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Social Media & The Shrinking World


You may remember that I mentioned in my March 28, 2011 post “Review: The Thank You Economy By @GaryVee & An Open Letter To Gary“. In the open letter portion of the post I began by saying:

Really enjoyed your book as it goes in-depth with a concept I have been espousing for quite a while. In fact, I even wrote a blog post about it – although, as I said, not near as in-depth as your book. However, I think the over-arching idea remains the same and that is of the changing nature of the market (due to social media) back to what it was before the 20th Century. I wrote the post long before your book came out and, honestly, before I had even heard your name…although probably while you were writing the book.

The blog I mentioned was taken down and I thought I had lost the post but I didn’t! I found a copy of it on my computer and as such have posted a copy of it below. I have included screen shots of the Properties for the file which is really the best I can do to prove that I wrote the document well before Gary Vaynerchuk‘s book “The Thank You Economy” came out.

The post below has been posted directly from the Word document I had saved on my computer. I have made a few minor edits to it to be honest but I have not inserted any new ideas just changed a few words around to make it flow better. Remember when I mentioned tips for writing and editing? Well, this post was originally written in September so I’ve had 9 months to ‘forget’ what I wrote and now I am re-reading it with ‘fresh’ eyes.

Now back to your originally scheduled post! !!

Social Media & The Shrinking World

Ever since the advent of social media we have made a shift back to the old days of marketing. What days am I referring to? I’m referring to the days that preceded Henry Ford, assembly line mass production, and massive corporations selling to customers nationally & internationally. I’m referring to the days when more of the population lived in the rural areas than lived in cities; pretty much the entire human history except for the last century, give or take.

For most of human history the majority of items we bought were sourced locally. As such, if there were two butchers in town, let’s call them Al and Bob, it paid for Al and Bob to build a relationship with each customer and respond to them and their needs individually. If I got bad treatment or product from Al and decided to tell my family and friends that we should all start going to Bob’s the impact on Al’s business could be substantial. This would be because we were in villages or towns and a couple of people not going to an establishment could really be detrimental to business.

Fast forward to the 20th Century where we bought our items made in cities on the other side of the continent or even a different continent and suddenly corporations didn’t care about your opinion. So what if you told your 20-30 friends how much they angered you by shoddy treatment? To them, you and your friends were not even a drop in the bucket in terms of the overall market of tens or hundreds of millions. As far as they were concerned you could go to one of their competitors but your voice would quickly die out and not spread to their consumers in other cities or even very far within the same city.

Then, the internet happened. We were able to use forums and write reviews and discuss products and companies with people from across the country and internationally but this was still only a small percentage of the people. And even 7-8 years ago what if I did Google a company’s name for reviews? Could I really trust the random people who wrote reviews about a company? Now, however, we have taken the next step and the market has shrunk right back down to the time of the village with the butchers Al and Bob. Our new world which includes social media communities means that we are much more interconnected across cities, countries and continents. It means that on Facebook I am connected with hundreds if not thousands of people who I have met from all sorts of places like a vacation or a trip meaning that suddenly they are connected with someone in a completely different city. Twitter means that anyone pretty much who searches for a specific search term will see mine and anyone else’s thoughts on a company. Blogging means anyone on the internet can share my thoughts – this article even (and please do share it!) with anyone else. Beyond that, if I am a person with influence, people will be following me and see my tweets/blog posts about a company or product. If people think my opinion has value they will retweet my thoughts to their followers and those people will do the same to their followers, etc. Further, other people might chime in and talk about similar (or contrary) experiences they have had with the company.

This brings us back to the village before mass production. We are now in an age where companies must be responsive and present in their marketing and customer service because everyone has a soapbox. Once again, all it takes is a company’s actions towards one or two customers angering them and they start shouting about it on their electronic soapboxes. Soon, word of the company’s treatment of their customers gets spread like a Kanye West meme from coast to coast, continent to continent. One example of this is Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines in early 2010 but you don’t have to be a celebrity. Another prime example of the power of the social web and blogging is George Vaccaro, the guy who recorded a customer service call with Verizon in December 2006. You can listen to the 27 minutes of amusement as George tries to explain to different Verizon reps the difference between “point zero zero two dollars ($0.002)” and “point zero zero two cents (0.002¢)” and they couldn’t understand it and refused to adjust the charges from $71.786 to 71.786¢. Eventually, once word of this spread across the internet and people heard the story and listened to the audio of the phone call Verizon’s entire customer service staff and managers looked like a bunch of ill-trained fools. Verizon then had no choice but to cave and adjust the data charges George incurred on his trip to Canada.

The internet and social media are re-shrinking our world and really making it a global village.

Image Credits:

Globe keychains on coins “Money Makes The World Go Round” image taken from Flickr user p22earl‘s photostream.

Butcher Shop clip art taken from http://mjb0123.blogspot.com

Globe with social media logos taken from http://www.clustermedia.com.my/

 

 

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