The date was June 25, 2009. My family has an amusement park practically in our back yard. We spent the late afternoon and early summer evening there enjoying the rides. When we returned home around 8 pm, my wife checked her Twitter feed and saw tweets like this:
Michael, we’ll miss you.
I can’t believe Michael is gone.
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, RIP
My wife said to me, “I think Michael Jackson died.” I told her that was ridiculous but sure enough when we turned on the news, it was true. We didn’t learn about Jackson’s death via the “old media”. We first heard about it via the new media, the social media.
Just a week earlier, Time magazine ran a story on the election in Iran and the role that Twitter played in broadcasting dissent. Once again, the new media was able to disseminate information against the wishes of the government, who could easily control the old media.
If you need further convincing that social media is a force to be reckoned with, think about the person who must be Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite politician. Love her or hate her, there is no escaping former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. One of the reasons she is ubiquitous is her Facebook page. A decade ago, we would expect to see a story with the lead sentence, “in a press release, Governor Palin said …”. Now we see, “yesterday, Governor Palin posted to her Facebook page …”.
Why does Palin use Facebook? To be trendy? Perhaps that is part of it but Palin has made it clear that both Facebook and Twitter allow her to connect with her audience outside the “filter” of the “lame stream media”as she calls it. We call the “lame stream” media, the old media. Sarah has embraced the new media, the social media.
So your response is that this story about celebrities, sovereign governments and politicians does not apply to you, the small business owner. You couldn’t be more wrong. The medium is spreading the message. The medium, the new medium, can spread your message. Gaining “followers” in social media increases awareness of your brand. Learning how to formulate your message will gain you more than awareness but influence.
The time for you to act is now. Social media is here and it is not going away in the foreseeable future. While you wait to be convinced, others who have drunk “the koolaid” are doing business with your potential clients.