Just one decade back, it was almost a one way, planned communication from the brands through print, TV or radio ads. Internet ads were still in their infant days and had not seen wide adoption. The frequency of the print ads could only be as much frequent as the print frequency of the chosen publications. Sometimes, publications were also chosen on the basis of frequency but even the most frequent form of a publication, a daily newspaper, would be published only once a day at the max. The TV and Radio, despite wider reach, could only offer shorter slots for ads, typically not exceeding 60 seconds. However, ads could be repeated several times a day for greater reinforcement.
The internet changed brand communications on its head. Banner ads started appearing everywhere, zapping millions of impressions in matter of weeks. It became possible to fill small response forms which would show up when you click an ad, and allow you to make a request for greater information on a product/service. And that started the journey of two way communication.
With creeping evolution of social media, it became easy for information, such as an opinion on a movie to circulate on the internet very fast. Brands also were forced to adapt to the new reality of social media. It also became possible for smaller brands to frugally take on their much larger cousins. Many who realized the changing nature of the game, setup pages for their brands so that they remain part of the game. With Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, it became possible for a product review to traverse the globe in matter of minutes. The idea of reputation has clearly become more transient.
The brand communication cycle has become shorter now. Social media allowed progressive brands to engage in a two way communication. The fluidity of this platform meant the brand and the consumer could both create communication whenever they wanted. Consumers have become even more empowered. Virality and social valence have long arrived and consumers have shared content between themselves, with benefit or detriment to the brand.
Take this live example. A post on Facebook by me on 27th December thanking a bus crew for having returned a lost camera has been shared over 7300 times, commented over 6000 times and liked by 73000 individuals in just ten days. If we argue that every share has been viewed by 50 individuals on an average, the good deed of the bus crew has reached nearly 3.5 lakh individuals, with not a single penny spent on advertising. Think of what this does to the bus service brand.
It does not require an expert to say while social media was initially adopted by younger internet users initially, in today’s world, it is the younger and relatively older people alike who are consumed by this forms of communication.
The rise of social media also gave proliferation of fundamentally questionable assertions. Does social media subsume all other forms of communication? Does it reach everyone? Can any type of group be targeted equally effectively? The answer is a resolute no. In subsequent posts, lets see how.