Right now the biggest thing on the internet is the Social Media phenomenon. It began as a way to connect with your friends and family members all across the globe but has turned into a tool used for business. If in the past the newspaper was a way to inform the people of what’s happening, it has also evolved into a way to advertise products. It has come to the point that it was the advertising that was feeding the print industry to stay in business.But people are wondering what has made a social networking site a means for marketing. What is the psychology behind the popularity of social media in the e-commerce tool?
It was said that social media marketing has brought back an old way of life where the very owners are running the business, thus it has a more personal touch. In some places it’s called mom and pop stores or small businesses as opposed to big, multi-branch corporations.
You’ve Got Mail
If you remember the film You’ve Got Mail, the character played by Meg Ryan owned a little bookstore which was eventually eaten up by the more corporate bookstore branch owned by Tom Hanks. Near the end of the movie, while the store clerk was struggling with a book some customers were looking for Meg Ryan stepped up and explained the book to them.
Meg Ryan’s character is representative of the social media marketing today wherein there’s a more hands-on, personal relationship with the customers. Meg Ryan knows her books well and this had been the basis of the strength of her and her mother’s business for so long.
Social media phenomenon explained
In an article by Josh Dirks for SEJ entitled Social Media Phenomenon Explained, he likened social media with merchants before the industrial revolution. This was the time when stores were limited within their own town and everybody knew everybody. Because of this, the proprietors were more careful about their products as one small complaint can spread like wildfire through the town. Pricing was also neighborly and as explained by Dirks, “Each business was held extremely accountable for the way they ran their trade.”
Like Meg Ryan’s bookstore, these mom and pop stores were run to the ground when the industrial age came along. With factories being set-up, products were now being churned out by the thousands and eventually millions. Cities rose. Large companies ruled the scene. Mass production scenarios materialized. And there was nothing personal about the business anymore.
Dirks explained, “One-way messaging became the force de rigueur, whether it was the town crier newspaper or, eventually, radio, television, or the Internet. Word-of-mouth still existed, but it could only go so far.”
The revival of the mom and pop store
A mom and pop store is a local business which has only one branch and is usually run by the family who owns it. Although they were driven out by large companies, they never really died. Some mom and pop stores still exist especially in the small towns and rural areas. And with the rise of internet and then social networking, the idea of mom and pop store mentality was brought to the forefront.
How it is connected with social media is the concept that the consumer has a stronger voice these days as opposed to the one way messaging of corporations. Like a village or a town, the social network community shares their favorite brand of ice cream in their neighborhood, checks-in at a restaurant or café to tell their social media friends where they are and lambasts a bad service at a pharmacy.
This sharing of information has a powerful impact in the local area and even across the globe. These days small businesses have the capacity to rise up and become successful just on account of virtual word of mouth. And also are more careful just like in the old days in the products they offer.
As Dirk described social media bringing us back to pre-revolution communications and marketing, “At the end of the day, businesses have to be relevant in their communities, listen to the conversations… That’s how you win these days. There are no shortcuts.”