I usually paraphrase blog posts I like but this one speaks for itself. There are 7 things identified by Mediagiest that are benefits of social media.
1. Multi-tribalism- A person can now belong to more than one tribe. In fact, there is easily an online tribe for each of your interests. This takes the burden of having to be loyal to one group over another out. People in one community don’t necessarily have to know about your involvement in another and neither group has the right, or inclination to demand your fidelity.
2. Empowerment of niches communities and small businesses – It used to be that only in a city someone could find others with a shared interest in an area outside of popular culture. Today, these people can find each other and find encouragement to pursue their passion. Beyond this, they can also create communities and blogs that are monetizable and in many cases, a full time job. At present, many fashion trends and fads are born out of a cities culture do to the cosmopolitan mix inherent in a large population. In the very near future these trends will be born more and more on the web and outside of a specific geographic location. In addition, these small groups will be able to gain an increasing amount of social capital and influence if their activities become viral. This is good news for those of use who enjoy living in a world that is diverse and constantly exploring new worlds. If these small groups can consistently create value, entertainment or inspiration they can easily become agents of change worldwide.
3. Global peer to peer relationships – People can now connect from a variety of locations on a peer basis without the need for long formalities that can sometimes work as walls to keep people out rather than protected. Ideas can be shared freeley and more introverted and less aggressive people can find themselves on an even level with those who would otherwise dominate a conversation on their charisma or previous entitlements alone. People must also work harder to maintain their status since noteriety often lasts no more than a day and attention spans are brief.
4. Meritocracy – A person with a good idea or insight, in a social forum can easily gain more mindshare than someone who lists their titles, accomplishments or clients as a reason to pay attentinon to them. The internet may currently be awash in individuals trying to position themselves as experts but crowds will eventually drift toward those who provide value irregardless of social standing in the outside world.
5. Company to individual – Companies are now better able to get a more direct and authentic understanding of what customers are thinking and feeling. Not in the language of multiple choice surveys but in the a real spoken language. This kind of communication is marked by sincerity, depth and often with a wit that sheds real light onto what are customers true concerns are.
6. User community to company – A community does not have to be located all on one server or web site. A community can be defined as any group of individuals with a shared interest. These communities, the mix of individuals across microblogging, social networks orums and videos, are speaking to a given company. Whether that company chooses to listen and respond is their decision, but the trend is for them to be doing so. Those who ignore this valuable information will do so to the benefit of their competitors
7. Hysteria – This is unfortunate but true. Social media is a new power and it comes in two flavors. The speed and impact of a viral movement can spread product information and interest very quickly, but it can also spread panic and lies. As users of social media it is important to be aware of this and to recognize that it is us that are now the newsroom. If misinformation is being spread, we will increasingly have only ourselves to blame.
8. Consumer empowerment – Not sure if Burger King is still doing so but they used to run the slogan ‘Have it your way’. This meant that you could get a cheeseburger without pickles if you wanted it. This was a huge revolution in marketing but hardly in the actual content of the product. Today, just in time delivery and manufacturing is making that more and more possible. Customers are not only asked what they want, they are now able to design the product themselves, and even sell it for profit. At sites that let users design their own t-shirts, for example, a person can get immediate feedback on a shirt design and without commiting to a huge print run, determine whether the design will be a success. This is response direct from a customer and not something that has to factor in the bartering for retail space that the traditional methods would require.
9. Agility – Back in the day, the shoe cobbler, blacksmith and tailor would measure and make for your specific needs. Such customization is now accepted as a premium service but this is changing. Small online businesses, with a small but sustainable number of customers can meet more granular needs and product definitions. For larger companies, modular components based on social media feedback can make mass production feel more like customization. That is, companies can abstract out the parts that are most commonly needed and mass produce them. When an order arrives, assembly can occur per individual spec. Social web interactions make it possible to get a wider grasp on which components are in highest demand and in what quantity they can be produced. In the very near future there will be a lot of work for people who can read a community and convert it’s sentiment into product design.