can even personally interact with what they assume is the company’s leadership. The company isn’t just a catalog of items for sale. They are selling a feeling – just the same as the two Italian brothers in the neighborhood deli.
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. If you are a business owner, you might as well embrace it.