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For business, the social media revolution was just the beginning

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For business, the social media revolution was just the beginning

By CraigColgan
Published: January 7, 2010 Updated: February 8, 2011

The Web has found its killer-app, and it is social media.

No question about it. In the decade of the 'aughts,' business learned that their customers are using the Internet in a way that puts sharing and socializing front and center, instead of what many thought the whole point would be: assembling and displaying vast piles of pretty but unconnected content. This was a shock. Should it have been?

Regardless, many businesses want to make up for any lost time. Businesses are racing to social media, learning as much as they can as fast as they can. Facebook has been embraced by small business in 2009. Twitter fans know that its most-criticized feature -- its 140-character-posting limitation -- matters not one bit. Because the point is to be social. Which happens best when your contributions to the party are brief and add value. Share smart stuff. And understand there is great value in silence. Listening is the great misunderstood benefit of social media. So the lesson learned about the Web at the end of the decade: It's not the content. It's the community. Is this the revolution that the Web had long promised, for individuals, groups, government, and business? I think it is.

Businesses know that they were beaten to this realization by consumers. Figuring out how to catch up, how to join that vast, always-on discussion is business's current challenge. The past year was important historically. For business, 2009 was the year of learning. And the media noticed. Time magazine offered '10 ways Twitter will change business.' * Canada's CTVnews.com provides a great wrap-up* for Twitter's impact to date. One example in that piece points to the two ways engaging in social media brings value: the direct way, and the indirect way. The direct way is answering tweets directly. The indirect way is to 'foster goodwill.' Which means joining the swirl in a more conversational way. Business are learning these distinctions, and learning to find success in this still very new space. David Carr, media critic for the New York Times*, wrote: 'At first, Twitter can be overwhelming, but think of it as a river of data rushing past that I dip a cup into every once in a while.'

So what is the Internet trend for the new decade that business needs to embrace right away, to avoid playing catch-up all over again? The answer is mobile. That will be the next platform for all business to exploit. Small, local businesses most of all. The world in your Web-enabled phone. New applications will arrive, and Twitter and Facebook and your company Web site or blog will change. Maybe there will be more video. Maybe it will all be faster and smarter. Maybe more stuff will be sold through the Web itself than anybody thought possible. Maybe we will all have more robust knowledge of our customers and potential customers because of the Web. Maybe privacy issues will be fixed. We will all find out soon enough.

*Hyperlink goes to a non-government website.

Message Edited by CraigColgan on 01-07-2010 11:38 AM

Message Edited by ChristineL on 01-11-2010 11:00 AM

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Comments:

Social media has greatly affected the online business and promotion. But, remember social media has to be used in the right ways. Sadly some people are using this in the wrong manner. But over all based on what I've experience and read, social media has good effects on a website when it comes to traffic conversion as well as the rankings. Apartment for Rent in the Philippines
I agree that the next big thing will be online mobile, i do feel however that technology needs to catch up a bit. At the moment it isnt main stream enough as not everyone has an all singing and dancing phone and the experience is still a bit to clunky. Social media is a tool like any other if you learn to use it properly you can craft something extremelly beneficial to your business. You do need to learn how to use it properly however, give yourself at least a week to research the industry and if you are unable to give yourself this sort of time think about talking to professionals that can develop a working online persona for you. Most importantly you need to keep talking to the people in your social network, the key here is 'social' if you are of benefit to people they will look to you in your niche as an expert that can help them with there query.
Now every business approcahing towards social media sites as it is a good medium of attracting visitors to their websites.
People of Earth, here is my official author reply to the 1-18 comment: Apple, being a famously secretive pack, absolutely monitors the social media universe. Without a doubt. Remember: A big value to social media is listening, as much as the capacity to communicate to many quickly and easily. Apple's 'presence' is not to be denied. They are out there, no questiom. All day and all night, many Apple-ites are monitoring the social media-sphere to stay aware of what is being said about Apple. Nobody I know is 'overrating' Twitter for business. But if you see Twitter as merely a one-way megaphone, and do not recognize the listening value, then it will certainly never be a 'game changer' for you. Twitter is the top social media app for business right now, in my view, but which tool to make use of is secondary to: understanding the listening potential; developing a strategy across (not necessarily many) tools, and sticking with it. Message Edited by CraigColgan on 01-18-2010 03:38 PM
Social media isn't all THAT. If you are running a crummy business, Facebook and Twitter are not going to matter one bit. Look at Apple, they have very little Twitter presence, Facebook? Meh. Yet, they are on fire. While I think Facebook is a pretty neat little tool. Twitter is o.k. for industry specific chatter but grossly overrated as a business game changer.

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