Monday, September 7, 2009

What Happened to Good, Old-Fashioned Communication? It Got an Upgrade...

I have a friend who is decidedly anti-social media. As a corporate lawyer, he doesn't see much use for the likes of Facebook and Twitter in his career. But, further, he's fond of saying: why does a business need these things? What ever happened to the telephone and good old-fashioned personal communication?

I understand that mentality. Little more than a year ago I was a magazine editor in an insular industry and I couldn't wrap my head around "social media", especially Twitter. How things have changed in a year... Both for myself and for the entire "social media" realm. According to August statistics for Facebook alone:

  • More than 250 million active users
  • More than 120 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day
  • More than two-thirds of Facebook users are beyond college
  • The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older
  • Average user has 120 friends on the site
  • More than 5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
  • More than 30 million users update their statuses at least once each day
  • More than 8 million users become fans of Pages each day

I am (clearly) now among the converted, as social media marketing and PR efforts have become a major focus of my business at Miamore Communications.

To answer said friend's doubts, I offer up a new Miamore client—an acquaintance from a million (or 10) years ago. We became FB friends through the natural course of social media's viral growth (more scientifically: friends of friends of friends); then she became a Miamore fan. Flash forward two months and here we are, about to start working together. Neither of us probably would have thought of each other again ever if not for social media, much less pick up the phone to reconnect.

And, that's a perfect example of what I always tell clients (especially those who don't quite understand how “social media” is valuable to their businesses): This, in essence, isn't a "new" way of reaching clients. It is the old way, with a new-fangled twist. It is, quite simply, the next generation of word of mouth (here's a great article on that topic). For B2Bs, I equate it to being able to network at an industry trade show event every single day, instead of only twice a year. No longer do you have to buy ads to reach your audience year-round (same for B2Cs), you can, instead, log on to a social network and connect with them directly (much to the chagrin of ad reps and traditional PR people).

Personally, from my own business experiences and the successes of my clients, I am completely confident in saying that social media has changed the nature of business communication forever. And, contrary to a FB post I recently saw, wondering if growing sales via social media was a "trend", I answer: notsomuch… at least not in the colloquial sense. Because as those like me with a fashion background know, things we call “trends” come and go. So, as we witness magazines and newspapers--those vehicles of traditional PR and advertising brand spin--wither and, (sadly) die in increasing numbers; marketing, public relations, brand growth and sales via social media is not so much a trend as an evolution in business. This is the future and, in my opinion, the only way businesses (especially small businesses) will survive moving forward.

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