By now we have reached a point where the majority of internet users are at least aware of Twitter and Facebook. Their endorsement and utility are expanding exponentially. Facebook alone hosts 250 million users. Nearly half of those users log on to the site at least once every day. The same goes for Twitter, with estimates stating they have increased by near 20 million users since the beginning of the year. In the past two months alone, an incredible number of internet users went from having only theoretical knowledge of Twitter to becoming regular tweeters.
Only a couple years ago, these social media sites did not even appear on anyone’s radar. Now, Facebook, Twitter, and the form of communication they provide are becoming part of everyday life. Facebooking, tweeting, and texting (which is essentially the basis for Twitter) are quickly approaching a status of necessity and functionality that rivals the cell phone and e-mail.
So how are brands getting into the networking game? Interaction. By participating in social media sites and interacting directly with consumers, we can find out what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and what their needs are. Beyond metrics and results, we can begin to engage consumers on an individual basis. In return, they have the opportunity to connect with us, speak their minds, and ultimately feel important and even influential.
A small business, like a privately owned restaurant, can send a message to their regulars through Twitter if, for example, they have a new entrée on their menu. A regular can then tweet back after dinner and offer their opinion and feedback. Likewise, larger corporations can give a face to an otherwise seemingly impersonal monster. Consistent, personal dialogue of this sort can give life to a brand and permit patrons to feel legitimately that you are investing as much in their interests and concerns as they are investing in your company with their loyalty.
These methods of networking are still new and constantly progressing, but symbiotic brand-and-consumer relationships of this kind could do great things for companies who are willing to open up to their audience and communicate.