In just a few short years, we have become accustomed to having social media in our everyday lives — both personal and business. Events of the past two weeks highlight just how disruptive the medium has become in so many areas of the business environment.
Important Details: We have reached the point where social media is now woven into the fabric of nearly all sectors of communication and information flow. A few events in the past couple of weeks show just how pervasive social media has become and how it has really affected and disrupted the many areas it touches. At times, we all feel the frenetic pace of constant communications in our 24/7 always-on world, fed in large part by social media activity.
- Social media has created an explosion of information that, in turn, has led to a boom in analytic companies. We now have nearly 200 firms involved in the social media analytics space.
- The speed of communications has forced other media and formats to ramp up their frequency and volume of communications, which has had the effect of forced errors.
- Financial markets are (naturally) engaged with huge market cap values for Facebook and LinkedIn and all the buzz about Twitter’s upcoming IPO.
- Enterprises need to adjust, as some are still learning that social media is not just another means to push your message. It is a two-way communication and the market can talk back.
Implications: One effect of the information explosion and the creation of new companies watching and tracking social media traffic is that they are a threat and disruption to many market research firms. Some of these 200 social media analytic companies, including the likes of Crimson Hexagon, DataSift and Recorded Future, are creating products to help companies watch markets, prospects, and competitors. These are some of the very tasks that market research firms have done in the past and they are feeling this impact.
Sometimes we want to shout out, “Can’t we all just please slow down?” The stream and frequency of social information seems to amp up everything. In this hectic world, running at this pace can lead to mistakes. We all make mistakes — but just as the pace has quickened, it seems the frequency of mistakes has picked up too. Just last week, we received:
- An e-mail promo about Valentine’s Day;
- A link to a New York Post story about the advertising industry that was dated 2008;
- An offer from a research firm (dated February) to get all of the 2013 predictions now.
The pace, and what seems like a race to produce more and send more messages, leads to this kind of activity.
There is a race to the money. The money is enormous in this sector and that attracts more investment and more new players trying to get into the mix. Naturally, Twitter’s IPO created a buzz and stoked more of the money fire. Consider that Facebook’s value (market cap) is over $115 billion and LinkedIn is at $27 billion. Those are huge numbers.
Not all enterprises have come around to realizing that social media is a two-way communication and not just another channel to push your brand; rather, it is a means to communicate with the market. Many companies have designated a person or group to monitor social media sites to see what is being posted about them and to react when needed. When companies don’t listen and respond to their clients, those stories can go viral and have damaging effects. Consider this story of the angry British Airways customer. Not only did he try to get the company’s attention directly, and then try via social media, but he finally resorted to purchasing a promoted tweet to get heard. Of course, that tweet went viral.
As we consider social media, there is a tendency to try to classify the companies into a single category. In this case, that does not effectively show the full impact of social media on the industry.