Published - 7th November 2012
When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was check Twitter. Why? I wanted to know who had won the American Presidential race and I knew Twitter would be up-to-date with results. Within 12 hours of President Obama’s record-breaking victory tweet, it had been retweeted almost 700,000 times and seven of the trending topics in London were related to the election. In contrast to this, BBC News’ article had only been shared 32 times.
With almost the entire nation being able to access the internet from home or work it is no surprise that social media is as popular as it is. Add to that the fact that nearly 50% of the population own a smartphone and are able to connect almost anywhere, you can see how vast social media’s potential is.
Social media provides users with an instant update, they don’t have to wait for a newspaper to be printed or lunchtime news broadcasts any more. Tweets and status updates spread faster than even the speediest journalist could imagine, fuelled by the share and retweet buttons on websites.
One of the biggest differences as a result of social media is the platform for users to share their opinions, thoughts and important events in real time. Blogger Chris Pirillo said: “Twitter is a great place to tell the world what you’re thinking”, so if you don’t like a product you can tell the world instantly. It might be that nobody notices it, but it could go viral.
This is why social media is so important to brands. The ability to connect with customers, to sell products and to gather feedback instantly is invaluable. Lowcostholidays.com found itself receiving a great deal of positive publicity at Thomas Cook’s expense on Facebook recently, whereas Waitrose found itself responsible for a disastrous Twitter campaign.
Social media, if used effectively, can be a fantastic marketing tool. It doesn’t suit every brand or business, but for those that can and do use it, it can be invaluable.