Social Media From Risky Business to Marketing Boom

Why Learning Social Media and Internet Marketing is a Skill you need to Develop even if you are not an active Online Business Owner - Social Media - Mobile Phone

I still remember, about 10 years ago it was considered somehow risky to have a social network account where your employer might someday spot something you said that he/she didn't agree with. The next step, at that point, was the unemployment line. Although you may still have to have some judgment about what you write online, many employers have come to see social networking as normal where their employees can also serve as an unofficial marketing force to generate good will, sales exposure, and better profits. 

But, what has caused this massive shift in perception where online social networking is becoming an important strategy for the new business world?

The Impact of the Internet on Advertising

Mainly, it's been the consolidation of the Internet as a major news, media, and information resource for the average consumer that has changed how companies view social networking. In the past, big companies devoted massive amounts of money to advertising spots on television, radio, and in print to get the type of exposure that is now easily available to any new entrepreneur in the marketplace via the Internet. 

Meanwhile, the influence of television, newspapers, and the radio has decreased in proportion to the same amount the Internet has taken on the same role. As marketplaces become more global, it's important that companies have an online presence, and this is working for them to bring in new customers just as television, print, and radio used to do before.

The original wave of online business activity (the Dot Com era) focused most of this activity on creating websites that attracted potential traffic via major search engines. This was a centralized approach, much like a company publishing its own newspaper for others to read. Companies had complete control over what went on at their websites, and they continued to do business in a centralized fashion until other types of sites wrestled the harness from their hands. 

The Internet has made it so easy for consumers to connect with each other and to tell each other what the real scoop is on different products and services that soon have emerged review sites and entire platforms that rated everything from restaurants, to trip ticket services, to apartment complexes, and the like. 

This way, consumers who already bought these products or services could relay the experience of ownership to others without the potential customer needing to rely on a selling entity to tell him/her about the product. This brought about a huge democratization of information related to price, quality, and ownership experience that was previously impossible to determine for the average consumer, and it has influenced his/her buying behavior.

Now, companies were faced with the unenviable task of trying to control information on other sites that might talk about their products or services in an attempt to influence public opinion in a positive fashion. 

Amazingly, it took them a while to understand the user experience and only recently have companies begun to take the force of public media on the Internet seriously, as it impacts their bottom lines. 

Yet, they clearly have no control over what people post on other sites, and rather than suing people left and right for libel or slander (which brings a backlash of negative publicity on the business and highlights the particular issue that they may want hidden), they began to see that if the same group behavior is nurtured in positive fashions, it can actually lead to more business from online word of mouth. 

And this is one of new skills being search for like gold and where social networking comes in.

The power of Online Word of Mouth

When you want to find a good mechanic or the best laptop computer for your soon-to-be college student, what do you do? If you are like most people, you might decide to ask your friends first or relatives what brand and best price possible. 

Why do we do things like this? It's simple. As a customer, you want to go somewhere that you trust. We trust our friends and relatives because we already know these people. 

The next best option is someone who is completely objective and who has nothing to gain or lose from recommending a business they've already used and can vouch for to be trustworthy. 

That, obviously, will not be the said business in question. We know that if we go to a salesperson for a particular business, their job is to sell us on some product or service, whether it's what we need or not. That's their job, and for that reason, they are typically not trusted to give one a trustworthy recommendation.

With this, more and more social networking groups have appeared for user-generated ratings and comments on everything from Web content to mainstream media stories from around the Internet.  For example, is a sites that allows users to rate their favorite stories and products, and those with the most “thumbs ups” get front-page coverage on the site. 

The Next Step: Connect Users

Now that people has found out that connecting with others generates real value in their lives, in the form of shopping, information, and resources that others could locate and point them to, it was only natural to just connect the users themselves and see what came from that action.

Enter giant which main function is connecting users and with that several things have become obvious to marketers ad online advertisers. Social networks are clustered into highly defined demographics, a boon to the business that wants to market to a specific group of people. 

Social networks let people ask about any product or service, not just the main one that is being reviewed on a particular site. People gathered into close-knit groups of friends, followers, or fans, and these groups offered a great opportunity to market and to create positive press for a company's products or services through online word of mouth. 

Buying Influence

The currency of trade on social networks is influence, not money. Companies can get online and advertise all they want, but most people on social networks don't want to be spammed and will drop a connection that tries to directly promote a business product or service in an online version of the hard sell. 

Not only that, but these same people will then go tell all of their friends that you are either a spammer or a fraud, and their friends will drop you too, all in a mini-second. Clearly, trying to ram one’s products and services over the online airwaves of social networks is a futile and counter-productive proposition for businesses. 

It doesn't get them larger influence, and it actually destroys their credibility. In order to make a sale online, they have to engender trust, and that is why influence becomes very important to cultivate in manners that are less commercial and more socially beneficial.

Make no mistake about it. The very same companies that years ago fired people for posting an unconventional photo on Facebook are actively seeking people who can have the same influence on their company brand, but in positive manners. For that, they now want to find people with good social networking skills, a large network, and a voice that they can control. 

In essence, since they can't create this type of influence with their company brand on a social network without the contribution of the social network managers and Internet Marketers who are going to rate them, they are going to try to find major players on the social networking sites to buy the influence that they can't directly create. 

If you are trying to get into Internet Marking or simply want to increase your influence in any field, it can pay to upgrade your social networking skills and increase your presence across social networks. It just might give you the edge you need to beat out the competition.

Never Give Up!