Any entrepreneur living in the present will tell you just how important the online environment has become for businesses both big and small. It seems that often the difference between success and failure doesn’t hang so much on the product’s innovative qualities but rather on its marketing and social hype. Trends work, and have worked for decades if not centuries, but at no time has this been more evident than in today’s fast-paced ‘viral’ information environment.
Of course, as any good digital agency will tell you, the door swings both ways and just as social networks can ‘make’ a company, they can break it. McDonalds, for instance took a big image hit when its promoted #mcdstorieshashtagwas subverted by Twitter users and used for conveying poor fast food experiences. Less damaging but a lot more common, the real social media blunders are cases of employees sending personal, and often offensive tweets from corporate accounts mistaken for their own.
Social Networks are incredibly powerful tools because they allow not only direct interaction between a company and an audience but also the reverse and interaction between different followers as well. This can prove quite a boon for a small business trying to get off the ground, by creating word-of-mouth hype, or it can be very bad for a business, with a single scalding review reaching a large audience (as in the case of McDonalds above). Of course with a smart and dedicated marketing and social media team you can turn just about anything into an opportunity for increasing your visibility.
This happened recently with the Superbowl power outage. While a lot of companies sunk quite a bit of money and effort into the halftime ads the true winners were those who managed to quickly capitalize on the power outage through tweets, status updates and on-the-fly content. This is the direction in which online marketing is moving and quick and public capitalization on ‘culture trends might just be the next big thing for marketing agencies as well as independent businesses. We have already started seeing it with companies big and small adopting and adapting popular memes to their products.
As our digital horizons expand and we absorb and create more of the Internet culture, social media and internet marketing will grow exponentially. Perhaps with this already happening growth, standards and good practices will ensure that we will have more social media successes than failures.
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