2011 has seen numerous changes in the social media world. Google+ was hyped, launched, and seemingly forgotton. Twitter redid its brand pages. Facebook debuted its new insights and Timeline options. LinkedIn went public. Other smaller sites like StumbleUpon and Pinterest proved that alternatives to Facebook are welcomed in the market. In addition to these big changes, many articles and trends were popular throughout the year, showing the importance of virality.
Despite the many technical changes, it is most important to understand how they have affected the way people interact with each other and things they care about. Events throughout the past year have proved time and again that as far as marketing is concerned, consumers are more in control than ever. After the Bank of America fee scandal it’s apparent that complaints that once went unheard now have power. The same woman who organized that protest recently created a petition against a fee from Verizon. The company removed the fee within hours.
According to Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey, “The Internet is the great equalizer, and that’s a beautiful thing – even if it’s not positive for us. . . We made mistakes that hurt our brand, consumers let us know about it, and now we’re rebuilding step by step.” Perhaps you remember a little thing called Quikster that would have replaced Netflix’s streaming service. Yup, didn’t happen– once again because of outcry and ridicule on the internet.
Thankfully, in addition to complaints, consumers are also able to express their undying love for their favorite brands– companies such as Krispy Kreme have been able to turn their fortunes around thanks to the passion of their fans. Others like Zappos, Starbucks, and Apple continue to show the rest of the world how social media and consumer engagement is done. Even smaller companies, such as the St. Cloud, MN based scrapbooking company Creative Memories is able to engage superfans successfully. Social media is able to foster this love by interacting with consumers that are passionate about the brand and letting them know they’re appreciated.
Looking forward, brands and companies need to learn how to interact with consumers, foster love, and properly respond to complaints in order to flourish in the new “relationship era.”
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