Social Media has changed the internet. We've seen major shifts from surfing, to search to social. Back in the day "Surfing the web" was the way people consumed content. The homepage of giants like Yahoo published an abundance of content that people were happy to consume because it was there... On the internet... Free!
Search set out to create order online by indexing pages. Now, rather than consuming what was published you could find out about whatever you want. Search was the main reason publishing online shifted from one-to-many (like the old media model) to many-to-many.
Since then Social Networks have started to erode the traffic of the search engines and changed the way we consume content.
Social Media is the true many-to-many model where we consume the content shared by our friends, family or special interest groups. Without even needing to visit a search engine.
Benefits of Social Media for Business
Business was quick to discover the marketing power of being "Social". Most brands have representation on Facebook, Twitter and many of the more recent Social Networks like Instagram, Pinterest and even SnapChat.
The major benefit is that marketers can engage with their target market on the terms of the buyer not the seller. Conversely, old school advertising relied on interrupting the target audience and pushing messages on a schedule that suited the marketer.
Benefits of Social Media for Consumers
A good experience, or a bad experience is quickly amplified to your Social Network. More and more people are taking to Facebook and Twitter to voice their opinions. And, if organisations respond quickly this can work in their favour. Handled badly and the persons connections will soon chime in, telling everyone about similar experiences and offering alternatives.
However, diplomatically handling a complaint, quickly and efficiently, can strengthen a brands online presence. Handled badly the same complaint badly amplifies the problem and has far reaching effects.