Social media has not only provided the broadcasting tool for a two way information exchange, it is also nourishing a culture personal expression and affiliation with ideals, values, statements regarding brands, causes and ideas. Even Romanians are becoming increasingly more connected as nearly 50 percent of the online population have reportedly joined a brand community online.
By Colin Whitfield
Is social media worth the investment in Romania?
The figures related to why people join Facebook fan pages are primarily based on the US and global market. The same statistics in the Romanian market are sparse to non-existent. The aim of this column therefore is to illuminate the uses of social media in Romania by presenting to you statistics, case studies and answering any questions you might have about social media. But before I let you have your say on how social media is changing your lives and businesses, I want to leave you with this statistic about social media and Romania. Romanians are becoming increasingly more connected as nearly half of the online population have reportedly joined a brand community online.
With more than 600 million users, Facebook is currently the third largest country after China and India. With more than 1.5 billion visits daily, social networking sites are growing in dominance and influence. Worldwide, there has been a 10 percent growth in the number of social network managers, 30 percent accessing social media via mobile, 47 percent joining brand communities.
Look at the data below, which shows the time spent by each media to reach 50 million users:
Radio: 38 years
TV: 13 years
Internet: 4 years
iPod: 3 years
Facebook: 2 years
Likes and Tweets; the vote and word of mouth of the Digital Age
There is simply too much information on the Internet. The prevailing model up until this year to search and review product information was through search engines such as Google. In 2010 however, we witnessed social networks overtake search engines as the primary form of product information searching and reviewing. Online users trust what their friends and family have to recommend, these recommendations act like filters for the masses of information and advertising pushed through the search engine model. The process becomes inherently more humanized, as it is no longer algorithms placing advertising based on your search queries, but people you may or may not know, recommending these products through tweets, votes, posts, likes, shares and recommendations.
How social media changes our everyday lives
Social media extends far beyond commercial use, as the medium itself is inherently a social tool enabling a variety of ways to communicate, share and learn from each other. In other words it is an extension of what is so profoundly human in nature; communication. With the variety of tools for publishing and sharing content, anyone can become a content producer and publisher, but what is more significant is that everyone can become a content distributor.
Social media provides the tools for you to voice your opinion, but with the sheer volume of conversations happening outside of the control of traditional mass media; TV, Radio and Magazines etc; the phenomenon is creating a fundamental shift in the balance of power between brands and consumers, mass media and the public, politicians and citizens.
The Social Media Revolution
Social media is not simply revolutionizing the commercial and advertising environment. It is a far more profound tool for readdressing the balance of political power, which aids the preservation of human rights as well as the right to political protest. As the images and videos that were shared across millions during the 2009 protest against the regime in Iran demonstrate, Twitter and Youtube became the main weapons of protest for the Iranian people.
Why is it important to my brand / business?
As Beth Reilly, the Lead Digital & Social Marketing for all Kraft Grocery, Biscuit/Snack Brands and Kraft Canada Brands said: “Once a upon a time there were brand/company URL’s, now Facebook and Twitter is the de-facto brand destination” (See a video featuring Beth Reilly, How Oreo Learned to Fish Where the Fish Are from The Bridge on Vimeo.)
Your brand, product or industry will inevitably join the conversation; the question is whether your brand will be able to respond appropriately to what is being said, and whether you are able to add value to that conversation. The problem is that brands and marketers can no longer rely on clever advertising messages, and the louder they turn up the volume the more we are tuning out.
As Nielsen’s 2010 Global Trust Study highlights, the reason is one of trust. Nearly 60 percent of online shoppers place their family and friends as the most trustworthy source for product information, followed by nearly 40 percent trusting Online Product reviews by other customers. The study here.
The top reason why people join Facebook fan pages is precisely to voice their opinion to their friends, according to the eMarketer. The sort of interaction provided by social media is allowing the smart brands to benefit from increased engagement, loyalty and reach. The late adapters and those sitting behind the sidelines run the risk of becoming alienated and losing control of the conversation, and in essence the image of their brand.
Up to you to debate: How do you see social media affecting your business and everyday lives? Please feel free to comment below or send an e-mail to Colin at [email protected] In our next articles we'll focus on social media in Romania,so watch this site for more information.
Colin Whitfield is one quarter English, Greek, Spanish and Filipino. He grew up in Athens Greece, studied Philosophy and International Business at the University of Kent in the UK, graduating first in a class of 90. An entrepreneur at heart, at 23 he set up a real estate investment firm in Bucharest, at 25 he built a portfolio of EUR 10.8 million. Colin is an avid researcher of social media, has a profound interest in online business and is passionate about the dynamics between people, technology and brands. More about him on our editorial team page.