Welcome to the Revolution
We are living in the Digital Revolution, also referred to as the Third Industrial Revolution. Technology has forever changed the way we work, play and make buying decisions. Once upon a time, think 1985, the only way to purchase a product was to go to a brick and mortar location (the store) to learn more about it before making a purchase. It was highly transactional and limited to how much time a customer was willing to spend on comparison shopping. It took a lot of time and energy and the power was heavily weighted in favor of the seller.
In 2007, the iPhone changed the way we interacted with each other and eventually, how we interacted with our brands. More than a decade later, companies are still trying to decipher customer habits and influence their purchasing decisions. Customers can now take their commerce with them and do price comparisons from the comfort of their own home, without the need to ever see a product in “real time”. To remain relevant, businesses must shift from transactional thinking to relationship building or risk going out of business.
Welcome to The New Age of Commerce
As of January 2018, there were nearly 7.6 billion people on the planet. More than half (roughly 4 billion) of us are on the Internet and more than 75% of those are active social media users. Nearly all active social media users are on smart phones.
Think Like a Millennial
Millennials (defined as those born between 1982-2004) have forever changed how we do business in the 21st century. At 70 million, they represent the largest segment of the population in the United States and by 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce. More than 85% of Millennials own a smart phone and on average, check it roughly every 30 minutes. They use it for everything from calling an Uber to applying for a job. To put this in perspective, in 7 years, ¾ of the world’s population will make all of their purchases using mobile technology and the decisions they make will be based largely on their interactions on social media. This global shift will impact everything and everyone.
Unlike GenXers before them, Millennials are immune to traditional branded content and instead, turn to their social media network for recommendations before making a buying decision. They don’t watch TV and they don’t read traditional newspapers. They go on Instagram and Facebook to connect with their favorite brands and to stay ahead of emerging trends. They follow influencers and thought leaders on Twitter and go to LinkedIn to research companies and learn more about the individuals who run them. If you’re selling a consumer product and don’t have a social media strategy, you will eventually become invisible.
Don’t Sell Me. Help Me Discover
In ancient times, otherwise known as the 20th century, companies acquired customers through a workforce well-versed in established sales practices, a compelling pitch and the personality of their sales people. The Digital Revolution has changed not only how customers buy, but how companies acquire customers.
Millennials don’t want to be sold, they want to discover your company through relevant content and meaningful engagement. They pay attention to a company’s core values to see if it aligns with theirs and look for ways to connect with brands. This is where social media comes in and why it’s so powerful. It provides infinite opportunities for engagement and allows companies to see what content connects with potential customers and get feedback in real time.
Patagonia has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter who support their sustainable practices and their mission to do no harm and help protect the planet. Their customers are extreme sports enthusiasts who proudly wear Patagonia to explore the world while they promote their brand’s products.
Donna Karan has been a leading fashion brand since 1984 and has remained relevant in a highly competitive industry through social media. Their 1 million+ Facebook followers stay connected because they know that DKNY offers them the latest New York lifestyle news as well as product updates.
To get the most out of social media for your brand, start by identifying your ideal customer and what matters to them. Once you know who they are, do your research and find out which social media platforms they spend time on and go there. Look at who and what they engage with so you can create relevant content that will get shared with people in their network and help you reach new customers. If you post something and hear crickets, re-boot and try again. Facebook posts last 5 hours which means that you can try posting several times a day and get valuable feedback in hours. Contrast this with blogs which have a two-year shelf life. This is good news if you’re a blogger because it gives you a chance to build an audience over a longer period of time. For authors, blogs are a great way to parcel out sections of content to use on their social media feeds that can get them in front of potential readers and publishers.
LinkedIn is used primarily for business development and to find talent which is why 80% of HR professionals go to LinkedIn to look for job candidates. Content on LinkedIn lasts for 24 hours which is the amount of time they expect to get responses to a job posting. Facebook is the perfect platform for checking out your competition and for measuring your company against theirs. If you’re looking for a job, Facebook provides a window into a company’s culture. Twitter is a powerful tool for trying out a new idea or concept and adding your thoughts to an influencer’s. It’s also a great way for a startup to build followers and see if there’s a potential customer for their new idea.
A revolution is a time of great upheaval but it can also transform a civilization and its citizens. Social media can connect a brand to thousands, even millions of potential customers and make their current ones feel like they’re part of a vibrant community of like-minded brand evangelists. Social media is the new town square and, like its predecessor of pre-industrialized times, it’s where people go to stay current on local, regional and national news and can even be the place to start a revolution.
Orly Zeewy is a brand architect and Facilitator of Lightbulb Moments based in Philadelphia. Before starting her consulting practice in 2001, she ran an award-winning marketing communications firm for 14 years and worked with national clients such as Cigna, Kraft Foods and Prince Tennis. In addition to helping startups cut through the noise, she is a public speaker and teaches at Drexel University and Ithaca College. She is currently writing a “Lean Marketing Guide for Startups.”