400 M people use Facebook, and about 50% of users log in daily. It has 70 languages. Twitter is growing at 65%. A recent record was broken for Twitter (3,000 tweets per second) and YouTube (24 hours of video uploaded per minute). But how much noise is out there? How powerful is social media, really?
Joey Shepp, founder of Earthsite, a self-described new media company for sustainable brands, spoke on the subject at the LOHAS conference. Engagement is the basic strategy of social currency. Companies must 1) respond, 2) participate, 3) share and thank their communities. These strategies lead to user-generated content (UGC), which is one of the main objectives of any social media campaign.
It’s so powerful, says Shepp, that if you engage your customers in this way, you can turn your entire brand (and company) around. When Intuit, for example, went online in the social media sphere, 80% of comments were negative. It was a function of the fact that many of their customers had felt they were not being listened to. Within 3 months, they were not only able to turn it around, they were able to improve their product in many ways with feedback they’d received.
Having customers feel more ownership over your brand gives it more stability. Figure this: if they like you, and someone else attacks you (whether it’s on a Yelp review or your Facebook page), it’s like that person is attacking them. And, as Shepp says, “You’ll start to see people defending you…you won’t even have to respond.”
In the media world, there’s four basic outlets for small companies: earned media (PR), owned media (website), advertising (paid), and social media (community). As a small company with a limited ad budget, it makes an active engagement in social media a pretty strong case.
As Shepp likes to add, though, social media can be quite a sustainable option. There’s reduced travel, many to many communications, reduced paper use, and perhaps most importantly, it helps to hold the feet of companies to the fire….secrets are getting harder and harder to keep.