Much has been written about the social media revolution and how this “changes everything.”
I have a different view. Is this really a revolution, or is it something even more surprising?
Two technologies — widespread access to high-speed Internet and the availability of free, easy-to-use publishing tools like Facebook, blogs and Twitter — have not so much revolutionized marketing as returned us to our roots in an unexpected way. It has democratized influence and placed customers at the power center of commerce, where they had been for a thousand years.
Before the Internet, before advertising, jingles, mass media or PR spin, we bought from people we knew and trusted. Business was a human process, not a formula concocted on Madison Avenue. Merchants needed to fiercely protect their reputation and provide good products because a negative word in their local community could destroy a business. And, there was a social aspect to buying at the village market or the corner store. It was fun.
Does this sound familiar?
The qualities that have always been at the heart of business — a trusted human presence, responsiveness, honesty, and social communion — are at the heart of the social media strategy. We lost sight of these qualities for 100 years — the advent of mass media. We are not so much experiencing a revolution as a return to the way people have always wanted to do business with us.
It is not really a revolution. We were just lost for awhile.
For the businesses hopelessly addicted to the elegant and useful solution of delivering money to an ad agency and waiting for something to happen … isn’t this the worst possible thing to happen?
Shop image courtesy of Flickr CC and Swindon Collection